Such a Thing as Over Compensation

Is it possible to plan too much, over-develop, and do too much exploratory testing? Is over-compensating really a thing when it comes to software development?

During my regular TV watching, a Walmart commercial came on with a child and her pacifier. Every time the girl dropped her pacifier on the ground, the dog came and walked away with it, and mom proceeded to ordering a new pacifier. Thus the commercial continued with a few key points:

  • Ordering a pacifier every time your child drops theirs on the ground is a little overboard.
  • The box that the pacifiers (and eventual other orders) came in was massive.
  • It doesn’t appear like the mom is actually using the app/website, but rather a mock UI or video that was created for the commercial.

Let’s break this down.

Ordering Upon Need

The idea of this commercial advertising the need to order an item every time that yours drops or gets dirty is a definite sign of over-compensation. No one needs to place an order that frequently, nor should the consumerist world order a singular item this often. I can’t tell by the Walmart commercials I have seen, if they are trying to push frequent ordering or materialism. I’m not against frequent ordering if they have matched the behemoth in online ordering, and given me free shipping on every order.

However, if this is the case, they should chose more than 15 pacifiers and a new cup (because theirs fell into the mud), to order by the end of the commercial.

Don’t over compensate for the need of a pacifier or a sippy cup.

Shipping Materials

Another Walmart commercial over-compensation moment is when they show a customer walking out to their front porch and picking up a box that must be about 24″ across. This commercial infers that the only thing in the box is a pacifier or perhaps a sippy cup, to which the response would be, “why is the box so big”.

Pack your materials in a reasonably sized box so as to not require your customer to deal with a situation they weren’t planning on. It is possible that the actual product when shipped would do this, but that box is extraordinarily big in the commercial, and I’m not sure it would even fit in my recycling bin without some serious cutting and squishing.

Demo with the Actual Product

Anytime my team needs to demo our software, we use the actual software in whatever state it currently is in. Sometimes this means a flawless presentation where everyone is very excited and blown away. Other times this means very little functionality because we worked on most things in the back-end. And occasionally there are errors that are thrown in the UI during presentation that make me wonder why we even decided to show this off in the first place.

Back in the day, we used to show off mocks and screenshots instead of actual product. This way we could control all of those elements and have a presentation that we were excited about. But after listening to a seminar about the value of presenting actual product, we have almost never turned back.

In this commercial, they appear to be using a Walmart app to order their product. However there are a couple moments where I felt they were just using good timing.

If you watch as closely as I did, you will see a moment where the mom goes to order something, but the cart button has already been selected.

Walmart 1

The mom “taps” the screen, and that’s it. In the other scenarios when she taps, the cart turns to a plus/minus, but this time nothing happens. At this moment I am believing she is using a video with good timing.

OK, So…

Fine, it’s a commercial and this moment is extremely brief, and I evaluated way too much out of a silly 30 second Walmart Delivery ad. But my takeaway is this:

Don’t be scared to show off actual product in your demos, and don’t over compensate for something when you’re designing. Sometimes we can get carried away with all the gizmos and gadgets, and forget that we are going to add more work to the customer outside of the offering. If you’re giving your customer new functionality, be sure that it doesn’t add more time in another area of their life.

Also, it doesn’t always have to be about software. I am a QA tester inside and out, so evaluation of everything is what I do…

It’s the life of a tester!

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