The dollar menu and a 2% economy


 In two weeks, I will shift gears from a 2% economy here in the United States to a 7.8% economy, India. In a recent article in Time, columnist Rana Foroohar says the  next five years in America are tough. Foroohar adds that half of all Americans can’t find $2,000 in 30 days without selling their stuff. Sounds grim, right?

The truth is, yes. Unless the housing crisis gets fixed, job creation will be at a standstill and based on a report from McKinsey Global Institute, it will take five years for the U.S. to have a normal unemployment picture (5% from the current9.1%). There are a half billion middle class outside the United States that can do the jobs being done here. Brazil, India and China are churning out 70 million new middle class workers and consumers every year. A recent report from rating agency Crisil says India has 62,000 super-rich households with a combined wealth of $1 trillion. In five years, this is expected to grow to $5.3 trillion. This is more than double the $2 trillion sitting in the balance sheets of American companies now. Very few of them are investing locally. Instead, they prefer investing where they can find adequate talent and consumers.

The way out of this mess is not easy and Foroohar like others says education is the only way out. She says four-year liberal arts colleges are becoming more irrelevant to what the economy needs todayand there should be greater emphasis  on science and technology.

She also suggests that the U.S. needs to create a concrete industrial policy that can bring different sides together to solve this problem, something similar to what the Germans have.

Search and thou shalt find!


It was interesting listening to Vanessa Fox talk about search, the primary way to navigate the Web. Fox, an expert on this topic wants all of us to solve the searcher’s problem. This is not an easy task as we think differently, confuse ourselves online and sometimes get lost that we need to search ourselves!

We are all lazy, ogle the left side of the page and graphics attract us more than lumps of text. With this common data, why do we still design Web sites that don’t deliver? I think a lot of how we define search depends on the context. In short, we  try to have a semblance of objectivity in a totally subjective topic.

Fox urges us to find out what our audience is looking for and what attracts them to the site. She eloquently said that search is about simplicity and conciseness. Two things we forget amid screaming headlines and overpowering graphics. I personally think the absence of limited space on Web sites unleashes abundant creativity that at times gets confusing.

As we think of search, we may want to focus our efforts on finding out what I call the switch rate. How much times does the user use a particular search term and elect to use another if the earlier one fails. This world of search is mysterious and sometimes confusing but smart designers will think of the commonality that binds us as  human beings. So, let’s exploit our laziness using clever headlines, and keywords that get the maximum out of minimal effort, and keep searching.

Search and thou shalt find!