Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A cup doesn't need an instruction guide. Neither should your status page.

Apple designer Jonathon Ive said it best, "the way we understand a cup is its cuppyness." And it's true. We look at an item shaped like a cup, it's ability to hold a beverage and to be used to drink from based on the shape and its intended function as fitting the requirement to drink. Everything else after that becomes a matter of personal aesthetics (color/shape/designs on it), and things like the volume it holds, how it feels in-hand, whether it's dishwasher or microwave safe. When we've a requirement, even if we don't understand how to relay it, we will go back to a basic form to imply a function, and then get more discerning. With the personal computer experience being now defined more by mobile technology, that base ideal of 'form equals function' has become ever more important.

Twitter. LinkedIn. Facebook. Google+. Instagram. YouTube. These are amongst the most popular social networks for businesses today to get their messages across. And the one thing they all have in common is that they eschew the idea of css customization. Why? Because people who use them are on them are there for the content, not how pretty each user can make their corner of the platform. Also, these companies spend an insane amount of money, time and effort on research into the best way to get your content across. Do you believe you know better than them? They are the experts on how to best present the content being showcased.

You don't build your status pages for your company; you build them for your customers. At statushub, we're often asked why we don't allow people to either have custom CSS, or to customize their hubs more. The simple reason is; we believe the functional purpose and layout of our solution is how we see the usefulness of statushub.

We believe given our long standing collective history working in managed services for hosted software, infrastructure as a service, internet services and web hosting that a status page is about a single purpose ultimately; the easy communication of currently relevant uptime or availability information that can be ascertained from a single glance from an alert notification guiding you to it. From our point of view, we bring our expertise on status services to our customers and your users alike to get the maximum benefits to your organization.

In 2011, HubSpot released a survey where they found that 76% of users said that the most important factor in the design of a website was that “The website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” Only 10% of users said, “beautiful appearance” was the most important thing to them.

Spending time getting your status page service into play & being useful is far more important from an opportunity cost point of view than fiddling with CSS in the name of 'prettiness'. A cleanly presented, easily understood solution that you can fit into your service stack is & should always be preferable. And we've been taking this even further as part of our  simplicity revolution drive.

Instead of trying to redefine the UI experience, we believe we should build on common experiences people have from services like Twitter, Facebook & Google to help make that opportunity cost of getting a status page into your customer service stack even quicker by reducing the learning curve to a pleasant, mild-mannered stroll.

Going one step further - why do so many sites look very similar today in their design? Because it's a design that works, that is easy to follow & get at the information your customers need. Many web agencies will tell you that custom design is becoming less & less, and template designs based on bootstrap are becoming the norm.

This has very little to do with up-front cost; it has come down to the end-user's understanding, acceptance & expectation of presentation. Even if you look at the design of apps on mobile devices, the experiences are very much similar in their presentation and user-flow design. This comes down to reducing the learning curve of not only use, but for those who want to develop apps by giving them a tried & tested framework for their apps usability.

We're not saying that we're the only ones who've gotten this right in this market (that would be arrogance in the extreme - everyone in this market has their own takes on how to present this based on their experiences), but we know from our experience of having to use status pages as part of service delivery in the spaces we've collectively worked in what's important, how we've wanted the information conveyed & displayed. And we're obviously doing something right as many who use the services agree, understand our ideology & love the no-frills-get-it-deployed approach to make their statushub work for them in their customer service stack.