Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ideas on how you would improve Yelp!

Since the business case is broad and vague in its objective, I am coming up with a few ideas on improving Yelp in terms of business strategy and website modifications.

Business Strategy

1.      M&As to increase its customer base and international presence. This can be further investigated based on the results of recent acquisitions of Qype and SeatMe.

2.    Enter other emerging markets which include the BRIAC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China. Investigate how other business such as Amazon, eBay & Craigslist entered these emerging markets and how they have sustained and performed.

3.    Increase the service offerings to other products and services and categorize them into broad groups. Example – Review and Sales of books, review and sales of movies under a “Entertainment” category.

4.    Since Ads are the major source of income, analyze the current revenue recognition method for the customers and see if it needs to be renegotiated or if a new method of generating revenues needs to be implemented. A strong case for supporting this is:
a.    Percentage increase in revenue for a customer after registering with Yelp website.
b.    Percentage increase in revenue for a customer after positive reviews/ ratings received in Yelp website.
c.    Percentage increase in revenue for a customer based on number of clicks on in the Yelp website.

5.    Identify and research major competitors for Yelp and see how they have been performing and what actions they are taking to improve their business.

6.    Obtain feedback from both the customers and the users and try to see if they are value add. Modify the business process within Yelp accordingly – Perform A/B test before making it a permanent change.

7.    Customer / User loyalty programs can be introduced - Perform A/B test before making it a permanent change.


1.    The recent M&As and potential M&As Yelp needs to ensure that the Branding and UI of all the websites are consistent and clear.

2.    Building one parent website instead of having multiple websites and inter connecting links.

3.    More emphasis and importance can be given for customer and user feedback on their experience with Yelp website. Inputs received needs to be analyzed and based on a A/B test performed for a small set of population, we can decide to implement the feature permanently. Can provide perks to customer/ users for participating in this.

4.    Reduce the noise (Content / Information / Links) on the home page. Make the home page more dynamic and interactive and wanting a new / existing user to stay on and explore Yelp.

5.    Provide the “Suggestions” functionality based on the previous search history and website usage for a user. Can also make it more intelligent and provide this information based on your dietary needs / goals & preferences.

6.    Make the Maps – voices enabled / provide the option for users to open it on their own Maps applications such as – Google maps easily.

7.    Can implement continuous scrolling of the web page.

8.    User friendly UI which helps in - forming groups, tagging friends / sending the review notifications etc.

9.    Integrate in terms of gathering / sharing information with other social media networks such as Twitter & Facebook.

10. Data analytic of the many attributes and use it for building a better website / business.

11. Provide details on the nutritional value / calorie counts for the food.       

Monday, January 27, 2014

Microsoft - Part 1

I have been working with Microsoft Tools and Technologies for 5+ years now. They have very impressive and diversified set of products. Few example include Microsoft office, SharePoint, Windows OS, SQL Servere, Skype and Xbox. In my current company we are using IBM Lotus Notes as our email exchange server application. Soon we will be moving to Microsoft Outlook,  since IBM will stop supporting Lotus Notes in the near future. This news intrigued me to go and explore the Personal Email service provided by Microsoft Outlook.

Much to my surprise, I was able to get a User ID as Though happy, it made me wonder the number of people who have an outlook account! Microsoft must be already aware of this and working on making their Product more unique. TO learn more about how they are doing this I me explored the Outlook Website.  The key differences that were appealing are - Outlook Doesn't serve targeted ads based on email contents,  Outlook offers Virtually unlimited storage (free) and Outlooks can Connect to Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn. With these selling points of having an outlook account I created a user id and logged into the MS Outlook.

The UI looks very similar or close to the look and feel of Facebook page.I browsed across other Microsoft product webpages and found the UI / Product Branding to be inconsistent. Microsoft can work on having a consistent brand across its products. This will  not only boost the customer experience but also add to new customers for different products.

To write a new email the  user needs to "move" to a new page and when he/she does that we see there is a lot of space that is either unused or poorly used. Since the primary goal of the email account is to communicate the outlook product should be designed to implicitly offer this feature rather than prompting the user for multiple actions to get to this.

Here is a list of proposed features that can be added to Personal Email Accounts -

1. Attaching one email in another
2. Ability to open multiple panels to read / compose multiple emails in the same instance
3. Attaching the chat conversation into an email  for forwarding purposes
4. Functionality to see who has read the emails, if it was sent to many users / groups
5. Creating Polls / Group discussions based emails
6. When I download  files attached to the email, it should open in the same page as a panel ( Similar to Gmail) but it should open just as a continuation to the email

There are strong business cases and feedback which I have received from other people who would want these features to be added to their personal email account. The very fact that some of these features are already offered by some providers shows the they are used by many. Something MS can think off to differentiate themselves in the future.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Amazon - Part 1

Starting off with Amazon.. since I have been doing a lot of online shopping recently. This is both convenient & easy. I have always debated over the pros and cons of shopping online and much to my dismay I have started enjoying online shopping more and more. One of the striking features with online shopping is the feedback on products you get from consumers of the product as opposed to having no feedback when you buy things off the shelf in a shop/store. So recollecting my recent online shopping experience in and just briefly browsing the website from a product development perspective has resulted in the following observations / suggestions. Keeping it simple and short, I am coming up with two main discussion topics about I do believe there might be other things more important than the ones below but here is something to consider

One of the first things I wanted to check to see if the UI design and layout of the website is similar across different country websites. So I browsed the UK Amazon website and found it provided the same user experience. Naturally my next step was to sign in using my US account details and it didn't. What if Amazon can have one website with one account to login and browse ? The user can seamlessly perform transactions irrespective of their actual geographical location. A practical example would be -  On an average I spend at least 20% of my time outside US in any give year. I tend to perform at-least 2-3 amazon online transactions each month. If I did not have the barrier of country specific accounts I would be highly motivated to continue using outside US as well ( More frequently than what I do now).

My second observation was on the Screen Space usage within the Amazon website. Few things worth mentioning are-
1. Redundancy & Inconsistency between two adjacent controls in the UI design in terms of information shared and possible actions that can be triggered by the user.
 Shop By Department


2. Under Utilization of the Screen Space
A. On an average, I noticed the image space occupied in their website is way more than other websites with online shopping capabilities. Here's the visual comparison -


B. Gaps / Open Spots within the screen space that can be filled with information about the product or use it as real estate for revenue generations - Ads.

True is one of the market leaders in online shopping and with strong focus on making the website more user friendly and efficient they can achieve much more!


So as mentioned in my previous blog.. I am rekindling this blog spot to learn and share my thoughts on technology, product management and product design... I have a list of companies I would want to blog about... here is the 1st glance of the the mean time if I come across something that is off track I may drop in that as well so don't be surprised by it...

Since this is more like an experimentation I might probably not have a set pattern to my blogs on each of these companies... and the list here as mentioned before is a 1st draft and may change / alter over due course....

Enterprise Based
Consume & Enterprise Based
Consumer Based

No Companies
1 Microsoft
2 Cisco Systems
4 Thomson Reuters
5 Oracle
6 Hewlett-Packard
7 NetApp
8 Symantec
9 Google
11 eBay Inc.
12 Yahoo
13 Zynga
14 Intuit
15 Rain Bird
16 Adobe
17 Autodesk
18 Motorola Mobility
19 Wells Fargo
20 Facebook

Back in Action....

Hello Everyone,

I am going to be an active blogger in this to share my thoughts on technology & innovations. I intend to sharpen my critical analysis and problem solving skills with the latest & the newest in the technology domain... concentrating more on product development and product design. I have had this acute interest to enter the world of product management and I am hoping the blog will help me with that.

Thanks to everyone who is viewing my posts!