It’s not easy being an edge-case

An important part of doing good design work is to decide what exactly it is you are designing and who exactly you are designing for – after all, you can’t be all things to all people. A side-effect of this good practice is the creation of edge-cases – people who might want to use your design, but who have requirements that you have not particularly designed for. Ideally you want to make it *possible* for these people to achieve their goals, but it is not the focus of your design work. As such, it may be a little trickier for them than it is for your defined target audience(s).

Interestingly, I’ve found that by moving countries but not changing my email address I’ve become an edge-case for some applications and websites that I used to use quite frequently and that you probably use now too.

iTunes, for example, wants me to use the UK iTunes store now rather than the Australian store. This is fair enough and, I’m sure, is all to do with licensing. Thing is, they also want me to register with the UK store, but when I go to register, they pick up the email address I’m using and tell me that my email address has already been registered. There doesn’t seem to be any way that I can update my profile to ‘move’ myself from Australia to the UK – the only option that iTunes gives me is to use the Australian iTunes store… which sounds well and good except I can’t use my UK credit card at the Australian store, and I’ve ditched all my Australian cards. The end result is that, unless I want to give iTunes a different email address and register with the UK store using that address, I can’t buy tunes from Apple. Annoying.

Similarly, PayPal deals very inelegantly with members who move countries. Again, there is not way that you can update your profile from one country to another. Rather, you have to close your old account and open a new one. You can’t transfer funds from the old account the new account either – you have to withdraw the funds, in my case to an Australian bank account (which, you guessed it, I’ve already closed).

So, what’s the point? Am I going to moan and complain because iTunes and PayPal have either not thought or not cared to create a better experience for people who move countries and don’t change their email address? Well, no. I’m sure that the number of people who are in my situation is relatively small, and as such, the effort required to improve the experience is better spent looking after the majority of their target audience.

This is one of the first times, though, that I’ve found myself as an ‘edge-case’ for two services that I would happily choose to use on a regular basis, and it is a rather unsettling experience. At this point, my desire to use their services is not outweighed by the effort required to make this possible. I’m having to find other places and ways to spend my money and, although I theoretically understand why they’re treating me so badly, the poor experience has removed any warm fuzzy feelings I had for either service.

What’s the moral to the story? I think, perhaps, that it’s not to try to eliminate edge-cases – all you achieve by doing that is to give everyone a very mediocre experience. Perhaps, though, be aware of instances where people who were previously smack in the middle of your target audience become edge-cases and try to make their edge-case experience not utterly impossible. Recognise that there are two types of edge-case audiences – edge-cases who don’t really care, and edge-cases who are quite fond of you but have just gotten into a tricky situation. Perhaps spend just a little more time looking after the latter. They’ll thank you for it.

8 Random Facts (Meme)

I don’t usually do memes on this blog, but as I’ve been tagged by Ian it seems like a nice way to ease back into the year (it’s been a little quiet round here lately!).

Apparently, these are the rules of this particular meme:

  1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

I actually did a similar ‘Five Things’ meme just over a year ago, so I might re-use that (in a slightly updated form) and add a couple more.

Here are the five things from a year ago (that are still more or less true today).

  1. I’d rather be a concert pianist: I used to be a pretty reasonably pianist back in the day. I started lessons when I was about 5yrs old and kept it up until I was almost eighteen. I used think I might one day be a famous concert pianist, but I was never really a great fan of getting up on stage and performing, so that was only ever going to be a pipe dream. I also learned the cello, but I was much more rubbish at that. I haven’t played for quite a while, but one day I’ll buy myself a piano and get back into it. It will go in my library, which will have walls lined with books. This year I got a gorgeous piano for my birthday and I play it all the time now, although I’m still quite rubbish. Hopefully this time next year I’ll be better.
  2. I grew up on a farm: horse, pigs, cows, the works. It was really fun and I wish that all kids could grow up that way. I was terrified of the horses when I was really small though. I had a potty calf that I named Madonna. My brother named the cat Powder Puff. (eh, Madonna is still a worse name for a cow, isn’t it).
  3. I cheated my way through second grade: every week we had a spelling test and every week, me and my friend Ange sat next to one another and cheated. (Sorry Ange!). We used to get a ’star’ on the board when you got 100% on your test, and I can’t believe they ever figured out what was going on because Ange and I would have dozens more stars than anyone else in the class. That was the first and last time I ever cheated at school (although, we did do it most weeks of that year). Thank goodness for spell check, that’s all I can say. Kiddies. Don’t cheat on your spelling tests!
  4. I have a fruit & meat rule: they should never be together. The exception that proves the rule is pineapple on pizza. Sweet and Sour Pork should only ever be eaten once the pineapple has been removed. Anyone who cooks me Apricot Chicken has a lot of explaining to do.
  5. I’ve had a massive crush on Steve Waugh and Michael Hutchence for decades: That’s the ex-Australian Cricket Captain and the lead singer of INXS. *swoon* Michael Hutchence (RIP) should be self explanatory. I’m not even going to attempt to explain the Steve Waugh thing.

And a few new ones:

  1. Although I usually pick up new things quickly, I found physics, macro-economics and Bach fugues incredibly difficult to learn, and had to learn them all the same way – slogging away at the repeatedly until the penny finally dropped, which is completely different to my usual learning style. It was only really worth the effort for the Bach fugues.
  2. I write quickly and have no patience for editing. You may already know this about me if you read this blog regularly (I hope not tho!). Strangely, for a while, I thought of editing as a career choice. That would not have been smart.
  3. I’ve just recently become a mum for the first time. It’s a whole new, amazing experience and having the adorable little guy at home makes me very glad that I get to work from home a lot and hang out with him. I never thought I’d have kids, but I’m pretty glad I had a change of heart.

So, there’s my eight things. Now, I have to tag some people… there’s no particular logic to this, I’m just scanning through my feed reader and seeing who hasn’t done this yet, and I’ve found: Xian (although I owe him a meme), Michael, Paul, Robert, Sarah, Pat, Johnny, Josh. (Hrm… clearly I need to read more chick’s blogs…).