Mankind loves to put things in the hands of Fate. And why not? Fate is the ultimate nerd. It pretty much knows everything before it happens. And you can ask Fate for answers anytime, anywhere, provided you know how to ask it. I mean, you can't just say "Hey — Fate — how do I sell this old crappy vacuum?" You need to ask it in the right way.
I know what you're saying.... how the hell do you do that? Well, some people have had great luck with human sacrifice. Just take six or seven local virgins, climb to the top of your local ziggurat, and... What? You have a problem with that? Oh — I hear ya — ziggurat rental fees are through the roof these days. Hmmm. Well, a tried and true method of talking to fate is through a deck of cards. You can always try that. Just shuffle up a deck real good, and take out a random card. That's Fate's pick.
Of course... the answers don't always make sense. I mean you can't ask Fate "How do I get Cheryl Montague to like me?" and then pick this:
What the hell does that mean? Club her four times until she realizes how charming you are? I got news for you, girls hate being clubbed. Maybe if you had picked a diamond, that would work, but who can afford 10 diamonds on your allowance? What you need is a deck of cards that gives real answers. Answers that relate to humans. You need a deck of cards that knows how humans work.
As it happens, I actually have a "How Humans Work" set of cards. A clever gentleman by the name of Stephen Anderson put together a deck like that, and asked me to do some drawings for it. See, each card focuses on one particular aspect of humans. Like, how we want something more if it's scarce. Or how when something costs more, we think it's better quality. Or even how time seems shorter when we're having fun. So, imagine this again. We have this new deck of cards, and we ask it... "How do I get Cheryl Montague to like me?" And I pick a card that says...
Okay... well... people like to complete a set, huh? Well, as it happens Cheryl collects these crappy kitten figurines. I just go down to Things Remembered and buy her that one of a tabby licking some table butter. Then I'll give it to her, and ask her to the junior dance, and we can slow dance. Slowly. SCORE.
What's that you say? You don't care about Cheryl Montague or dance-hugging, or a love life in any way? You care about your work? Well... let's see if I can come up with a situation that applies to you. Hmm. Okay, you know that fancy chocolate company that wants you to design their site? And you're looking for a concept? Well... let's ask Fate to pick a card...
So, people get more involved when they've got some sort of achievement to show for it. Hmm. Well, what if you had a section where people can show what chocolates they've tried? Like each chocolate is a medal they've earned. Or maybe the chocolates themselves just get ranked by how many people have tried them. Like a popularity meter. That's a pretty good hook, right?
Okay, so then, new situation. You're building an interface with this big, long, boring form in it. And you're pretty sure no one will finish it because people hate big, long, boring shit. So you're wondering how to get around it. So, you ask Fate, and Fate says:
Well... maybe you sprinkle a couple interesting fields through the form. Like a "Which is better? Zebras or Water Buffalo?" radio button. Or maybe you just leave a little bit of text in all the spots where you think people will give up, and say clever things like "You have the perseverance of a modern-day Napoleon" Or "You have to admit... this is better than standing in the line at the DMV." Or hell, maybe you just have a little picture that builds like a puzzle the more and more of the form they fill out. That sounds pretty fun, actually. Especially if it's a compelling picture. Or a treasure map.
Of course, I could sit here all day and come up with hypothetical situations, but truth be told, I'm not here to solve all your problems or answer your questions. I'm a busy guy. I've got important meetings, and important places to be. Things Remembered isn't open 24 hours after all. So here's what I suggest. I suggest you get one of these decks for yourself. They're called "Mental Notes". And you can get them here. And next time you're stuck on a problem, maybe you can pull them out and let Fate do some of the heavy lifting.
Now, should I take the bus to the mall, or walk?
Good call, Fate. The bus stinks and is loud. I'd better walk.