Friday, April 4, 2008

Product Design for Charities

I'm in the middle of a product design process involving small charities and big, complex software. Generally not such a good combination. ;)

I've been trying to get the folks on the team to really understand who we are designing the technology for. I found the ultimate quote by Muhammad Yunus talking about the One Laptop Per Child computer.

He explains his own vision for a "digital Aladdin's lamp" - "a genie comes out of it and asks, 'What can I do for you, ma'am?' And she says 'I make these baskets but nobody buys them.' And the lamp says 'I will find somebody to buy it.' And the lamp comes back with buyers. She doesn't know about a keyboard or a computer. She just asks questions of the genie."
A charity doesn't need to understand ERP or CRM. They don't want to have to make sure to click these three boxes on a transaction. They just want to hit the gift button, enter a gift and be done.

I doubt we can do away with the keyboard or the computer. But it's possible to clearly define what questions we can help a charity answer, and allow them to ask those questions and understand the answers in plain English.

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