Looking Past the Screen

The best part of my job is spending the day with two people who are smarter than I. Amongst our gourmet sandwich lunches and brainstorming mobile CRM we get into fascinating discussions. 

Yesterday, we had a conversation about the user experience of Craigslist. Our very talented designer, Brian makes the case on his blog that they desperately need a redesign and is ripe for disruption. He’s always right. I’m sure it will happen. 

But, it made me think, do I like Craigslist? Do they provide a good user experience? 

In the past few months, I’ve used CL as both a buyer and seller. 

A few weeks ago, my wife and I decided to go watch Cirque du Soleil Totem (outstanding, don’t miss it) at the last minute. Of course, tickets were sold out. Checking on Craigslist, I found someone holding two tickets, who couldn’t attend and was selling them for under face value. After exchanging contact details, he emailed me two tickets as PDF files. He instructed, “Go to the show, enter the tent, find your seats. When you are settled, send me the payment.” That’s exactly what we did and had a great evening.

A few days later, I needed to sell my iPhone 4. I posted an ad and it only took 5 minutes to get my first response! (Pro tip: List your old iPhone in Fremont. That city has as unlimited thirst for used iPhones.) In the next 8 hours, I was swimming in people who wanted my phone. I met up with the first one and walked away with a pile of cash.

I loved my experiences! Getting last minute tickets to Cirque on a random Wednesday was awesome. Listing my iPhone took 5 minutes. It felt great to walk away with a pile of cash a few hours later! 

Craigslist is simple. Craigslist is free. I don’t have to create an account. I don’t have to login. I don’t have to share the transaction. I don’t have to make any commitments. Could it be better? Yes, of course – everything can be better. But regardless of how it looks, it enables experiences that make me feel great.

Technology is just a tool. User experience should be measured in how a person feels about the activity they are completing, not strictly about the tool.

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