Friday, August 02, 2013

Coffee and UX

Sometimes, user interface changes can result in unexpected user experience impact.

The office coffee machine broke down last week, and was promptly replaced.

From this

it became this

Essentially it is the same machine, but instead of having analog knobs, it has a number of buttons.

The problem is: not everyone has the same taste in coffee

Whereas before, regardless of whether the previous person likes a strong espresso or a watered-down coffee, I could always go up to the machine and twist the two knobs (controlling strength and volume) without thinking to get my perfect coffee, now I have to click, on average, six times before the machine understands what I want!

I am thinking: user test your product in real-life situation...

Mandrill Template Manager

As a product manager, I am a fan of the Mandrill service. With its template support, we can iterate on email content and layout with relative ease. However, to generate templates, there are a number of steps involved in the workflow, which can be quite manual and errors can easily occur:

  • combining different html files (header, footer, etc) together to build the complete html
  • inlining css
  • generating the plain text
  • copy and pasting final html and plain text into Mandrill
So I set out to create a PHP library to automate all these for me. Check it out here:


I decided to keep the core PHP class quite simple. For examples, it handles strings instead of files. However, I have provided a example which illustrates how to effectively use the PHP class, working with mustache templates, css files, config files, etc.

Hope you find it useful, and I look forward to hearing some feedback.

P.S. I got to learn quite a bit about the excellent Composer tool, which I highly recommend.