Should you buy or rent your house when working as a Business Analyst?

I saw an article about the fact that millennials are still living at home with parents or renting. There is an expectation that eventually they will move into the home ownership market. Given this expectation, I wanted to give my 2 cents of advice.

Pre off shoring of white collar work, I would have not worried about buying a home and staying in it for my working life. However, times have changed and employers will consider not only local resources but also resources off shore.

Given that local resources are no longer a premium this also means there is less of a guarantee that you will be able to find work continually in the place where you live. Additionally the days of employers paying the cost of low level employee moving expenses more or less went away with the 90’s.

So what should you consider if thinking of buying a home?

1 – If you have to sell and use a relator it will cost you 6% of the sale price of the home.

2 – The first 10+ years of a mortgage, you are primarily paying interest on the loan. Unless you are in a fast appreciating market (which also carries the risk of a bubble) you basically are just paying the equivalent of rent. Can you expect today to be able to stay working in the same area 10 years later.

3 – If the job market dies where you have your home, then it will be very hard to sell.

4 – How hard is it to find a rental? If it is relatively easy to find a rental then that may be the way to go.

Benefits of renting.

1 – No sale costs when moving. Best also if the move is done near the end of the lease so that no lease breakage fee encountered.

2 – No issue with trying to find a buyer for your property.

3 – If your family grows, you can upsize your rental.

4 – When your work moves, you can as well.

In conclusion, think carefully before purchasing a property in the area where you are currently working as it may end up costing you money or limit your ability to find work.

 

Are you UX designers documenting the UX rules for your product?

If you think it is great to have wonderful graphics or industrial designers that claim to know UX and will help you build your wonderful whatever, think about how they will maintain consistency.

Time and time again, I run into situations where there is no documented rules followed by the UX folks. They do as they please with different designers adding in their own flavor. Products comes out in different blends of colors because one designer preferred a color over another.

It is like reading a book with chapters written by different authors.

Without a foundation of the rules being captured and documented it can be hard weeks, if not months later to work out what something should look like from a UX perspective. Time is wasted revisiting design decisions that were made in the past.

Make sure that whatever shop you use for your UX design actually knows how to do the job professionally.

Ask up front for the UX guidelines to be documented as they are defined. Don’t ever assume that just because everybody who works on your product comes from the same design shop that they will somehow know what is expected.

 

Jeep.com almost misses the mark

As I have talked in the past about the importance of web sites working, it was sad to see that Jeep.com failed a simple test.

Today I went out and typed in various parameters for the build of a new Jeep. Just in case Jeep.com is reading this article I will be specific in what I chose:

  • 2014 Wrangle Unlimited Rubicon
  • Bright White clear coat
  • Max Tow Package
  • Automatic with 4.10 axle ratio
  • Premium Black Sunrider soft top
  • Interior – default

So where does it fail.

Initially there are no exact matches with 25 miles of my Zip code of 30301.

I bump the search area up to 200 miles and now I am getting told of an exact match.

However when I click the link to view the vehicles via a popup page and then click on vehicle details such as powertrain they do not match – it gave me manual transmission after I had selected automatic – it seems from a quick scan that the details just shows the standard vehicle information before the changes I applied.

Jeep.com saves itself via one link on this vehicle details popup page – When I go to print off the “Window Sticker” it shows how Jeep.com was able to claim the exact match. All the details of the vehicle I am looking for is listed in that “Window Sticker”

My recommendation to Jeep.com – make “View Vehicle”  details actually represent the details of the vehicle being shown or ditch those details from the page as they cause user confusion. If it was not for the window sticker, the web site would have truly missed the mark.

It is important that features of a web site or application actually present the information a user expects.

 

Lessons in Lawnmower maintenance and product design

I wanted to use the analogy of a lawnmower to describe the impact of complexity on your product design.

Having had the joy of fixing lawnmowers over the years, let me describe the different experience two small walk behind machines gave me.

In both of the machines, they had a belt that drove a set of wheels on the lawnmower to make it easier to mow the grass.

One machine however was more deluxe:

  • Electric Start
  • Rear Drive – less slippage on wet grass

So which machine gave me the most problem? The more deluxe machine was the killer.

In terms of ownership costs the features of the deluxe machine made it a throw away device as parts started to fail. Compared to the simpler machine with less features.

The battery failed on the Electric Start – vibration caused the battery terminals to literally fall off. When the drive belt failed, it was an expensive job to replace. Numerous parts had to be removed (including the useless battery) to get at the belt and additionally the complex rear wheel drive gears were stripped adding to the cost of repair. In contrast the simpler front wheel drive motor just required some plastic shielding removed and the belts swapped out.

From a product perspective which is the whole point of this post, additional non critical features add cost. The product will cost more up front and cost more to maintain. Ask yourself what it is that your customer is looking for.

However there is one caveat to all this. If the features are required to sell your product, whether from the point of your user base being motivated into using it or from customers actually buying it, then there may be justification for going beyond non critical features.

Review your brand identity to work out what features do your customers expect. If I had bought the deluxe lawnmower from a reliability perspective I would have been turned off of the brand from my experience. However if I had bought it for the features with the knowledge that it was a throw away piece of equipment, then it was a great piece of work.