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My Children Will Be Shining, Covered in Diamonds. The Songs of 2013.

So much music this year. So many great songs. Here’s a few that attached themselves to my world.

Take What You Can Carry – The Maine

Song for Zula – Phosphorescent

Clash The Truth – Beach Fossils

Recovery – Frank Turner

The Woodpile – Frightened Rabbit

Joy to You Baby – Josh Ritter

Nightlife – Off With Their Heads

Hip Hop Kids – Portugal. The Man

Husbands – Savages

Honey – Torres

My Molly – Ariel Pink and Sky Ferreira

All The Old Heroes – Joseph Arthur

13 Albums for 2013

13 LPs for 2013

I had a bizarre and surreal year, and gladly the music that found its way to my ears suited the mood.

Overall, this was a year of amazing songs punching me in the face. Also, the art of the album cover was taken up a notch and the packaging of the vinyl was on par with the great LPs of the 70s I remember from my childhood. Big gatefolds, booklets and photograph to inspire.

Agnes Obel – Aventine
A glistening dream of piano and voice that makes everything seem beautiful.

Savages – Silence Yourself
I first saw them on Jools Holland, where they proceeded to destroy the place. An amazing debut LP.

Josh Ritter – The Beast In Its Tracks
If you’re into amazingly written and performed songs, listen.

Over the Rhine – Meet Me at the Edge of the World
A double album of truly amazing songs about love and the world.

Colleen Green – Sock it to Me
The guy who runs my local record store called this the album of the year. I told him that was an overly bold claim, yet here it is.

Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle
Quadrophenia as written by a powerful young woman.

Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
There’s something about this band that I can’t describe, something about elevation and movement.

The Julie Ruin – Run Fast
New songs by one of the best voices in punk. She hasn’t lost a bit.

David Bowie – The Next Day
A magnificent surprise from the king. Equally biting and beautiful.

Phosphorescent – Muchacho
Because sometimes I feel like a great story.

Volcano Choir – Repave
Possibly my favorite of the year. If you need a soundtrack to a surreal year, this is it.

Joseph Arthur – The Ballad of Boogie Christ
A story told across 2 slices of vinyl. Contains some of the best songs I heard all year. His finest moment to date.

Torres – Torres
Songs and a voice that grab you and give a good shake.

Day 006 – Technology for Pets

  1. Always on GeoLocation
  2. Nike + for Dogs
  3. Laser teeth cleaning
  4. Personal proximity invisible leashes
  5. Collars that measure vital signs
  6. Pull toys with a strength meter
  7. Nanobots for worms and other internal issues
  8. Flea-proof coating
  9. 100% technology overhaul of every Veterinarian office worldwide
  10. Universal translator

Brands are Fragile: The Boring Underdogs

Saw this tweet go by earlier today from @mbrit, retweeted by @mobile_justin

[quote style=”boxed”]Firefox OS/Ubuntu is *at this point* basically the same as trying to make a car and go up against Ford, VW, etc.[/quote]

My response was this:

[quote style=”boxed”]Not a fan of Firefox at all, but that’s what they said about Kia and Hyundai 10 years ago.[/quote]

It got me thinking a lot about the boring underdog, of which both Toyota and Honda were at one time, and how the steady and unwavering adherence to a couple strong brand tenets can move an unknown into the mainstream.

We love our underdogs as long as they’re good looking or have a great story. We don’t care much for the boring underdog that relies on effort and time over hype.

Both Kia and Hyundai were boring underdogs. Cheap, ugly cars which most believed were headed for the junk heap a year after purchase… And maybe they were, but something interesting happened: quality got better, prices stayed lower and they hit the big guys where it really hurt. Both the Korean brands offered warranties unparalleled and unmatchable by other OEMs.

They really kicked the biggies in their tiny balls with that one. They improved quality and stood behind it for ten years. Not just on the things they knew wouldn’t break, but on everything. TEN YEARS. Nine years, 11 months and 30ish days from purchase, anything bad on your vehicle would be fixed or replaced. That’s a declaration of quality and commitment.

Here’s a dirty little secret about cars… They’re cheap pieces of shit. When a car is getting ready for production, the money whores start crushing the spirits of designers by removing the items that made the vehicle interesting. Anyplace costs can be reduced, they are.

If you’ve ever wondered why everything goes to shit right after the warranty runs out, I’m going to spill the beans: the OEMs know the lifespan of the shit they sell and frame warranties to avoid major costs for repair and replacement of the shit they knows is destined for failure.

There’s a whole story to tell here about planned obsolescence, dealer service guarantees and the booming business of extended warranties, but you get the idea. Back to the boring underdogs…

Very few people loved Hyundai and Kia when they released their first cars in the US. Now they’re as common in a consideration set as Toyota or Ford, and Hyundai is making strong moves in the luxury set.

They proved their value and earned their brands when automakers around them were laying back like fat walruses on the past reputation of their brands.

Hyundai and Kia, two slow and uninteresting, non-sexy brands saw where their completion was weak, found their points of overblown hubris and kicked them hard.

A nice word of caution for any brand that thinks they’re untouchable.

(Also, does this mean Firefox OS has a chance?  Probably not, but around 1995 very few believed Apple could come back either).

(Second Also, remember both Korean brands were backed my massive corporations with deep pockets.  This was no fluke, it was a focused effort to buy marketshare through consumer value, maybe Microsoft should pay attention).

The Top 5 Albums of 2013 (So Far)

It’s the middle of July, a bit past due for the mid-year check of the best LPs out there, but I’m slow.

Here’s the goods. All these LPs are worth buying on vinyl and having spinning frequently. They are no particular order, as I won’t rank until end of year.  Yes, I know there’s eight albums in my five albums list… make your own fucking list if you only want five.

beachfossils

Beach Fossils – Clash the Truth
The long bike ride on a summer day, sun breaking through the leaves of the trees as they sway in the breeze.

bleached

Bleached – Ride Your Heart
The first kiss from the girl you know will be trouble, but that’s what summer is for.

joshritter

Josh Ritter – The Beast in its Tracks
The sound of happiness when you see the sun in the sky and remember everything is OK, even when it’s all fucked up.

colleengreen

Colleen Green – Sock It To Me
Grooving down the city street after a few beers, smiling at the world.

lauramarling

Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle
The LP you started spinning at 9pm, and are still replaying at 2am. A beautiful voice in the night.

portugal

Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
For those days when the world seems a bit askew and you’re feeling a bit devious.

frightenedrabbit

Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
Nothing but the hopefulness that shines through ordinary life.

edharcourt

Ed Harcourt – Back Into the Woods
The cool breeze that comes in your window and caresses your face as you fall asleep.

 

Also need to be mentioned:
David Bowie – The Next Day
Savages – Silence Yourself
Bad Religion – True North
Face To Face – Three Chords & A Half Truth
Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart
Gemma Ray – Down Baby Down
Laura Stevenson & the Cans – Wheel
Off With Their Heads – Home
Phosphorescent – Muchacho

I Don’t Have a Portfolio (I Really Should).

I’m sure by now everyone has seen The Worst Portfolio Ever. The snarky and much needed screed against lightweight “lifestyle” portfolios.

I got a good laugh out of it, but also realized my own portfolio is shit.

I currently keep and handful of recent projects in Keynote that I show when people ask, and do the crude HTML export and post that for peeps who don’t understand Dropbox or are still using computers designed for primates.

It’s total shit. I’m fully aware of this. It’s unfair to the work I’ve done and I have to apologize to my past lives constantly for putting them in such a horrible light.

As a hustler and full time project taker, I really should promote my past work.  It’s part of the game.

I hate looking backwards.  I hate thinking the work I’ve done is better than any work I’ll do today or tomorrow.

Here’s a bit of boasting: I’ve done more work I’ve forgotten about than most pros do in a year… from time to time, I find work I’ve done has won awards long after they’ve been bestowed… I don’t find myself defined by the work I’ve done, I define myself by the work I want to do.

Fun, right?  People who have projects and start-ups and are looking for real talent understand these things.  People who are tasked with finding talent for good short- and long-term projects seriously don’t.

Recruiters and Scouts don’t see talent, they match perceived skills and experiences to an arbitrary scale needed to make their jobs easy.  I really shouldn’t care, but many times they have good money behind them, and much like Frito in Idiocracy stated “I like money!”

But, sadly the cobbler’s children have no shoes.  My portfolio will remain shitty for a while.  I have it on my to-do list for this morning, but find myself typing up words saying my portfolio sucks rather than fixing it, and now I’m off to a day of meeting with clients who I enjoy working with and am creating awesome work for. Work I love, but ultimately hope is never my best.  My best is always to come.

 

Designing for In-Dash Automotive. A UX Primer.

Most design documentation for in-car use is focused on safety. Sadly, these guides regurgitate the stats on texting and driving, then call it a day.

I wrote this guide specifically for UX professionals who are expanding their knowledge of design to include in-car devices and have already seen the “It can wait” bumper sticker.  I do include a fair amount of safe driving points, but expound on what’s unsafe around the sacred trinity of driver safety: Driver Distraction, Driver Reach, and Driver Attention Span.

The guide may contradict many UX practices for the screen, but it’s focused on more of an augmentation to existing UX tenets and leans far more towards a mobile approach than a desktop approach. It is fair to assume in-dash devices should be held in similar range of understanding as apps on mobile devices or interactive TV, and any designs should be kept along those same lines of low-use understandability.

Please Note: This guide is far from comprehensive.  

It is the beginning point of an emerging style of design that we, as UX pros, need to be active in moving forward.  Much of this guide consists of simple snippets of advice needing more detail as the complexity of design emerges.

Let’s Jump In!

Our Driver

For the sake of understanding, this guide uses “The Driver” as its main user persona. This persona indicates basic human factors for safe driving, non-distracted interactions and physical measures for most passenger vehicles.

The persona does not take into account the wide variance in technographics and understanding of basic UI formats that will be encountered.

UI Basics

Many of these may overlap or contradict existing accepted methods, but will supersede them as using technology while driving takes precedence over any conflicting best practices.

For designers who have never created in-dash systems, it’s important to research the capabilities of the hardware with regard to screen display, audio capabilities, user input capabilities and device co-ordination with vehicles. These abilities will inform your design greatly.

The first use of the system should set the groundwork for consistent behavior. As time is an important factor, the design of the UI must be Clear, Easy and Obvious to the driver, so superfluous animations or presentation of the UI are discouraged.

With every use, the driver should be aware of system options, how they can pre-set as many items into the system, and if the system allows for voice commands.

The Grid
The design of a standard grid for each screen should take three things into account at all times:

  • The design must present a consistency of information dispersal.
  • The design must provide consistent and easy access to basic features and progressional actions.
  • The design must take into account the reach of driver, expectation of minimal attention spans and placement of tappable areas requiring minimal recall.

These three items are constants regardless of screen size, functions of applications or resolution of screen.

Consistency of Information Dispersal
The grid should account for the majority of the screen to be used to convey information, with minimal need to scanning. The centered area is commonly the first accessed by a driver’s vision and therefore is the best place for immediate feedback.

The standard app structure should account for 3-4 major zones of activity:

  • Main Content Area
  • Primary navigation / feature set access
  • Action areas for current task
  • Alerts and notices (both active and passive)

Once the basic grid has been established, it should not be altered for fringe cases of activity. During the design process, the grid will adjust as needed, but final design should have a locked structure.

Note the grid does not have to be mathematically relevant, but designed for need and size of available screen size, activity and content.

The active areas of the screen should be considered for easy recall of action for the driver.

  • Recall of driver is imperative in any in-dash application. For most purposes, assume the driver has 1-2 items of focus at any time, with less than 2 seconds of driver attention per action or interval. Any additional demands of driver’s cognitive space will cause distraction and unsafe driving.

This restriction will allow for the emergence of an active UI that minimizes distraction and places focus on the core even that is occurring.

Consistency of interaction types should be maintained at all times. As an example, if “OK” is the trigger for all actions, it should be consistent in placement, action and effect.

Reach of driver is variable and unpredictable. Placing tappable items closer to the driver is a key factor is in-dash success. Assume the right edge of the screen, closest to the passenger as a dead zone for suitable interaction.

At times this area is very valuable, but understand any shift in driving position puts the driver and others at risk.

Be aware of the shape and contour of the device itself, and how a beveled edge, the shape of the mount or inset into the dash may cause objects close to the edge of the screen to lose targetability of the tap area.

Application Structure
With any in-dash application, the system design is more important than the visual design.

This is not to minimize the importance or impact of a beautiful design, it is simply to place the focus on the design of the experience as a whole, not just the visual aspect.

Structured application design is a skill that some designers do not have opportunity to accrue. Following is an explanation of the Hub and Spoke approach, which produces shorter activity cycles and major areas for drivers to re-orient themselves.

It is strongly recommended that this approach be attempted.

Hub and Spoke Design
The Hub and Spoke is a simple structure that places the user at the center of activity, allows for rapid access to core features, then returns user to the central point.

This approach increases recall of available actions, shortens time to arrive at a task and provides exit modes in the event of user error.

All tasks are to be action based, with no use of noun-based listings of “Places.” This approach will call into focus, a far more useful and usable range of opportunity for the user.

Sub Modal Processes
Any progressional feature that branches from the hub needs to be kept short and concise. A minimization of any process is encouraged, and designers should strive for a maximum of three steps within any process.

Any process that results in simple informational display should be examined. In many cases these processes are moot as the resulting information is status based and can simply be displayed without adaptation.

Visual Design
Visual acuity and recognition in in-dash applications is a vital key to the success and safe use of any system.

Designers should reference key trends in flat and clean designs and avoid complex and intricate graphical elements.

If two things can be stressed in the visual design, it is the following:

  • If a graphical element provides no function or obvious use, it should be removed.
  • The user should be delighted in the visual UI, how responsive the UI performs and how clear and obvious the features are presented.

Color and Contrast
In-dash applications rely on contrast to differentiate key areas, actions and visible active items. Subtlety in a color palette is not something to strive for. Select a palate of bold, easily divergent colors and apply in a methodical pattern to the layers of the UI. Transparency and shading within a single color range should not be considered a viable use for differentiation of key items.

Use of contract to indicate changes to state or draw users attention to important items is critical. Use strong solid colors with clear text rather than shaded, extruded or beveled buttons in conjunction with text with visual effects.

Keep in mind the screen type may render some colors / color distinction invisible in direct sunlight, while other screen types may have glare that will cause difficulty in viewing low contrast color palettes.

A good rule of thumb is to initially design your application entirely in grayscale and textures. This will allow for an understanding of contrast and differentiation needed for proper use of the UI. As you add color to the design, be aware of how the addition enhances or degrades the usability and visual acuity of the UI.

Nighttime Viewing
When dealing with color and contrast, be aware of the brightness of the interface during night driving, and the potential of the device to affect the eyesight of the driver.

In most cases, having a darker or neutral background should be considered for this reason alone. A stark white background will have effect on the ability of the driver to conduct safe driving in dark environments.

Some devices will have the ability to dim, if so, consider how the dimming affects the UI, whether or not there is a nighttime view, or if the dimming is a user-controlled part of the interface.

If a separate night view, or any selection of views is considered in the design, first be aware of any auto-dimming abilities of the device. Selection of modified views is simply a compounded learning effort by the driver and not something that should be expected to be a known attribute.

Depth
single overlays are preferred, and any multi-pane scenario should be killed (along with the designer who suggested it).  Shading and other depth-related items do not need to be huge to be effective.  Many times these are merely screen space eaters, so use wisely. Use color/texture differentiation to separate areas of the screen, and set a series of tiered alerts or notifications that are visually differentiated.

If buttons or tappable areas are given the appearance of depth, ensure there is user feedback that shows they have been activated. If the appearance is merely artifice, consider changing to something with similar visibility but no expectation of visible results.

Iconography
Use icons over text wherever possible. Use text sparingly and write clear direct short and concise copy. If designer has issues finding correct icons, consider need, naming and placement of the feature.

Please note that if you have a concern about too many icons lining up next to each other, and a driver’s inability to discern one icon from the next: You have an application level problem, not just an icon problem.

Nowhere should there be more icons than can be easily identified, accessed and distinguished from another. If you have a long-assed row of them, you’ve failed to segment the features of the app properly, go back to the user journeys and adjust accordingly.

Branded Visuals
In modern design of digital devices, we need to consider function as brand.

This is a big step for some designers who rely on repetitive messaging and visuals to be the primary brand representatives. In this style of design, refer to the brand ideals for how an app should feel, the voice it should take to interact with a user and the overall emotive quality of digital interaction.

There may be recommendations in this document that are counter to brand approved fonts, colors and style. If there are conflicts with brand style guides, you are strongly urged to update those style guides with new variations for this type of application.

Voice and Gestural Commands

If the device supports audio or gestural commands, it is highly recommended that they be used.  This is the stuff of a much longer post as vocal commands, the software’s ability to respond and the training of a driver is a massive thing to design and discuss.

Understand that audio have limitations based on the host device’s integration with the vehicles existing audio input and speaker system. This will need to be assessed specifically when a software/hardware and I/O protocol are established.

Gestures are becoming more and more useful and obvious to many consumers and can lead to activating key areas of the application without needing the driver to focus on the device visually.

If gestures are to be used, consider basic driving issues such as unintentional rapid scrolling, or the vehicle itself moving at inopportune moments.

Testing Recommendations
Testing the device and interface in real-world situations is highly recommended.

Without a full visualization and simulation environment, traditional testing will not be appropriate for significant results.

 

As I stated, this is merely the beginning.  If there are any in-dash designers working on something they’d like to discuss or show off, please give me a shout!

 

Can Lean UX Happen Here?

A fellow UXer posed this question to the community:

Please help me complete this sentence, “You’re not practicing Lean UX if …”

He added these constraints:

I ask this because we’re working hard at making Lean UX fit into our organization and we have opinions on what the fundamentals are (early customer validation, user problem statement, customer hypothesis, etc …); however, we have a unique set of limitations. For example, we can’t necessarily co-locate, or we don’t have the physical environment that allows for open communication (cube farm). We think we can still practice the fundamentals of Lean UX successfully despite this.

My first thought on this was “He’s asking the wrong question.”

I think reducing the issues into a single statement, no matter how pointed or nuanced, doesn’t consider opportunities only detriment.

If the question was turned around to “How can we be lean in our situation?” I think a better, or at least different, set of responses would be had.

I’ll start with one of my big concerns: It’s hard for a UX team to do Lean UX in an organization where the mindset doesn’t expand beyond the UX team.

This is the same issue I have with development teams who claim to be agile, but still sit around waiting for the Photoshop file. You can’t be part agile, and you can’t be part lean.

This doesn’t mean groups can’t draw upon lean ideas to work smarter.

So I’d suggest a few things:

Break efforts down into smaller, goal-oriented projects
Not every project=Get all the work done. Setting expectations of success for each project changes the tone and focus. If a project is framed as “Design around concept X for the purposes of testing Y” it falls outside of an expected development cycle and can escape the scrutiny and criticism of outsiders who don’t share the lean mindset.

Tools won’t save your communication problem, so find out what’s holding it back
In agile, standups exist for a reason. A rapid triage of status and projection. I’d take that on as a daily endeavor, whether in person or virtually using the simplest of technologies. (I find that Google Hangouts is ideal for this). Don’t veer into “maybe” conversations. The project has a goal and a reason to exist, so focus only on what needs to discussed.

Use the evidence already gathered
Lean projects rely on evidence gathering, validation or dismissal of ideas and the ability to change course quickly when this evidence points in a different direction than anticipated.

Spend time making sure the team understands the status of the project, what’s been proven and what’s still a product manager’s delusion.

If a project is dropped in your lap with no validated hypothesis, you have a problem. Where is the market research? Where is the customer gen plan? When did the initial financial model get tested? This is all work that UX should be aware of, but a larger team should have already been working on.

Get your developers on board, but don’t keep them lingering
Testing paper or semi-interactive wires or comps is only effective to a point. Prototyping iterations or parts of the project needs to be done for evidence gathering, so a dedicated developer is needed at times. This doesn’t mean they need to be there daily if the tasks don’t include them. Know when to bring them in and when to cut them loose and work with the project manager to get that smoothed out.

Understand the future each time it changes
A lot of people will tell you to avoid an end state as that assumes a full understanding of the product.

This is bullshit, every test does not de-rail the future, it simply puts a sharper focus on how close to the future state is from the current.

The future vision is just that… the future. Proper lean efforts will bring that future closer or change the distance. Don’t avoid the future, you can’t prove things right or wrong without having a good understanding of where you want to go.

 

 If you have some thoughts, send them to andrew@revinity.com, I’ll send them along.

30 Years of Punk

220px-Let_them_eat_jellybeans

30 years ago, punk happened for me.

That seems like an insane thing to say. I’ve been a punk for 30 years. Three decades of looking for the underground, seeking the new, not giving much of a shit about the top 40.

30 years of taking the other side because it was usually right, of questioning everything someone said was true, of making decisions based on my own judgement and not others. 30 years of skewed vision, of adventurous thought, of gravitating to art and music and film and books that came from a different point of view.

30 years ago I was 14, almost 15. It was 1983 which was a good year for punk that was finding it’s way to the mainstream.

Rock the Casbah and Rebel Yell were loud and fun. New Wave bands were emerging left and right and being played on Detroit radio. The Ramones were never threatening, they were fun and happy, I had heard them and danced like only an 80s nerd could.

In 1983, MTV still played videos, radio stations were still manned by actual DJs who would play the good stuff on late night shows and oddball cable shows like CBCs Nite Flight would have great movies and music until dawn.

Punk, and the music that evolved out of it, was out there, but it was really just a slice of what was modern. It was becoming part of the mainstream.

Then I found American Hardcore and my life changed.

It was my older brother who hung out with a bunch of older low-wage guys at his low-wage job in catering who brought home the first hardcore album I heard.

It was the Alternative Tentacles complication “Let Them Eat Jellybeans.” It kicked me in the head and in the heart and made me into the minor-league sociopath and well-behaved troublemaker I am today.

The album (well, side one anyways) is, to this day, like a greatest hits of the era. It’s music that made me realize that with all the crazy things that were happening in music in 1983, there was the real world there for me to find.

DOA, Black Flag, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, the Subhumans playing short, fast songs with energy and life that was absent from what I knew.

And then Ha Ha Ha by Flipper kicking it off. What better way to know you’re not in Waterford, Michigan anymore. Holy crap, that song STILL fucks people up. It makes them uncomfortable and angry, and I sing every word every time I hear it.

One of the amazing things inside the record was a giant fold-out lyrics sheet in a style of art I took to immediately. It didn’t do me any favors in art class where turning in projects that showed Ronald Reagan with $666 dollar bills falling out of his pockets and a swastika on his forehead were frowned upon.

It was also the first time I saw the Black Flag and Dead Kennedys logos. I was hooked on the sound and the art. I was a goner.

On the fold-out was a list of other hardcore bands. I spent hours reading the band names and set to task finding as many as I could.

Luckily the dollar bin at Sam’s Jams, a local Detroit record store of legend, yielded quite a few finds. I found myself listening to Agent Orange, TSOL, the Adolescents, Bad Religion, False Prophets, 7 Seconds, Social Distortion, Social Unrest, Minor Threat and Fear all from that list. I wondered what the Go-Go’s were doing on there, oblivious to their beginnings.

That album also introduced me to the idea of labels being trusted. I knew anything I found on Alternative Tentacles, Dischord, SST and many others was usually going to be really good. This DIY attitude and belief that the majors are not where the good stuff is persists. I created my own publishing imprint for the same reasons.

I found punk friends and we started going to hardcore shows at the Graystone. A critical piece of Detroit musical history that barely gets a nod in books and documentaries about the city.

I got to see the Descendents, the Flaming Lips (yes, for real), MDC, Black Flag (which turned out to be their final show and rightly so) and so many others. I found local bands who played basements of clubs and shitty bars I had to sneak into and backyard parties.

As I’ve gotten older and found life being a strange and wonderful thing, I’ve loved all types of music, but I can always go back to hardcore and find something happy.

And it continues, even after punk and hardcore became part of the mainstream. I still manage to find pockets of amazing bands making their own sound and I let it shape my life and my work. Punk never died, it changed and stayed the same and sometimes smelled a bit bad (I’m looking at you, crusties) but it’s still there if you look for it. It’s where it needs to be, off the top ten and playing clubs with a joy and anger and fun and danger it’s always had.

I still have a handful of LPs and 7″ from that time. I’ve lost a lot along the way, traded some, broke some, some got girlfriended and I’m pretty sure my brother has a hidden stash in his basement.

But that’s ok if he does… I have that original copy of Let Them Eat Jellybeans from 30 years ago. It still sounds fresh and there’s no fucking way I’m giving it back.

Brand is Experience: The Auto Dealer Sidebar

Not that long ago, I had a room full of auto dealers in a frothy rage.

I made the logical, smart and forward-thinking comment (along with a lovely designed version of the screen) that car shoppers don’t give a shit about franchise law and are going to use the internets to help them find a car at any dealer based on price and availability.

I went further, suggesting that the days of “We’ll order that one for you” and swapping cars with other dealers was dead. That dealer loyalty was dead and I fully expected one of the dealers to become no more than a Photomat booth in a parking lot with paperwork and keys to new cars, having handled all the time-consuming and consumer loathing business online.

photomat

If they had tomatoes, they would have thrown them. Needless to say, my views on dealership tools was set to the side in favor of new FLASH-BASED SITES, MOTHERFUCKERRRRR!

Here’s the thing that got me in the most trouble. See this map?

dealermap

See how I’m showing where cars that match the user preference are available? See how convenient and easy for shoppers to decide where they wanted to go, how far they wanted to go and when they wanted to go?

Well, that’s not quite against the law, but many in that room were claiming they’d sue if it ever saw the other side of a consumer’s monitor.

HERE’S WHAT’S KILLING THE CAR INDUSTRY!

Well, one of the big things. People can argue all they want about unions, lack of innovation inside, supply chain management fuckups, manufacturers being 10 years behind in electronics and so on.

I will tell you, those are easy problems to fix. The hard one is the entrenchment of dealers hiding behind ridiculous laws put in place by those very same dealers.

Business innovation will not be happening for any established OEM soon, and you can see the horrible effects of these chickenshit dealer laws in the State of New York where dealer groups are trying to shut down Tesla Motors selling to the public directly.

From the article at TechCrunch

[quote style=”boxed”]”The bills, which were proposed last week and supported by auto dealers in New York state, would “require that cars can only be sold and registered when sold by a third party, which would be a dealer or a private seller” and ban car companies from seling their wares direct to consumer”[/quote]

Ummmm.. WTF?

Is this really a threat to someone’s livelihood?

Oh wait, you mean dealers might have to turn in their 1989 PCs and stop with the arcane math that doesn’t exist in rational computation, and do more than tie some balloons to windshield wipers?

Wake up bitches, it’s 2013… you should have been doing something 10 years ago and you’d only have been 10 years too late.