Bangalore Week Wrap-up

Cow Temple

My week in Bangalore is coming to a close.  It was extremely interesting and informative.  My host, Vishwas, was very welcoming and took very good care of me – taking me to dinner, helping me get my local mobile phone working, and even shopping and sightseeing.   (Getting the mobile working was no small feat, Continue reading


Out in the field with Grameen

Me with Kendra 1

Center meeting to collect repayments on loans

First day in Bangalore I visited the Grameen-Koota head office, where I got a feel for the issues that they are facing with respect to upgrading and keeping financial records.  Second day was a visit to the field.  Grameen mostly deals with group loans, so their model is that each day a loan officer goes out to a center (kendra) to meet with 2 or 3 groups.  In urban areas, such as Bangalore, most center Continue reading

Timeout for a Design Rant

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for one of my “pet peeves” (and I have many according to my friends.)  But it’s design and travel related, so I feel it’s not too far off the mark.

Blackout Window Shades vs. Room Electronics – Who Wins?

This is by no means a problem unique to India, but I am reminded here because the room I am in has blackout window shades.  (This is probably related to the fact that most international flights arrive at 2am, which IS unique to India.  The other place blackout shades are prevalent is Las Vegas, but for a very different reason.)  Blackout shades are great, IF they actually block all the light.  The worst Continue reading

Safe or Sorry?

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 1.17.47 PM

After successfully getting visas to India and Kenya, getting immunized up the wazoo (cough, cough!), and obtaining an unlocked GSM phone for communicating locally while traveling (my first eBay purchase), I got an email from the VMware Security and Safety team (who knew we had such a department?) asking if I was aware that Kenya was classified as a “high risk” location.  I was already beginning to worry that I did not have any contacts in Kenya beyond the MFIs I would be visiting.  (I have no such worries about Bangalore – I’ve been there, I know people and VMware has an office there.)  People I talked to who’d been to or lived in Kenya told me not to worry, just be vigilant.  And don’t walk around after dark.  Other people said “Are you nuts?  Don’t you know they kill people with machetes over there?”

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Design and Workflow

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 3.45.49 PMA lot of people think that “interaction design” is just making things look pretty, but as the name implies, it’s more about how the user interacts with the design – can they get from step A to step B easily?  Does the workflow follow their expectations?  Can they figure out what to do next?  How many times have you stared at a screen on your laptop or smartphone and said “How do I do X?  I should be able to do X from here, shouldn’t I?”  Often, in this case, the designer didn’t think through the workflow well enough.

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First customer call!

What I love about user research is that I always learn something that surprises me and today’s call with a Mifos customer in Lebanon was no exception.  After working with the demo software and reading the user manual, I was beginning to formulate some user “personas” who are typical of the people who use the Mifos software and why.

Mifos Home Page

Mifos Home Page

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