Sep
06
2009
0

I Just Make It Look Easy

Easy-to-make iPhone

Easy-to-make iPhone

A company once told me someone had offered to build permanent disability calculators for their website in three months for $7,500.  One said six months and $20,000.  Recently, another suggested it would take them a year and $40,000.  My response is usually some variation on “You’ve got to take that deal.  You’re wasting your time talking to me.”

It’s no big secret that building a great product takes a lot of work.  The important thing to remember is that just because something is easy-to-use, that doesn’t mean its easy-to-make. [1]

Real iPhone

Difficult-to-make iPhone

Let’s take the iPhone for example.  Everyone will concede its an easy phone to use.  However, it was released more than two years ago on 6/29/2007. [2]  In that time the other players – BlackBerry, LG, Nokia, and Palm have all been trying to catch up.  If this easy-to-use phone were easy-to-build everyone would have their own version.

Look, there’s no special magic to building a website like this.  Really, anyone can do it.  All you have to do is learn the calculations inside-and-out, deconstruct the math involved in the various calculations, learn some client and server side programming languages, learn a content management system, make it all work together, keep current on changes in the law, start all over again each time the law changes, and earn the respect of the workers’ compensation community.  Once done, you’ll have your very own workers’ compensation calculator website!

To return to the lesson of the iPhone, building a touch screen phone that can play music and surf the web is totally doable.  Doing it right is another matter entirely.

  1. Visit the link for a PDF of a cut-and-fold iPhone.  Thanks Gizmodo! []
  2. Wikipedia link. []
Oct
23
2008
0

New Calculator Features!

Running Puppy

This puppy has nothing to do with this post whatsoever.

Last Friday I announced some “website tweaks.”  Since then a paid subscriber[1] reiterated a feature request.[2] As a paid subscriber, he is able to calculate an unlimited number of ratings so that they all show up on a single page.  Basically, he wanted to be able to see the dollar value for a particular permanent partial disability percentage at the same time as a rating.

This isn’t the first time I’ve wrestled with the problems in creating such a feature.  There are several problems with incorporating this feature into the calculator’s page.

  1. The rating calculator and the dollar value of permanent disability calculators cannot be open at the same time.
  2. The rating calculator does not require the date of injury, just the age of the injured worker.  Without the date of injury, the website cannot properly display the dollar value of a permanent partial disability percentage.
  3. When a paid subscriber has performed more than one rating calculation on a page, the website cannot decide which rating string to convert into the equivalent number of dollars.

This exact feature had been suggested by other users in the past.[3]  My original thinking was that trying to accommodate this feature request would involve too many unknown variables.  After giving the matter some more thought, here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Paid subscribers benefit from improved print formatting. Basically, I’ve created a special file that changes the way the calculator page looks when a paid subscriber is printing. [4]  Paid subscribers benefit from having the calculator page streamlined specifically for printing.
  • Paid subscribers can have more than one calculator open at a time. This one feature probably addresses 90% of this user’s concerns.  If you’re able to keep both calculators open at the same time, it should be easy to perform a rating and then turn the percentage into a dollar value.
  • Paid subscribers receive automatic calculations of dollar value of ratings. When a paid subscriber performs a rating calculation, the “Dollar Value of Permanent Disability” calculator automatically opens and the dollar value of the rating is automatically calculated.  The user will still have to adjust calculation to account for the year of the injury.  However, this is probably the most elegant solution to this issue.
  1. As opposed to a free subscriber []
  2. Thanks Marc! []
  3. And even some competitors!!! []
  4. The special file is actually just some CSS to optimize page for printing. []

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