Monthly Archives: April 2015

People Are Paying This Guy $500 to Get Drunk and Review Their Websites

designer drawing website development wireframe
“Your website should be so simple, a drunk person could use it. You can’t test that. I’ll do it for you,” is the promise of a popular, new website, aptly called TheUserIsDrunk.com.

It began simply enough. User experience (UX) designer and full stack developer Richard Littauer works sober during the day, as is expected of any professional, but at night, he still messes around with projects, sometimes over a beer, or two, or 12. Completely on a whim, he decided to try getting paid for his extracurricular activities, and created The User Is Drunk.

On the website, Littauer explains what he’ll do for clients, saying “I’ll get very drunk, and then review your website. I’ll send you a document outlining where I thought the website needed help, and a screencast of me going over the website.”

Upon first impression, the idea seems fun and silly at best, or a terrible waste of money at worst, but Littauer raises a very good point in his sales pitch. UX design — how a user actually uses a website or app — should be simple enough for someone whose mental faculties have been impaired to use. For example, part of what makes dating app Tinder so successful is its UX design that utilizes cards and swiping. All users have to do is swipe left if they don’t want to potentially date a person, or right if they do, a good UX design easy enough for someone to use after a few drinks.

After launching TheUserIsDrunk.com, Littauer promoted the site in only two places: Twitter and HackerNews, but that was enough to make the site go viral. Initially, he charged clients just $50 for a drunk UX review, but soon had to keep upping his prices. Now, he’s charging $500 per review.

“I’ve had overwhelming response. … I had to raise [the price] to the point where I wouldn’t get too many more clients, due to a backlog,” Littauer tells Tech.co in an interview. “Besides people signing up, I’ve also doubled my Twitter followers, had something like 200,000 unique hits on the site, and have had my inbox completely flooded with emails.”

The project does pose one serious problem, though. If he’s constantly getting drunk to review website, won’t it damage his body?

“I intend to drink responsibly. I have close friends checking in with me regularly to make sure this doesn’t become a problem,” he explains on his website. “I’ll do this once or twice a week, and limit the number of clients.”

Here’s Why Working (and Learning) From Home Are Becoming More Popular

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In this, the Digital Age, with the Internet of Things looming, it may not come as a surprise that telecommuting has become a more common and established model of working and learning.

Though people generally agree that nothing beats real, physical human interaction, and there was a bit of skepticism about the feasibility of people working from home, it’s clear now that the practice isn’t going anywhere.

When Marissa Mayer took her place at the helm of Yahoo! when it was floundering in 2013, one of the first things she did was require all employees to work in the office, to help improve communication. Now, a little more than two years later, the Huffington Post reports that the tech giant has relented somewhat, and that some Yahoo! employees don’t come into the office.

These days, working from home isn’t as isolating as it once was. Through the use of services like Skype, Google Hangouts, instant messaging systems, and email, working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no personal interaction. Additionally, not all workers who are allowed to work from home choose to do so.

In a recent survey, of the 65% of employees who were permitted to work remotely, only 27% of them chose to work remotely 100% of the time.

In an interview with Wired, co-founder of collaboration software company Basecamp Jason Fried said that the company’s 45 employees live in 30 different cities. They only get together in person once a year — they otherwise touch base spontaneously using video chats.

A study conducted by Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom found that in addition to the way that advancing technologies are conducive to employees working from home successfully, those who do are often more productive than their counterparts in the office.

Bloom studied workers in a Chinese company called Ctrip, and found that the remote workers worked almost an entire day more than those who were in the office. Additionally, the remote workers took fewer breaks and sick days. The company also saved about $1,900 on furniture and overhead per remote worker.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also getting in on the remote action — but they’re experimenting with online learning.

“On the one hand, we’ve been trying to say, ‘Are there ways we can use technology that don’t cause us to have to completely re-think and re-write how learning happens, how our faculty teach, how program participants interact collaboratively?’ So in that sense it is trying to mimic the in-person experience,” Peter Hirst, director of the executive education program at the MIT Sloan School of management, told the Harvard Business Review in an interview.

Though telecommuting may be no match for the “press of the flesh,” nor is it trying to emulate it, it’s clear the practice is here to stay — and could move beyond both the realms of working and learning.

Twenty Percent of Americans Exclusively Rely on Their Smartphones For Internet Service, Study Finds

woman uses a smartphone

A recent Pew Research Center study has found that 20% of Americans rely on a smartphone as their primary means of accessing the Internet, according to USA Today.

“Their phone is really their primary access point for all of the things we take for granted in the online space,” said Aaron Smith, one of the writers of the study.

An estimated 89% of American adults use the Internet, which has become a practical necessity for many tasks in society today. From submitting job applications to connecting with far-away relatives and doing homework, the Internet has dominated many activities that traditionally were performed in person, by mail, or over the phone — and this new reality puts millions of Americans at a disadvantage.

Search engines in particular have become some of the most widely used applications in the world. Nearly 93% of all sessions on the Internet start with a search engine inquiry.

For those Americans who are “smartphone reliant,” however, even going on Google can be a hassle. Because smartphones are relatively smaller (and slower) than tablets and computers, using them to write a long email, for example, can be difficult. What’s worse, the study reveals that half of smartphone-dependent users had to cancel their phone service at least once because they were unable to pay for it. Of those who have had to cancel their phone service, three out of 10 claim to “frequently” reach their data limit and five out of 10 claim to “occasionally” overreach, according to tech blog Silicon Beat.

The study also revealed that smartphone-dependent users are as a whole younger, poorer, and poorly educated. In addition, minority communities represent a disproportionate amount of the group.

In terms of economic status, the study found that lower-class Americans are more likely to be smartphone-dependent than the middle class. Thirteen percent of American households that earn learn less than $30,000 are smartphone-dependent. In contrast, only 1% of American households that earn $75,000 or more are smartphone-dependent.

The authors of the study are concerned that smartphone-dependent users as well as many other users that lack basic Internet services are in danger of missing out on important functions in work, home, government, and other areas of life.

“Even though [sic] this is their lifeline to services that all of us take for granted,” Smith said, “it isn’t always there when they need it.”