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Category Archives: Insights

Dear User Experience, We Miss You.

Some companies decide to reduce their price when they start to lose market share. They figure people will switch back if they are cheaper. People don’t really switch for cheaper. They switch for better.

If you want to keep your market share, deliver a user experience that people will truly miss if it disappears. Make it something worth talking about or something worth missing.

Flexible Enough to Change Your Mind

Remember back in high school? (For some of us it has been a while) Do you remember liking a song or a group and proclaiming they were THE best group of all time… only to find a new favorite in a month?

If we aren’t careful, we start to lose that ability. The one that lets you realize perhaps you haven’t found the perfect thing or solution. The trait that allows for experimentation and recanting.

To put it another way, it is also admitting that “maybe I was wrong”. In the business world (beyond high school) we are much more hesitant to admit that. Much more hesitant to follow a path that might prove that we were “wrong”. This is often the source of many a company’s hesitation to perform usability testing. It might prove that a genius idea is no longer so… genius.

Still though – wouldn’t you rather know? Isn’t the improvement and gain worth the experiment?

The UX world calls it usability testing or user experience research. The rest of the world calls it “keeping it real”. At least we did, back in high school.

Profit, Results, and User Experience

All your KPIs and dashboards… all your profit, revenue, and other numbers… they are just measurements. You need them to paint a picture, but the story that built the numbers was already there.

Behind all the data you can obtain, there are user experiences creating those numbers.

It turns out that if you improve the user experience, all the numbers change – in a good way. And yes, you can measure it. Only afterwards though.

Making Things Better (by Exploring their Roots)

Many times we are called into a usability project to “make things better”. Usually this results in us going backwards towards the original intention or requirements for the thing or task, and then looking at what has changed. In other words, “make it better” means finding out

  • What was it like before?
  • What is it like now?
  • Is that good or bad?
  • What do we want to change?

Once we know these things, we can go about exploring user experience. It would be… unwise to start the research before knowing background and strategy. If we did, we may find some interesting or useful research, but it wouldn’t necessarily be as useful for intentionally matching the user experience to company goals.

It is kind of like driving. When you start driving you will probably see some interesting stuff, but it is usually more constructive to know where you are and where you want to go before starting the car.

Blantant Seth Godin reference

In case you didn’t know, I’m a fan of Seth Godin. He isn’t directly a UX advocate or guru, but the man says a lot of good stuff. This is one of his latest mini-blog posts. It is short, so I will rewrite it here:

Two ways to listen
You can listen to what people say, sure.

But you will be far more effective if you listen to what people do.

-Seth Godin

(well said Seth!)

Designer Bias – Its not your fault

In a previous article we talked about Designer Bias. It may have made designers sound like an arrogant lot. That may occasionally be true, but in all fairness, its not their fault. Its in our DNA. We are hardwired to rewrite history in our brains so that things generally seem rosier than they actually were.…Continue Reading