OK, I have to admit they are not strictly secret like so called Easter Eggs, features hidden in widely used software, which the programmers think are great fun but which some of us think are a waste of our computing resources.
One notorious example was the Flight Simulator built into Excel97. Microsoft apparently banned the practice in later years as part of its trustworthy and openness initiative but they are still quite common.
No, I am talking about very useful features, which many people do not seem to know and which do not appear to be widely publicised.
I have recently become involved in the growing field of biometrics standards and believe the various technologies should be of great interest to digital marketers.
However, when I searched the Econsultancy site, I found that biometrics was mainly seen as a tool for market and user research.
Given the explosion in digital fraud and the difficulty of combining secure access with easy access, I believe biometrics have a great part to play in creating an engaging user experience.
I know I am getting (only now?) a bit cynical in my old age but I can't believe that I am the only one who finds the proliferation of discussion forums a bit tedious.
Done properly, such forums are great ways for professionals to share experience and knowledge. The Econsultancy blog and comments help keep digital folk up to date and stimulated.
But some discussions (not on Econsultancy obviously) seem to me to be little more than opportunities for pointless posts.
Some companies spend a fortune coming up with enticing names for new products - and sometimes it goes disastrously wrong.
A memorable example is the Chevy Nova, which in Spanish roughly translates to the Chevy doesn't-go.
Even if the name doesn't mean something inappropriate, our research shows that gimmicky product names might not be as clever as their creators imagine.
As experts in digital marketing, I am sure you were all aware that Thursday 8 November was World Usability Day -a world wide event celebrating the importance of in usability in the digital world.
This year’s theme was financial services and few would argue that usability was anything other than vital in this market.
My colleagues at System Concepts contributed a video of interviews with potential customers and some key players in the mobile financial market in which the two mobile financial services providers interviewed were Vodafone and O2.
This set me thinking: Do we trust mobile companies to give us banking, more than we trust banks to give us mobile services?
I have just had a very bad experience with a well known budget airline (Ryanair) and I haven’t even left home yet.
It reinforced my view that I will only travel with that airline when I have no other practical choice.
So how come it is highly profitable?
There are some very simple techniques that digital marketers can use to check how accessible their communications are to people with disabilities, so I was rather surprised to receive this email from Amazon:
14 October 2011 is World Standards Day where the three major international standards bodies IEC, ISO and ITU celebrate the contribution that standards make to international commerce. The theme this year is ‘Creating Confidence Globally’ and it strikes me that this is particularly relevant to usability.
Most creators of digital products design their products to be usable: effective, efficient and satisfying. Although sometimes this is hard to believe, I do not think anyone deliberately ignores their users.
However, what some designers quite frequently fail to do is to apply current usability best practice or test out their products before launch. When real users find the products difficult or cumbersome to use or fail to get the desired results and stop using the product, this can come as a surprise to the unwary designer (and their bosses who see the costs of their investment rising and the benefits diminishing).
I firmly believe that observing real users doing real tasks is the 'gold standard' for usability testing, particularly when the designers observe it themselves and see the problems only real users can find.
However, sometimes full user testing falls outside the budget and the project manager will decide to use an expert usability assessment instead.
This works well for websites where an expert usability consultant can put themselves in the shoes of the user and work through typical tasks identifying critical usability issues.
But what if the system supports far more complex tasks, which users take years to learn?
In my Econsultancy blog in January 2010, I said that the newly announced iPad would succeed because of its usability. At that time, the technology press was undecided about whether the iPad would succeed and I was accused of being a ‘dribbling Mac fanboy’.