As Google releases the new Developer API info (the ‘Mirror’ API) for Glass we also get a new set of user interface guidelines to go with the dozens of others that can be collected from around the web.
Here’s Timothy Jordan speaking at SXSW recently about Glass and building new experiences for Glass, including it’s timelines, cards, bundles, subscriptions, OAuth, examples and other API info. Note how many times he reiterates about the need to design for glass.
Oh – and in case you’re in doubt, don’t forget you can’t go scuba diving with Glass.
I’ve been asked a few times recently, “So what exactly is user experience?”
It’s a good question, but there’s a problem with it. The word ‘exactly’. Trying to define user experience exactly is like trying to nail jelly to a wall.
I think they did a pretty good job, but a lot of people involved in user experience will be looking at it and thinking ‘Looks pretty, but where do I fit in here’. And that includes those with such titles and fields as Service Design, Content Strategy, UX Strategy and others.
The criticism won’t stop there. Others will complain that there’s no intersection between certain disciplines like HCI and Computer Science, or that the size of circle for their field is disproportionate in it’s importance or in relation to others, like Writing (content and micro-copy).
And that’s the problem – this infographic is not meant to define relationships between all these disciplines. It can’t, because there is no rigorous definition of the terms. Interaction design is not 37.34% user interface design according to some role-based equivalence of the SI standards. There’s so much that affects a person’s view of these disciplines, and it varies from person to person, project to project, org to org.
There is no way this chart could be fixed and keep everyone happy, and certainly not have it remaining accessible.
So this chart does not, and cannot answer the question ”So what exactly is user experience?”, especially as asked by someone already in the field.
No – what I like about this graphic is that it answers the question “So what is user experience”, as asked by someone seeking understanding and who does not already have an opinion, and in that context, I think this visualization is (almost) perfect.
Joe Welinske of Blink recently interviewed Luke Wroblewski, and as the ConveyUX website reports, Luke discusses the reaction to his book Mobile First. He offers suggestions for UX professionals on how to gain support for a mobile first design strategy.
You can hear the interview over at at ConveyUX, but I found the audio a bit of a struggle to deal with, so here’s my rough notes taken from that 15 minute interview. It’s not verbatim so apologies if I’m putting words in people’s mouths!
JW: It’s been a while since Mobile First came out. You’ve had time to see the impact, talk to people? How’s the philosophy of Mobile First going?
LW: As ever, different people (mis)interpret these things in different ways, and that’s definitely happened.
It’s amazing to see the applicability in areas I’d not previously considered.
Mobile’s growing like a weed, and it’s been nice to see the philosophy really get extended over the years.
People sometimes ask: Am I screwing the desktop version? I’ve been through enough of these exercises in the past and in fact this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Plus, what’s the difference between some of these desktop and tablet devices. Folding or removable touch screens – some are not that different. With Mobile First you’re doing something to help with a range of other touch devices – working towards tomorrow.
Another thing that comes up in the press now and then is that it’s really hard to create native apps and make it succeed – that it’s a blocker to going Mobile First.
Fred Wilson said – Just because something’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to do it. Websites are hard – anything new is hard.
JW: Mobile First and expanding upwards – looking at implementation, what challenges are there with say practical issues like scalability wrt tools etc?
LW: My methodology is that the mobile version is a foundation to build on, so when you push to the web you enhance and layer in as you get more screen real estate.
That becomes the front end technical solution if you like. I see so many responsive web designs now that are great on phone, tablet and desktop.
JW: The use case of people working with content in a mobile environment is very different to expectations of needs for desktop content – is responsive web design still relevant there? Does mobile first methodology work there?
LW: Assuming mobile use is this moving on-the-go use case is a non starter. 20% of use is on the couch, with TV on. 39% use mobile in bathroom (61% are lying!), so usage is anywhere and everywhere.
Assuming mobile device usage actually means mobile (moving) context, and saying you’re going to change the interface or content to do XYZ is a mind reading/losing proposition. I don’t know anyone who’s made that work intelligently.
I’m not seeing anyone going about cutting out important functionality just for mobile. On mobile, if users come from a Google search and then find the stuff they were expecting isn’t there then they’re going to be pretty pissed off.
Just because my screen is small doesn’t give anyone insight to my behaviours, desires and needs.
I do believe there are certain contexts where you have certain information, then it’s common to have location based services so their mobile use has risen – but it’s still valid on desktop. But you just perhaps make the content less prominent on desktop compared to mobile.
So the question of context comes up a lot. You can tune the prioritisation or hierarchy of information, but the presence of the content is still valuable in either case. You can totally manage that with a responsive web design.
JW: How would you suggest people go about putting forward the case that Mobile First should be embraced.
LW: The easiest thing is to go look at your logs.
I spoke to 2 big companies yesterday – one has 30% mobile traffic, the other has during the week 40%, and the weekend 50/50
Chances are that’s the environment you’re living in. Look round at everyone else. Facebook has more than 50% mobile use. PayPal, eBay – use other people’s data as a proxy. These are actual use cases.
I had occasion to need to export a years worth of statements to an Excel file to help with filing a self assessment tax form.
This is a typical task completed by many people during January as the deadline for self assessment forms looms up at the end of the month.
I dread this task, because year in, year out, Lloyds TSB provides me with one of the most frustrating experiences I have found online. Past experience has taught me what constraints are in place and what sort of experience to expect, but…
This year, I thought I’d document my experience as if I were a new user, and write it up as a case study, because sure enough, Lloyds TSB did not fail to disappoint me this year either.
This is the Export Statement popup dialog which appears over your account page.
It looks innocuous enough. But right off the bat, there’s a problem – I can only download 150 transactions at a time. Well I have no idea how long it takes me to do 150 transactions. One month? Two months? Three maybe? If I enter the year period I’m interested, and find that 150 transactions only covered the first 39 days, I have to come back and enter a new start date corresponding to when the first export got truncated. And I have to make it overlap a bit because otherwise I might miss a few transactions from the date of truncation. So then I know I’m going to have to piece together these exports and find the bits that overlap and remove duplicated entries.
I decide I don’t want to do it in batches of 150 transactions, I’ll do it in batches of a few months at a time and try to ensure I never reach the 150 transaction limit. That way I can just piece the parts together without worrying about overlaps.
To kick things off I enter some dates 1 March to 30 June 2011. But I’m told that I’m only allowed to enter dates which are no more than 3 months apart.
Well – it would be good to know that constraint when I’m being prompted for dates. (See later in this article for why I don’t get told at the time.) If I’d known I was restricted to 3 month periods I might not have bothered worrying about hitting the 150 transaction limit.
Then I try 1 March to 1 June. I hit the Export button. Nothing. Export again. Nothing. Actually what has happened is it’s given me the same error. When it says the dates are more than 3 months apart, it means the dates are not less than 3 months apart, inclusive of dates.
I correct the dates to be less than 3 months – 1 March to 31 May, as I realise that I’m going to have to work out the last date of the month for each end period. Thirty days hath April, June…how does it go?
I hit the Export button.
Oh dear! I get a timeout message meaningless to most users. It really wasn’t any significant time before I submitted the form. Not only that, it’s dumped me out of the popup dialog into the main window without giving me any navigation buttons to return to my account.
Unhelpfully it’s cleared the dates I entered, so I enter them again and give it another shot now that I’m in this main window. I press the Export button. Nothing happens, but a few seconds later, the download appears in the browser bar at the bottom. No success message though, and the SOAP error message is confusingly still there.
But, ok, this is progress – I got a download! I change the dates to 1 June and 31 August for the next (less than) 3 month period, and press the Export button. Nothing, but hey, I’m used to that now because I got no message and had to wait a few seconds for the download to appear last time.
I wait a few seconds. I wait a bit longer. Nothing. I click the Export button again. Nothing. The form is dead. Dead as a dodo shaped doornail.
So here’s where I need that button to get back to my account page, but there isn’t one remember. There is no relevant link on the page. Even the Lloyds TSB logo is not a home page link. I have to use the browser back button history to get back to my account, and start over again.
Now if things had gone smoothly, without the SOAP timeout error, what would have happened is that the popup dialog would have simply disappeared (this being the standard albeit insufficient success indicator) and a few seconds later the download would have appeared. The form, it seems, is not meant to be re-used – it’s just meant to disappear when you’re done. However, because the SOAP timeout error had dumped me into the main page, it couldn’t disappear after the first successful export, but it did effectively disable itself from working again. Probably behind the scenes, each instance of the form has a unique id that means it can’t be resubmitted, but it’s impossible for users to see or know this.
It’s worth noting here that what is meant to happen from Lloyds’ point of view is that for each period you want to download a statement, you need to enter the dates afresh in a new dialog. No chance of remembering the previous dates. No button to do the next 150 transactions or the next 3 months, or anything useful, just an assumption that Right, you’re done. If you want more, do it all again. No thought as to what users might want to do next. It’s enough to make a grown UX’er cry.
Moving on, I go back to the Statement Export popup dialog and get back to downloading a statement for my second period. This time it works. Occasionally. Sometimes I get the SOAP timeout error and are dumped into the main window again, and sometimes, there’s just a ‘technical problem’, but at least there’s a button to get back to my accounts though!
Gradually though, I get more and more bits of statement downloaded.
When I get to the end of 2011, I make a mistake by making the second date as 31 January 2011, instead of 2012. Fair enough. My bad!
I change the date to 2012, but the error doesn’t go away. I change the month to February to see if that makes it go away. Well it kind of does in that the big box error disappears, but the error at the top remains.
It had helpfully changed the date to 29th for me (only 29 days in Feb 2012). Now I want to change the date back to 31 January. I change the date from 29 to 31, and click the month field. Whoaa! Error under the drop down list – what’s that say?
I click away from the drop down list to see the message underneath.
Well the message there has clearly been brought about by having an invalid date for the month, but I’m right in the middle of sorting that out thank you very much! I’m obviously expected to change the month and then the date, even though at every point up to now I’ve entered date, then month.
When I tried a bit later, I had a quite similar situation with an invalid date/month combination, but this time the message was Please enter a value. What – I did! Tell me what’s actually wrong with it please?
In this case I changed the month to January. The message remained:
But actually the form is now valid and you can go and click the Export button and get the download (if there isn’t a technical problem!)
Now some of this is down to when the form checks the values – it does it on the focus-out of a field in the form, but it could save a whole lot of confusion by doing it more interactively. It’s also why I was not told of the 3 month date constraint before I clicked the Export button – the click of the button forces the focus-out which kicks off the error message. There’s also a broken link between the message at the top of the box and the highlighted fields, in that if the form is corrected, the message at the top should disappear too.
All in all, a pretty abysmal experience trying to export something that should have been able to be done in a single step in the first place.
I make no attempt to disguise the fact that this article is largely a rant. However, this was a real documented experience, and I don’t believe myself to be alone in receiving this kind of online banking service.
This is nothing short of a great example of bad UX.
My hope is that by documenting it here, others will learn how not to provide such a service online, and that possibly, just possibly, by the time I come round to doing this again next year, something might have been done about it.
In an ideal situation where banks are the domain experts of the financial world, shouldn’t it be possible to log in to your account after the end of a tax period and find a message:
“To export your account transactions for the last tax year, click here.”
Wouldn’t that be nice!
I’d love my bank again if they did that.
Late in 2009 Jesse James Garrett gave a talk at UX Week entitled The State of User Experience. He talks a bit about where user experience came from and a bit about where he thought it was heading. It was an inspiring talk – a must see, and surely a has seen, for anyone in the field of UX.
That was just three short years ago. I’ll be honest: at that time I wasn’t a UX practitioner. I don’t really know what I was. I did a lot of development. I designed interfaces. I did research into users’ roles and goals, and I tried to craft bespoke, engaging and appropriate interfaces for clients. I didn’t use the term user experience. I didn’t know it existed. Then I got made redundant.
It was at exactly the same time as that happened that I discovered the field of UX. To me, it was like falling in love. I didn’t have to learn exactly how to go about being a UX practitioner, but I did have to learn what UX was. It was immediately apparent, however, that UX was all about me. It was about all the things that I cared about and believed in, but hadn’t until that point had a name under which to call it. My resonance with UX (and vice versa) was nothing short of love at first sight.
Three short years. In that time I have embraced the field of UX. I’ve networked, I’ve read books, I’ve watched so many videos, I’ve been to conferences – and even spoken at conferences and events. And I’m more than a little active at UX Stack Exchange. But essentially, I carried on with what I was doing before – except now I run my own business doing it. Having this term User Experience seemed great – it seemed to encompass so many aspects of the work I did, that I could use it as this umbrella term for the services I wanted to provide.
So I tout myself as a user experience designer – it seems as all encompassing a term as I can possibly use for what I do and what I want to convey. And, I hope it means that my potential clients understand what I can do for their own users, because, let’s face it I do still have a business to run – and an income to generate for my family.
Three short years. In that time I have seen user experience become more and more sought after by companies, who realise that what they needed is someone to help them with their user experience. And I love them dearly for it because they are the ones who care about their customers. Many though, do not – not necessarily because they actively do not not care, (although there are some of those too) but because they have not yet realised they need to care.
I observe those in the UX field around me and they share one common trait. Like me, they feel that they were born to be doing what they do. This is a job they love. It doesn’t even feel like a job. It’s a projection of self. It’s a passion – a quest to improve the lives of those who use our products and services, driven by our very soul, that seeks to improve and perfect every tiny detail of engagement. As Jesse says in the talk above: The user experience mindset is an acquired condition for which there is no cure.
But I’ve seen a trend in a direction which is starting to bother me. There are those who are calling themselves user experience designers who were not born with, nor have acquired this soul-driven empathy for their users. Yes. I know! To these people it is just a job. A job. Period.
And that bothers me because it affects those experiences, that don’t get quite the love they should. It affects the users who don’t quite get the experience they should. It affects businesses who don’t quite get the service they’re paying for or the employees they should be hiring. And it hurts the field of user experience itself, that doesn’t quite keep the reputation it should.
I want the field of UX to stay this unstoppable force of goodness and empathy and care towards people. The thought has occurred to me that there’s a chance it may not.
And that hurts me – like having a partner being a victim of a hit and run driver. A partner that I’ve been married to for three short years, but known for so much longer.
Please don’t let user experience become a car crash. I love her too much.
Below are the slides from the talk I gave today on considerations for the mobile user experience at MobileEast but if you want to see the notes for each slide as well, then pop over and view it on SlideShare direct instead – or read the complete raw notes.
I was given to answer a question on UX Stack Exchange recently on what research methods one can use to create personas? This was my answer:
First, state your research goals…
Get the questions out of your head and onto paper and share them with others, get feedback. Start out getting all collaborative right off the bat. Plan the whole process and verify you actually have the time and funds available.
…and define how you will use personas
Ask first whether you actually need personas and if you think you do, then how you will use the personas. Ensure that personas don’t just become an artifact, because the value is so not in the artifact itself.
Contextual inquiry / user interviews
If you do have existing users, interview them, but don’t just take the path of least resistance and interview people you know or people in your building or friends and family. Interview people you don’t know and from different locations or environments that reflect real world use.
Try and interview at least a dozen people as you won’t be able to spot trends with fewer people – remember you’re not trying to find the ‘perfect user’, you’re trying to find a sense of commonality from different sources that you can project and overlay onto your persona. But as well as trends, you’re also interested in surprises. Personas are meant to gloss over the irrelevant human idiosyncrasies, but things that ‘make people human’ are desirable factoids for personas. Ask the why. Lots.
But on the other hand, if you’re not learning anything much new as you interview more people then you’re wasting time. It might be useful to plot ‘the total number of factoids’ as you interview each person so that you can see when you reach a plateau.
If you don’t have existing users, then you need to increase the number of other sources of information to account for this, but it’s worth looking at using one or two other sources in addition to user interviews anyway.
Liken this to Damien Newman’s squiggle of the design process where at the early stage of design, the more squiggly the squiggle (i.e. the more input/research), the straighter the ‘solution line’ that emerges.
In the case of no existing customers, you need to actively seek out people you would like to be your users. As well as going where the users are, go to locations where they might congregate. Don’t just talk to people, but make sure you observe them too. Watch them go about their business in their own environment. Empathise with them. Become them. Record their language. Do this because you want to empathise with your personas to make them work, so don’t be fooled into thinking that you can easily empathise with a persona ‘on paper’ if you haven’t done so in real life.
People are happier to talk in their own environment and comfort zone, so going to their location works for you in several ways. With permission, take pictures or video so you remember their environment and objects around them. You’re looking for a story around your persona – when you use your personas you’re going to ask questions like, ‘would Bob use this?’ ‘What would Bob the power user think of the way this looks’, ‘How would Bob find the experience of using this product’, and without being able to empathise with Bob, and without positioning Bob in this contextual storyline, it’s almost impossible to say what Bob might think.
Side note: The slides/audio on Avoiding Bullshit Personas covers the problem of how to refer to the people in the personas. They suggest using what they call ‘active naming’. So that’s referring to them by their behaviour – a verb that identifies them. I quite like that idea – and it fits in with the whole idea of empathising with the persona as well. If the ‘tag’ is also part of the description, then it removes one more level of cognitive indirection between the tag and the description. It’s a nice touch – and especially relevant if you have a few different personas on a project.
Review as you go
If possible, try to review your findings against what you originally put on paper for your research goals so that you have a sense of understanding whether you achieving what you set out to do, and can adapt if necessary.
Where you can’t get enough information from the above methods, or time or money is not available there’s a kind of quicker ‘Guerrilla user research‘ alternative using indirect information instead of first hand research. So this can include second hand research, informed hunches, outcomes of stakeholder interviews and brainstorming workshops based on domain knowledge and gut instincts about users and their motivations, made up but informed stories about what a day in the life of a user is like, before during and after using the product or service you will offer.
…but keep it real
Precisely because proto personas are ‘second hand’ research they need validating – or invalidating – against the real world if at all possible. The last thing you want to create is a bullshit persona that you can’t actually backup with real information so validation of proto personas is really critical.
If the information is real, the greater the chance of the persona being taken seriously. And when those who control the purse strings start pushing their ‘opinions‘ onto the project, you want to be able to point them at the persona and say, no ‘Bob the power user wouldn’t like that’ and be able to back that up with the research behind it. If the persona ends up with fake content, and you use the personas as your design focus, you’re whole direction is fundamentally flawed.
Don’t forget the competition
Don’t be afraid to go on the hunt for information about users of a competitor product – maybe visit physical locations or online places where these competitor users ‘hang out’. If competitors don’t exist or are information about them is difficult to locate, try and be a little inventive and think laterally about what else your users might typically do or places they go and where they might congregate.
Take the journey together
Above all, remember that creating personas should be a collaborative experience for everyone to be on board across multiple departments and at multiple levels in the company org chart. In the same way that customer journey mapping holds all it’s value in the collaborative act of mapping, so is it the case that the value of the persona is not in the artifact itself but in the act of its creation and subsequently in the life of the persona who you must ensure stays alive and well at all costs. Don’t farm out the persona creation completely to a third party unless they are going to come in and facilitate the research and persona development within your organisation, instead of without you.
By the time the personas actually materialize, all the stakeholders should already know them – intimately. [No - not that intimately, stop it!] Everyone will have been a part of the journey of persona research and know there’s no fluff, no bs, and that nobody just made this stuff up.
References / Resources
Tina Calabria An introduction to personas and how to create them
Jeff Gothelf Using Proto-Personas for Executive Alignment
UIE Jared Spool Five Factors for Successful Persona Projects
Jill Christ and Stephanie Carter Avoiding Bullshit Personas
Leah Buley’s UX methodologies described in her workshop UX team of one bootcamp at UXLondon 2012
I gotta share the delight of feta cheese with you…
[Edit: - STOOOPPP! Before you read any further I don't want to mislead anyone. I have to say the product mentioned in this article is not feta cheese - it is Mediterranean style semi-hard cow's milk cheese - so not the same thing at all, not even from the same animal - so there you go: where you see the word feta cheese - please mentally substitute with Mediterranean style semi-hard cow's milk cheese! Apologies for the interruption - read on!]
Whoooa! This is a website about user interface and user experience! This madman is talking about feta cheese!!
Stay with me – it’s on topic – honestly. And I’ll give you a bonus recipe.
User experience isn’t just about software and websites, and mobile apps – it’s there in everything that is designed to be used, whether it’s a car, an ATM, a chair or a button – whatever.
Thinking back to the Kano Model in a previous post, when you use a product or service, you can have some basic expectations which should be met, and you can have some excitement generators that elevate the experience beyond just being satisfying.
So it’s nice to find occasionally, some excitement generators where you’d least expect to find them. It carries the element of surprise which is key to engaging the user and keeping their attention as well as lingering longer in the memory when the moment has long gone.
And here’s a tub of feta cheese doing just that – to the point I just have to share.
Sometimes, when you buy feta cheese, it’s in a block and you have to cut open the slimy packaging and cut the cheese into cubes to go with your pasta or your salad. Then you have to store what’s left somehow. Well I tried out Aria Foods’ Apetina feta cheese in a new kind of container yesterday. It just looks like a normal tub, except inside is a strainer that lets you lift the strainer clear of the solution it’s stored in, tip out what you need and pop it back in without losing any of the solution in the process. Fan-flippin’-tastic! Well done Aria Foods. My wife and I marveled at the simplicity, usefulness and unexpected delightfulness of this idea.
And if you’re looking for a recipe to use it with. Cook some spaghetti (al dente), roast some good cherry tomatoes in olive oil until soft and oozing goodness (use half each of chilli infused and basil infused oils), mix with the spaghetti, add the diced feta cheese and serve. Top with grated Parmesan and enjoy with a glass of your favourite Chianti. One of my favourite dishes!
Thanks to organizers and other speakers, and to everyone who came to this evening’s UXLondon Redux event.
Below are my raw notes from my talk on Kano and the 90%, a brief talk on the recurring theme of customer experience which I found most inspiring at this years UXLondon event earlier this month. Big thanks to those who inspired me for this talk – Leisa Riechelt (@leisa), Jared Spool (@jmspool), and Leif Roy(@optimalNZ). Without their input, I would have had no output.
Below the notes is a prezi slideshow (which is only a slightly embellished version of my slides at the event).
UXLondon was an amazing event with lots of high quality speakers, loads of inspiration and there was probably hundreds of takeaways, but I’m going to cover just 3 that really inspired me the most.
The first big takeaway was that UX is growing up, not just as a field in its own right but in its relationship with related fields that have been around for longer.
One of the indicators of this was the recurring theme of Customer Experience (CX). Leisa Riechelt spoke about the relationship between UX and CX, and the importance of strategy for the business as a whole towards providing a great customer experience.
Obviously as a UX practitioner we use strategies and methodologies in our research, design, and provision of content, but if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, we’re really looking at having an overall business strategy, albeit one where the user is at the core not the highest paid person’s opinion (HIPPO).
This overall structure includes CX which has long had the user’s needs at heart but with a stronger connection to business level roles and goals rather than at the design and development level (or deliverables level) which is traditionally where UX comes in. So strategic UX looks at getting the UX profile raised within the organisation – being inclusive of everyone from the top down, and from an early stage.
Another speaker at UXLondon, Leif Roy, flew over from New Zealand to give a 15 minute talk on how his team at Optimal Usability approached the design of a new type of economy class seating for Air New Zealand. Now what they were doing was not just looking at the needs of the passengers during the flight – they were taking this step back and looking at the bigger picture – the whole customer experience. They were designing an experience, with anticipation, interaction, engagement, and subsequent memories. They were designing for the whole customer journey. In her talk Leisa Riechelt was advocating the use of user journey maps that let you view and design for this whole customer experience. She also said: UX is not CX, UX needs CX.
The most inspiring point for me came when Jared Spool spoke about how four factors are coming together in UX at the same time in order to create this perfect storm that UX is in the middle of. Now he was talking about mobile and its market maturity was one of these four factors, but really what he was talking about is applicable to UX as a whole.
One of these four factors was the Kano Model, which isn’t exactly new – it was created by Noriaki Kano in the 80′s (1980′s). The Kano Model is a two dimensional graph – there’s an x-axis and a y-axis, and they cross in the middle. On the x-axis is the investment of the organisation. Investment can be time, effort, research, whatever. Essentially it boils down to cost but cost is a negative word so we’ll call it ‘willingness to invest’.
On the y-axis is the user or customer response to using the product or service that the organisation produces. It ranges from frustration at the bottom to delight at the top
In the middle, where the axes cross is this area we call satisfaction. It’s a neutral term.
There’s 3 main lines on this model. The simplest is a straight line from bottom left to top right, which is simply ‘performance’. The more willingness there is to invest, the better the response we get back from the user – you get back what you put in.
Then there’s two interesting curves here. The curve at bottom right describes the user’s basic expectations. Some basic expectations don’t take so much investment – lets face it, if you can’t even meet the most basic of expectations, you don’t have a product. But to meet all the basic expectations actually takes quite a bit of effort. The key element of this curve is that it never rises above the x-axis. Even if you meet all the basic expectations, you can’t do more than just ‘satisfy’ the user.
Now if we’re serious about providing a good user experience, then we want to do more than just satisfy the user – we want to ‘delight’ the user.
It turns out we don’t have to work too hard in order to come up with some nice features that get the user above the satisfied state. This other curve at top left rises from the satisfaction level up towards delight, as the organisation is more willing to invest. These are added value features – the elements that make your product or service unique, easy and pleasurable to use – the things that delight us. We’ll call those excitement generators.
There’s no use, by the way, of having these excitement generators without also meeting the basic expectations. The one is built on top of the other.
The interesting thing about the Kano model is that there is an invisible dimension. Over time, these excitement generators start to become taken for granted, in fact they move down to become basic expectations, and new excitement generators have to be brought in, so the playing field is always changing. But that’s ok because technology is always changing and when technology changes, people’s behaviour changes, and some of these basic expectations aren’t really needed any more so there’s this beautiful balancing act going on across the chart. It turns out the Kano model is really good at predicting the future of things we’re building.
So coming back to Leif Roy and Air New Zealand: their big excitement generator was this economy class seating such that could turn into lay flat surfaces that you could lie down on and sleep during long haul flights. Lay flat seats on economy class – whoever heard of that! Cattle class is the realm of prolonged and painful experiences. Hipmunk give their flight plans a rating – they call it an Agony Rating, and here’s Air New Zealand promoting this wonderful experience. It’s more than just about customer satisfaction; it’s about a great customer experience.
And as UX practitioners, it’s our role to be part of producing this customer experience. UX is not CX, but UX needs CX, but CX needs UX too. Multiple skills are required in order to work in this grown up field of UX, like copywriting, content strategy, information architecture, design process management, user research practices. And we need to understand the technologies involved; marketing, analytics, business knowledge, ROI, social networks, story-telling and lots more. This is all stuff that makes up a business and this is what lies behind building a great customer experience.
Jared Spool went on to mention Sturgeons Law, or as it’s more correctly named, Sturgeons Revelation. Theodore Sturgeon was at a science fiction event when the question was asked ‘Why is 90% of science fiction crap?’ Sturgeon thought about this and posited that science fiction wasn’t special and that actually 90% of everything is crap.
Thinking about it, that’s pretty much right on the money. 90% of everything IS crap. If you look at our Kano model, many products and services fail to meet all the basic expectations and certainly do little to delight us. And the people behind them probably aren’t willing to invest.
The result is that this 90% of everything that is crap falls into this bottom left quadrant.
But we have a choice when designing and creating our user experience. We can choose to be in this 90% of crap, or we can choose to be in this 10% that is good – and perhaps even strive to be in the 1% that is brilliance.
We have a CHOICE – YOU have a choice.
Yep – strategy strategy – that was intentional! Let me explain:
I was reading CXPartners‘ blog article about Reading and responsive design. The article cites statistics which show that the degree to which content is consumed is related to the size of the screen on the device it is displayed.
It’s hard to determine how much of a particular screen’s content is consumed, so this research was based on the number of page views. There are many factors which affect the way content is consumed on portable devices, but this article got me thinking:
This problem of delivering content for muliple devices is such a relevant topic in today’s marketplace where desktop usage is slowing and tablet/mobile usage is exploding. The question of responsive text vs. truncated text came up at UX Stack Exchange recently, and I invited Karen McGrane to come and discuss the pros and cons of truncated content vs responsive content.
Truncated text is typically not a content strategy for several reasons. On both desktop and mobile, you have to engage the user in order get them to read more. But, on mobile you have to engage the user more quickly, and this can come at the cost of overviewing the content to a sufficient enough extent that user can identify *parts* of the content that are of interest.
This then requires a whole different strategy when designing for multiple devices in that the structure of the content needs to be analysed and organized not just in context of the rest of the content but in context of its whole journey from copywriter to reader. Combine this with the differing user behaviour constraints that mobile provides, and it becomes next to impossible to actually provide the *same* content for all devices because it’s much more complex than simply making the teaser/intro shorter. So we’re taking the topic of content strategy to this meta level – a kind of content-strategy strategy.
Karen McGrane writes in her answer to the question linked above, that truncation can be a strategy but only if you can be confident that the first sentence provides enough context and value to inform the user.
As Karen essentially goes on to say, the implication is that if truncation is not actually the correct strategy, then comes the question of whether the CMS can even support the provision of content for multiple devices; the different fields and metadata that are required and the delivery of ‘progressively enhanced’ text (vs. the download of all content to all devices).
Not only does the CMS need to support this alternative on-demand content delivery strategy, but the copywriters themselves need to understand the varied audience and devices on which their content may be served, so that they can specify how the content is to be shortened; chunked; selectively delivered; or in some case completely rewritten to remove the ‘fluff’. Thus the copywriter is distracted from the job they are meant (or want) to be doing.
The problem I see, however, is that it’s a process that is extremely hard to automate. Content analysis is too diverse, it’s in the realm of artificial intelligence. And if it is automated, it becomes too formulaic. It’s rare that one single person is responsible for the actual content structure – the ability to actually manage, correlate and organize the various aspects: content from different sources; content by different people; content about a multitude of topics; and content incorporating a variety of different media is beyond most organisations. It simply won’t happen in any but the smallest or most dedicated org where a content curator (or team of curators) can manage the process, in which case the additional obfuscation of an extra layer between content creator and content delivery is going to cause complications. It will become too expensive and prone to antagonism from copywriters who see their content effectively censored for different devices via a process in which they have little control.
I’d love to be proved wrong but I suspect the cost/benefit ratio will be so low that in nearly all cases we will simply continue to see truncated content (albeit with the core message up front) rather than curated content tailored for different devices.
The upside of all this though, is that as I started off mentioning, mobile is exploding, the ‘Mobile First’ approach is gathering support, and that gradually the question will perhaps not just become ‘how do we make desktop-targeted content suitable for mobile?’ but also ‘how do we ensure that mobile-targeted content is also suitable for desktop?’
I think there would be an interesting response from a proportion of users who once they realise that content for smartphones is different to the content on tablets or on desktop may feel that they have a dumbed down version. It would be important to always provide a mechanism to read the full article as might be delivered for the desktop reader. Once you start providing a great experience on mobile, users may actually prefer the ability to more easily browse content overviews and starting demanding that the same experience be available for desktop. This means it’s not just down to the CMS to be able to deliver a version of the content depending on a media query, but also different versions on demand and according to user preferences. Who knows, the strategy of introducing the provision of content targeted for mobile may end up being the only useful content delivery structure!
I’d love to hear from anyone who has more information on this topic.