Highly recommend @janchip’s Hidden in Plain Sight


Go get a copy. Highlighted these bits:

On designing for relevance:

Unless you’re designing wedding rings or pacemakers, there’s no such thing as a 24-7-365 user. My colleagues and I spend a great deal of time thinking about touchpoints – the times and places where users would likely be interacting with the product or service we’re designing – and triggers that would prompt users to act in one way or another during those times and in those places. These factors can highlight new opportunities to serve unmet needs, or to better tailor products and services to fit the circumstances in which customers use them. But in order to understand touchpoints and triggers, we have to take into account the boundaries that separate use from disuse – the border between doing and don’t-ing.

Discussing the Veblen effect:

Smart merchandisers find ways of generating “masstige”, prestige for the masses, by giving aspirants some facet of what they want in a way that fits within spending constraints, creating new markets by developing products that lower the barriers to entry. Just think about how many Ferrari key fobs there are out in the world relative to the number of actual Ferraris.

On electronic payment being positioned as convenient to the individual over society:

Consideration for the group over the individual is far more part of the Japanese psyche than in societies such as the United States or Germany, where people generally care less about those around them. (One of the strongest visual reminders of Japanese courtesy comes in winter: in other countries people wear masks to protect themselves from the germs of others; in Japan a sick person wears a mask to protect others from their own germs). In this equation, using paper tickets at the ticket gate (or coins at the convenience store checkout) comes with a perceptual risk of being slightly slower and holding everyone else up. As with any other adoption decision that people make for themselves, they do so for personal gain – but as individuals whose reputations depend on their compliance with social norms, they also do it for the greater good. At the heart of every social pressure is a prod that pushes individuals to do better, or more, or act differently, and perhaps try something new.

On the temporariness of technology and innovation:

Every piece of technology is like a hermit crab’s shell, and its users choose to occupy it because it meets their needs at the time they move into it. And just as hermit crabs change shells, people will invariably move on when their needs change or they find something that better suits them.

On trust:

Knowing the trust ecoystem in which consumers operate and knowing which positive cues will reinforce trust or allay concern is a matter that all good designers, product developers, and marketers – innovators of all stripes – must be able to address, whether their end users are making a simple cup of tea or managing their finances online.


Taobao, China’s equivalent of eBay, operates in a low-trust ecosystem, arguably even less trustworthy online than it is in person. The biggest transactional difference between eBay and Taobao is that Taobao created a dedicated chat platform, so buyers and sellers can sniff each other out in real time. Second, they allow customers to put payments into an escrow account until they’ve receved the product and are satisfied with it. In essence, Taobao not only mediates business transactions, it also brokers trust relationships between buyers and sellers. These differences were among the reasons why eBay failed in China, and Taobao has emerged as the clear winner.

Also really enjoyed reading the fascinating story of M-Paisa in Afghanistan.

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