Author Topic: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things  (Read 7238 times)

dandarc

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Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« on: September 12, 2014, 11:50:37 AM »
We moved to a web-based system at the day job a little over a year ago.  It amazes me how much perceived value there is in rounded corners on websites - people just seem to love this stuff.  Just released a version of the part I'm responsible for to UAT with a vast improvement for security, along with some slight layout tweaks, . . . and people are oohing and ahhing over the new layout (which is damn near the same as the old one), and not even testing the security like they're supposed to.

Changes were rounding some corners, moving a couple things up to the header to get some more real-estate in the work-area, and putting a logo in the corner.  I guess the lack of appreciation of the security stuff falls under "End-Users can't see it", but to me that is vastly more important than moving a few things around on the screen.

Any similar observances like this in other fields?

Kaspian

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2014, 12:02:44 PM »
All the time!  My job has basically come down to fixing crap code which some amateur either intentionally abandoned (via promotion) or some summer student hack did it.  There was one ASP application where I've managed to delete about 10,000 lines of useless code garbage to make it more efficient (reliable and accurate) using routines and things like that.  What do the users like?  The fact that I added a pale yellow highlight to the order number and that I colour coded order status from red (untouched), yellow (in progress), green (proceed), and pale grey (fulfilled/complete).  ...DOH!

dandarc

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2014, 12:14:10 PM »
All the time!  My job has basically come down to fixing crap code which some amateur either intentionally abandoned (via promotion) or some summer student hack did it.  There was one ASP application where I've managed to delete about 10,000 lines of useless code garbage to make it more efficient (reliable and accurate) using routines and things like that.  What do the users like?  The fact that I added a pale yellow highlight to the order number and that I colour coded order status from red (untouched), yellow (in progress), green (proceed), and pale grey (fulfilled/complete).  ...DOH!
Lets give the guy that wrote this thing a little credit - maybe he was being paid per line of code ;)

MandyM

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2014, 12:23:02 PM »
I generally get more recognition for my skills with excel, rather than any of the actual engineering work that I do.

LibrarIan

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2014, 12:36:22 PM »
I'm working on an extension to our company's billing product right now so we can do legal collections internally. It's going to save us big bucks and streamline all kinds of stuff. But what does everyone care about? The fact that, if an account we have gets into our new collections process, this fact is graphically represented by a small, super tiny pirate flag next to their account name. They're all SUPER PUMPED about this, but apparently no one cares how much money this is saving them. Ugh...

Wolf_Stache

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2014, 12:40:57 PM »
I generally get more recognition for my skills with excel, rather than any of the actual engineering work that I do.

I'm an accountant I get the same thing. "Oh, wow, you can do that with excel?"

LibrarIan

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2014, 12:42:42 PM »
I generally get more recognition for my skills with excel, rather than any of the actual engineering work that I do.

I'm an accountant I get the same thing. "Oh, wow, you can do that with excel?"

Next time show them how awesome the Internet is by not using IE to get online. Prepare to be king.

gimp

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2014, 12:45:37 PM »
I work at a company that loves rounded corners. People love to talk about how our stuff is "okay" and "not as good as xxyyz" while they're busy pre-ordering millions of units the first hour they're available.

I do laugh sometimes at how people get super impressed by fairly inconsequential things but don't even notice the ridiculously difficult, expensive, and impressive feats of engineering to make other things work, when it comes to those products.

MgoSam

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2014, 12:51:38 PM »
I work at a company that loves rounded corners. People love to talk about how our stuff is "okay" and "not as good as xxyyz" while they're busy pre-ordering millions of units the first hour they're available.

Hmm, by any chance, has your company tried to patent the "rounded corner?"


oldtoyota

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2014, 01:01:22 PM »
People ooo and ahhh over a person if they worked at a well-known place, too. I find this very funny. If that same guy did NOT work at a well know place and was doing the exact same work, no one would oooo and ahhh.

I see this happen a lot at tech conferences. Oooo, a random dude from Pepsi is going to speak? A random woman from McDonald's is going to speak! Cool!

These same people may hate McD's, but they are wowed by the brand. And no one is asking them about marketing crap food to adults--much less kids. Nope. Can't ask any hard questions….




dragoncar

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2014, 07:32:08 PM »
People ooo and ahhh over a person if they worked at a well-known place, too. I find this very funny. If that same guy did NOT work at a well know place and was doing the exact same work, no one would oooo and ahhh.

I see this happen a lot at tech conferences. Oooo, a random dude from Pepsi is going to speak? A random woman from McDonald's is going to speak! Cool!

These same people may hate McD's, but they are wowed by the brand. And no one is asking them about marketing crap food to adults--much less kids. Nope. Can't ask any hard questions….

Are you sure you aren't going to food service conferences?

Emilyngh

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2014, 07:57:53 PM »
Edited to add: after reading my post it really may not fit the topic-lol.   It's less about people being impressed with inconsequential as much as obsessed with inconsequential.   Feel free to ignore if you'd like.

My biggest irritation where I work is that people often make themselves feel better by writing long un-asked for letters, emails, and reports for the administration.   They spend days and days working on the order that things are presented in, inserting hidden jabs, and ego stroking points, and when written jointly with others, arguing about slight wording and points.

   While the reality is that at the very best these documents will get skimmed, and possibly not read at all.   It doesn't matter whether you first present random base-less complaint (a) or (b) first, your complainy-pants opinions and bitching about not getting your way on a stupid issue (that really doesn't affect anything more than your ego) are going to be in the recycling bin about 2 min after opened.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 07:59:25 PM by Emilyngh »

farmstache

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2014, 08:24:44 PM »
In my original field of work (architecture) inconsequential is all the rage. Structure is only valued if it translates into an elegant metal beam. Clients don't care if the room fits everything they asked you to fit in it in a simple home-like way (and you spent days trying to solve the puzzle), they just look at the drawings and ooohh and aaaah at the colors, at how the 3D rendering looks good, at the view you put outside the window, and of course at the furniture you used as an example.

I do concede that most people are spacially illiterate and can't really analyse a plan or view unless it's 3D and looks kind of real. And even then most can't really analyse the space, and only try to imagine themselves in that picture. Usually client requests are very general for the house plan (oh, 3 bed 2 baths, american kitchen, no stairs) and very particular for all kinds of stuff (this particular ceiling lamp, this kind of window between bath and garden, need to fit this and that into a shelf in the living room).

It's fun, but often frustrating. They skim over the plan you spent so long working on and focus on how that curtain has to be more transparent. :)

sol

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2014, 08:41:52 PM »
Isn't this the way all jobs work?  I've certainly never had a job where the hard work part was more appreciated than the clever or attention-grabbing part.

Remember the old adage about 10% of the people doing 90% of the work?  I think even that is really just 10% of the work getting 90% of the recognition. 

Tom Brady was a great quarterback, but he was part of a team and he couldn't win without receivers and lineman and trainers and coaches, so why did he get all of the attention?  Why did he make such large percentage of the team's total payroll?  Because people love to have something narrow to focus in on, a target upon which to heap their praise or ridicule.  Throwing the ball is an important part of winning Superbowls.  It is not the only part.

People buying a house will be smitten by stainless appliances and overlook a shitty floorplan.  Young men will fawn over enormous breasts and completely ignore a manipulative personality.  Apple fanboys will gloat about the Apple Maps 3D building view even while getting lost following its directions.  I think it's just the way we're wired, naturally prone to laserlike focus on a small number of easy-to-understand traits and not very good at holistic evaluation. 

And certainly terrible about critiquing technological improvements that we can't see.  Android phones aren't appreciably better today than they were four years ago, but how many four year old smartphones do you see around?  Round off those corners and roll out a new model, or get left behind.

Noodle

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2014, 09:21:11 PM »
It's the expertise bias (I think there is a fancier name for this), meaning the process by which specialists forget how something looks/works for those at entry level. To those of us working on the project, the benefits of the less visible but more important work are clear. But to our co-workers/customers, the minor but more visible details are what they can actually wrap their minds around. The person who can translate up and down the expertise ladder is a rare and precious thing...if you get a colleague like that, bring her homemade cookies on a weekly basis...

bop

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2014, 10:51:07 PM »
This topic reminds me of Parkinson's Law of Triviality:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson%27s_law_of_triviality

RichLife

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2014, 07:20:41 AM »
One thing I have found that makes user's lives so much easier and is actually something I love when they ooh and aah about is when I make them need to do less clicks / actions to achieve a result. Anyone doing any user interface design should take this lesson into account. Administrative staff who often repeat the same actions over and over will love you for it. Even more when you turn single tasks into batch tasks or automate boring things that a computer could do faster and better. Well, until you automate it so much you kind of make them redundant in their job. Then they suddenly hate you... :)

ender

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2014, 08:23:09 AM »
Congrats, you have discovered a key to a successful career. Do the things which matter to your bosses and coworkers and you are thought more highly of.

The 80-20 principle is a really easy way to identify tasks that matter and those which matter far less, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle


dividendman

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2014, 12:00:40 PM »
I generally get more recognition for my skills with excel, rather than any of the actual engineering work that I do.

I'm an accountant I get the same thing. "Oh, wow, you can do that with excel?"

I usually blow everyone's mind by using a pivot table to get any data they need live in a meeting - sigh... looks like my math degree wasn't worth it. I should have just took a one week excel class.

rocklebock

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2014, 01:13:48 PM »
Congrats, you have discovered a key to a successful career. Do the things which matter to your bosses and coworkers and you are thought more highly of.

The 80-20 principle is a really easy way to identify tasks that matter and those which matter far less, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

Yep. I spent the first three years at my job fixing productivity and management problems, with never so much as a "nice work." I finally figured out this year that what my boss really cares about is looking good in the eyes of other organizations like ours. If I send him an email saying, "Great news, we re-jiggered the whatsit workflow and increased widget productivity by 32%," I can't even count on a reply. BUT if I publish an article about it in a professional journal, it's the greatest accomplishment ever, great job Team Rocklebock, etc.

Kaspian

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2014, 12:24:24 PM »
Congrats, you have discovered a key to a successful career. Do the things which matter to your bosses and coworkers and you are thought more highly of.

The 80-20 principle is a really easy way to identify tasks that matter and those which matter far less, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

Yep. I spent the first three years at my job fixing productivity and management problems, with never so much as a "nice work." I finally figured out this year that what my boss really cares about is looking good in the eyes of other organizations like ours. If I send him an email saying, "Great news, we re-jiggered the whatsit workflow and increased widget productivity by 32%," I can't even count on a reply. BUT if I publish an article about it in a professional journal, it's the greatest accomplishment ever, great job Team Rocklebock, etc.

When given a programming assignment, I'll walk around and speak to each manager and (especially!) all the end users and ask what they would like to see.  When they see their little (mostly inconsequential) bell or whistle incorporated, they immediately embrace the new system no matter how different it is to the old one.   Users don't generally like the idea that all decisions were made for them by higher-ups (no matter how beautifully sleek and perfect a system is), they'll resist and resent the new thing.  But if they load it up and see their own fingerprint there--even if it's something tiny, they'll love the whole thing right away.  ...Weird that.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Amazed at How Impressed People Get with Inconsequential Things
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2014, 12:45:48 PM »
I generally get more recognition for my skills with excel, rather than any of the actual engineering work that I do.

I'm an accountant I get the same thing. "Oh, wow, you can do that with excel?"

I usually blow everyone's mind by using a pivot table to get any data they need live in a meeting - sigh... looks like my math degree wasn't worth it. I should have just took a one week excel class.

OMG. yes. this. being good at using Excel and Geographix is easily as important as being good at geology in my job, and I think it impresses people more because you can argue/have different opinions on the geology (never enough data), but if you show someone a better/faster/easier way to get something done with the software, they LOVE you.