What an amazing post from Seth Godin today, and a terrific tribute to his Mom. It can't be lost on any regular reader of Seth's blog where he got his contrarian, "question everything" nature when you read that his Mom was not a fan of Mother's day and for such logical reasons. Way to go Seth's Mom!
I myself have a confession to make. This year, for no good reason at all, I forgot to call my Mom on Mother's day. Sure I could say it was because I was busy pampering my wife, and we went shopping for a new dishwasher cause the old one is dead, and then I got distracted with things around the house...but it's really just BS. Somehow or another I just plain forgot to call my Mom. My bad.
To her credit, she did not seem particularly disturbed about this when I realized my oversight and called her first thing Monday morning. I am guessing this is some combination of me being a relatively good son the rest of the year and having given her some nice clay pencil holders for Mother's day back when I was in grade school. In any case Mom, thanks for not making me feel worse than I already did.
Over the years I have told a number of stories about my Mom, usually to illustrate the challenge of designing high usability solutions on the web. For a number of years when I was running an e-business department my challenge to the design team was not to build a web-site that they could use, but to build a web-site my Mom could use. And every designer knew exactly what that meant, not because they knew how my Mom used the web, but because they could picture their own parents trying to figure out complex applications.
Thus was created the Tom's Mom standard for usability. Thanks Mom for helping me see things through the eyes of my customers and giving me the vocabulary and stories that resonated with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Not in a million years, nor with a billion dollar budget could an ad agency come up with our "right-click" story. (On the phone one evening trying to help her edit a document I kept telling my Mom to highlight text and then "right-click" and she thought I meant to write "c-l-i-c-k" - you can imagine how little my "help" actually helped with her document.)
It was through these joint troubleshooting adventures as the help desk to you and Dad that I truly came to appreciate the language barriers and faulty assumptions that all too frequently lead to bad technology and bad customer service experiences.
You told me once that you loved that I told people the "right-click" story because you felt like even after all these years you were still helping me with my career. Mom, you have no idea...