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.