Some tips on creating useful serial numbers (yes, it matters). It's easy to program your series and design your products to avoid these problems. That leads to happier customers who feel smarter:
- Don't use 0 or 1 or O or I in serial numbers that combine letters and numbers. 0O1I42 is asking for trouble.
- Never run a string of more than three identical numbers in a row. 89355555232 is bound to be a problem.
- Don't be case sensitive.
- Print the serial number larger than you think you need to. If you want the user to be able to read it to you, make it big. Then increase the size.
- Think hard about whether you need a serial number at all. An email address is easier to remember and just as unique.
- The number itself can carry useful data, like date of manufacture. If you're selling to business users, figure out how to integrate the serial numbers with their systems so they can coordinate with PO and other data.
- [David suggests you break up your long numbers with dashes. 108-23-2219.]
- With computers doing the heavy lifting, you can use serial words instead of serial numbers. If you have a combination of two words in a row, 100 words times 100 words is 10,000 combinations.
- Related: when doing Captchas, consider using combinations of words instead of random letters. CowNerd is just as hard for a computer to crack, but more fun (and easier) for your users.
- Why not make your serial number database public? Think about how many cool easter eggs you could bury online for people to look up on their product? (For example, a photo of the team putting my product into the box). I could upload my picture to go with it, or you could offer a prize to the first group of five consecutive product owners who found each other. Just a thought about organizing your followers...
The goal is to make it easy, make it fun and encourage people to become obsessed.