Archive for the 'XDesign' Category

Should businesses care about user experience ?

Gotcha ! cashed out !!!

Should business (shareholders) care about this "experience" fad ?

They should if it provides growth (in revenues and profitability). It is important that experience stuff is understood by people beyond the marketing department. CEO should know it for sure.

Why care for user experience beyond the sales booth :

  • a. Users as Marketeers – viral marketing !! A happy user will tell good stories about (or around) your product to his friends / family.
  • b. Loyal Customer – Everyone who cares for loyality (because new customer acquisition is costly), should worry about user experience beyond the sales booth.
  • c. Cross sell – a happy customer will try more products from you.
  • d. Avoid activitists – ensure that customers don't become activists against your company.
  • e. Market research – involved user would tell you about market need. What people want. The chepeast and most effective market research / feedback.

Can one influence the experience without control over the context ?

General concept in experience economy is that a well defined /designed context can provide a greater experience. But there are many more levers in the hands of a designer/CEO/ marketing/ Engineering to influence the user experience.

Product as commandos :Think of your products as commandos who infilterate user environment. Commodos should survive and accomplish mission(spread the goodword) independantly in uncontrollable territory.

One can segment products /services as :

  • 1. Happily ever after – sell once, and buyer never comes back to you. (not to confuse with only-once-in-a-lifetime product).
  • 2. See you soon – comeback because of wear and tear or boredom or new improved version.
  • 3. Refill – comeback for refill
  • 4. @ your service – continuous contact, else no service.

Is there an experience if you are not in contact with customer. Yes, because your product (even in 1 category) is interacting with him/ her beyond your shop.

Usually type 4 (@ your service) kind of businesses use the experience stuff (Disney park, Starbucks …). But even category 1,2 businesses such as Harley Davidson, Apple.. are influencing user experience much beyond the sales desk. If context is the main lever, it is important that businesses create more interaction points / contexts for influencing user experience. Don't just have support department, everyone in the business has an interest in post sales interactions. itunes is a great place to interact with the users.

So how to reinvent products /services to use this theory ?

Think of relationships. Friends, family, spouse etc. That is understand the orbits of user experience.

What would you do to become a relation (friend or …or spouse) – Use same principles in product /service design. Check this for parameters for reaching deeper levels of human experience orbits.


Technology doesn’t know it is dealing with humans

Walgreens has been calling my home (through an automatic message)reminding me to collect my photos., which I had already collected 3 months back. “Oh ! maybe our system didn’t update it” excused the clerk, as if it is common occurance for her, when I went today to inform them of the harassing voice messages. She checked and confirmed that there were no photos pending on my name. Then she deleted the entry on computer.

If their computer system is smart enough to alert them of un-collected packages, why couldn’t they tally with their inventory and update it ?

Using technology, they did create a automatic voice message system, but ignored that it could sometimes behave erratically and irritate me – the customer.
Do not rely too much on technology, customer is a human being and can get pissed off with simple errors in that.

Second experience at Walgreens

I picked up a shake-it-torchlight for my kid, along with other things. This was stocked near the cashier counter and had no price label.

“tell me how much this torch costs” I said.

“I don’t know, have to check in the back shelves” he said ” maybe $5 or $6… would you buy”

He catalyzed my decision not to buy that. A positive answer would have encouraged me to buy that for my kid.

You don’t need technology for that. Big organizations rely on “human” / untrained humans, who fail to see the impact on customer experience.

Free is most abused word

Yesterday, I was offered a free chocolate box at RiteAID pharmacy.

Why ?

“I don’t know… my manager told me to… it’s free..” the clerk said.

I have no idea why they do that – not know why they give off a $7.25 box for free.

I did take the box suspicously. It neither made me thankful, nor grateful nor loyal to RiteAID.

In fact I grew suspicious of them.

Did “FREE-CHOCOLATE-BOX-SCHEME” designer imagine that it could have negative experential response?

Hugh Macleod offered to include my(anyone’s) blog-rss on his bloglines.

Did you also think the same as I thought,

“what’s the catch ?”

Sometimes we don’t trust experts – when they try to sell

Today I went for oil change @ Lube express.

The technician behaves like a doctor for my car. He tells me what I should do (meaning choose costlier service package). He warned me that if I don’t do as he says, my car might breakdown. I was scared. Sitting inside, while he pulled so many tubes and filled many more liquids, I was wondering is this a good experience ?

Have you ever understood what they to each other
” we got this guy..hmmm $$$ …let’s party…” something to that effect.

I feel that every time I go for oil change, I am advised of so many things that I end up paying a hefty $$. Couple of observations :

1. I am amazed at the complexity of cars (even in this technological age). Do you how many liquids are your car ?( Petrol, injection fluid, oil, wiper fluid …).

2. The technician knows everything about my car. He changes from being a doctor to a salesman.

3. I sit inside the car, while he does something in the bonnet and below the car.

4. After the session (once I paid big $$) I am always told that now I don’t have to worry for long-long time.

5. But then, I get my car looked after while I enjoy my radio.

6. They show me lot of dirty parts out of my car to prove their point.

Do I trust them ? Does it matter if I don’t ?

Wouldn’t it better if they gave me a one year schedule, with all the costs for each session. That way I would know cost of maintainance. Lube express knows how to train technicians to be salesmen, but still raise lots of suspicion in the way they do their job.

I would love them, if they tell me for a specified $$ per year, they will ensure smooth running of my car. Then I would go back to them :
a. eventhough many others want to do offer me similar service
b. without any discount coupons.

‘Remark-able’ is not enough, become a story character

Seth say’s it brilliantly : make products – “Remark”able ( “Purple Cow”, “Big M00”).

So that people will remark (include in their stories) and spread the good word. In other words, leverage users /viewers to expand your reach. Best products are ones which intrinsically help connect to others.

I agree but think “remark”able is not enough.

Why not ?

  1. I agree that users can be and should be leveraged (through their stories) to reach out to bigger audience.
  2. Stories are better than remarks.
  3. Remarks like comments are just passing. Stories are often told again and again. Moving stories involve the closest people to you (often yourself).
  4. You pass a remark on a stranger, while you introduce a friend, involve a family member, relate to a lover, and tell a autobiography.
  5. For more valueable introduction/involvement/ relation/ connection with the user and their world, one needs to do more than being remarkable.

Orbits of Experiences (how they can spread the word):

  1. Remarkable (Sensory) – “Wow!! did you see that… you must “
  2. Friendly (Interactive) – “Meet my best friend…”
  3. Family (emotional) – “our new family member …”
  4. Lover (relate) – “my partner… she understands me.”
  5. Self (connect) – “that changed me…a turning point in my life”

The above effects not just marketeers. A designer, maker/developer, marketeer, business owner, user, all need to realize that we humans value the world according to these kind of orbits of experiences.

it’s design not Technology

Interesting !!

Being a technology professional I have become very interested in Design. Especially design for better human experiences.

This post suggests that

It seems engineers and programmers are discovering the importance of user experience and understanding the “invisibility” of technology:

Destruction is always sexier

Which of these two images, attract your attention.

  • Quickly
  • Deeply
  • Longterm

This is the irony of our attention. Destruction is more sexier than construction. Maybe that is the reason why, TV Media shows so much more negative imagery.

Few comparisions :

  • Construction – is slow and messy, while destruction is flashy.
  • Destruction triggers our fight-or-flight response
  • Appreciation of construction needs healthy mind
  • Destruction wows everyone

The other attention grabbers are mystery, challenge, humor …

It is very tempting for designers to use this affinity of our mind to the spectacular (often destructive) images. But then.. it is always easy to inspire humans to go for war (or terror), while it is very difficult to motivate them to be creative and build something valueable. Ask US Prez, how difficult it would be to realize energy independence (versus energy dominance).

As a designer of experiences, it is very essential to recognise the power of imagery and the responsibility of using it.