Archive for March, 2008

While reading restaurant reviews online, I noticed something about how I evaluate other people’s opinions of a business. Specifically, I would much rather go to a restaurant or other establishment that consistently rates four out of five stars, rather than one that gets equal numbers of threes and fives. In other words, when comparing places […]

One of my coworkers asked me to look over the contract from a coffee service that we’re considering. We’ve actually had this sort of thing for years, where they lease you the machine and you pay for the coffee that gets delivered every few weeks. But our old provider nearly tripled their delivery fees in […]

Word choices


If you want to communicate effectively, it’s generally a good idea to use the same words that your customers do. This rule applies whether you’re creating a website, writing a user’s guide, or designing navigational signage. I’ve seen this recommendation many times before, yet companies still get it wrong all the time. Here’s my most […]

Funny noises


I almost made a fool of myself while joining a conference call yesterday. Things started off normally: the automated prompt asked me to enter the number assigned to my call, and then it asked me to say my name after the tone. But instead of the usual “beep” or “ding”, it played a bizarre, almost […]

Ever send someone an email and get a canned reply saying they aren’t there? I receive these quite often, but I don’t understand why the response time is so inconsistent. Presumably, you configure your email program to send the response automatically whenever an email comes in during the period you’re out. If the whole thing […]

Here are some of the dumbest places that a manufacturer or repair center can place a sticker: – Directly on the screen, so they can spoil the elegant user interface by making you view it through a layer of sticky residue. – Right on the battery cover or access door and stretching onto the neighboring […]

Whenever I talk to someone who has only been speaking English for a few years, I’m pleasantly surprised at how clearly they communicate. Sure, they’re often self-conscious about their speech, but their limited knowledge of fancy words and sentence structure tends to make them very easy to understand. I think this phenomenon has useful implications […]