All entries for Monday 05 November 2007

November 05, 2007

Cathy Sierra: Creating Passionate Users

Creating Passionate Users – Cathy Sierra

  • Advertisers – best people to learn how to get rapid engagement from
  • Where there’s a passion, there’s a user seriously kicking ass. No-one is passionate about something they suck at
  • People who have a passion about/ are good at things get a richer experience from the activity than others
  • Once over the suck threshold, users are self-sustaining. Our job is to get users up the curve as fast as possible.
  • No-one wants to be an expert at spreadsheets. They want to be experts at loss adjusting, or cost prediction,, or whatever it is they want to do with the tool .
  • Can create passion by proxy – for example Red Bull have a Music Academy where they train dance musicians. Mis-attribution of Arousal creates a mental link between the product (Redbull) and the passion (Music) even though one shouldn’t exist.
  • The Most Important question: What can I help my users Kick Ass at ?
  • Understand the difference between how the brain works and how the mind works. Your brain’s job is to keep you alive, to filter out crap, and forward the tricky stuff on to the mind to make sense of your mind is trying to rationalize the data that the brain is pushing at it. Getting emotional buy-in stops the brain from filtering out stuff and allow the mind to engage.
  • How to beat the brain’s crap-filter…
    – Differentness, scary-ness, cute-ness, humor/joy, faces, keep engagement by providing micro-wake-ups every couple of hours. Faces get a double bonus because not only is any face image engaging, but you can use the emotion on the face to add weight.
    -Un-resolved questions in images are very good.
    – Conversational tone always beats formal.
  • Ways to get over the suck threshold:
    – compelling picture of what it will be like when you dont suck (why does anyone go snowboarding the second time?)
    – clear path to not sucking
    – easy first step
    – To get the compelling picture; you’ve got to know what it is that users want to do
  • Ask the questions: What does expertise look like?
  • Ask “Why ? Who Cares? So What?” Dont’ assume that because people can make the leap intellectually between what the product does, and what it means to them, they will do so. It’s your job to make that link for them.

– If you want then to RTFM, make a better FM
– You can never spend too much resource on user learning – manuals, tutorials, drop-ins, helpdesks, whatever. Out-teach the competition. Think learners, not users.
– A huge amount of brain chemistry is devoted to making you not remember stuff (otherwise your brain would fill up)
– Make people make choices – choosing between two things makes you remember both of them.
– Or use pictures. The pictures don’t even need to be very relevant.
– Lead people down the garden path; let them fall into pitfalls; this is more memorable than just being told what the pitfalls are.
– Look for “Oh Crap” or “Oh Cool” moments in each segment.
– Just in time learning vs. just in case.

  • Engagement
    – get users into the flow state
    – if something is too easy, you won’t get flow. But; that challenge should not be in using the interface!
    – understand the difference between funny and fun. Chess is not funny, but it’s still engaging.
  • What breaks the flow state?
    – Flow is a kind of fantasy; don’t bring people back to reality.
    – Make the right thing to do easy; make the wrong thing difficult.
    – what could your users do in flow? Is there a continuing challenge? Can you help them meet that challenge?
  • Game developers are better at this than anyone else in the software industry
    – UX spiral: Motivating benefit->Interaction->Payoff->Motivating benefit
    – Level/Reward pacing – exponential increase in gap sizes
    – If you can’t add features over time, add feedback. “Levels” equate to things that the user has learned to do, not things that you’re allowing them to access. “What are your super powers?”
    – Rewards should be frequent and small, not the opposite.
    – Hero’s jouney: Life is Normal->Something changes that->Things really suck->Hero overcomes things->Life returns to a new normal. Tech support are the helpful sidekicks and mentors in this journey. They should not be the Orcs :-). Key thing about the hero’s journey is that the hero changes as part of the journey.
  • What aspect of your product could be a part of a user’s identity or meaning?
  • T-shirt first development. Build the tribe. Create ways for your users to demonstrate that they belong to the tribe (c.f. thinkgeek’s pictures of people wearing their t-shirts)
  • Insider info is social currency.
  • Think about the stories that you can tell about people using your product to acheive something of value to themselves. We should do this
  • Building communities.
    – No dumb questions, and no dumb answers. Convert askers into answerers. Teach users how to create good content.
  • The kool-aid point; when people start to criticise what you’re doing as being cult-ish or over-hyped, you’ve acheived a certain measure of success.
  • Think about the disconnect between what we think, and what our users think of our product.
  • Users often ask for something different to what they want. Understand why users express the requirements that they do. When choosing between features, users give different responses if you ask them to explain their choices, and the responses are typically worse.
  • Marketing vs. user learning: Out-learn vs. out-teach.
  • It doesn’t matter what they think about you. It’s not about you, and it’s not about what you do. All that matters is how they feel about themselves, as a result of their interaction with your product. The user must have an “I rule” experience.

Cal Henderson: Scalable web architectures

  • Sessions: Bad. In order of badness: local sessions->mobile local sessions->remote sessions->no sessions at all.
  • No sessions at all: put all session data into a cookie; sign the cookie and timestamp it. 1K of data in a cookie is OK. (Make sure you’re not submitting it for static requests!)
  • Remote sessions; using the same database that you use for everything else means one less bit of infrastructure to maintain.
  • Functionality that won’t scale horizontally generally boils down to storage that won’t scale horizontally
  • Loadbalancers: software is hard to push more that 1GB/s (which would be a nice problem to have, for us!).
  • Wackamole – HA / Loadbalancing helper service – works by switching IP addresses.
  • Use queueing to manage long-running, CPU-intensive tasks

Can haz slidez?

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