highly successful as a narrative for a brand. It made the rounds everywhere. It even got a lot of play at the ﬁnancial services company where I was working. People saw it and thought: I want to make my customers that happy! But recently I found myself wondering just how effective that video really is, when faced with the reality of the experience. So I made my own little movie. ...
to buy a drink from a coke machine; it doesn’t take my money, and then when it does I discover it is out of the drink I wanted (doesn’t let me know this until I put my money in); I try a new machine, also out of the drink. Finally get a different drink, then when I open it, because it dropped to the bottom of the machine, it spews froth everywhere and makes a mess.
here? It seems to me that an expectation was set -- a brand story was told about a product. The product is ﬁne ... but the way the product got delivered ... the whole experience ... cast a shadow on the product itself. Did the machinery meet its requirements, technically? Yeah! It took my money, it delivered a soft drink. Everything worked. But in some fundamental way, it missed the mark. It’s like I was promised a unicorn, but got dropped in a dirty stable. Technically there was a four- legged animal there, but it’s not the magical experience I was expecting.
machines. But in a way I am. Because software is machinery -- it’s just made of code rather than hardware. Just like hardware, it’s something we make that we then want to interact with us, help us, even take care of us. And we have many of the same problems with it. But unlike vending machines, which have been used by the general public for at least a couple of generations, software used to be much more rare.
The software was often geared around just one specialized task, and it was only one thing during a given day that someone would have to work with. Just imagine -- a time when so few people actually worked with software, and only did so for part of their jobs.
It didn’t take very long before the personal computer revolution came to the enterprise. Then we had to learn things like word processors and spreadsheet software. There would often be special training for these as well -- and we spent more time using these programs. But that was still about it -- a few people had computers at home, but would usually only spend limited time with them, again doing only a few tasks, like writing a letter or balancing a checkbook.
software. ORG SERVICE PRODUCT Not only that -- but now everything a company tries to do has to be wrapped up in software in some way, whether a web site (or web-based application) or a mobile app, or some other digital interactive layer.
can use ‣ and want to use ‣ without pay, and ‣ without training. This was/is the catalyst for UX. So just to be clear -- we went, in about 15 years, from being in a world where most people who used software did so only because they had to for their jobs, and were trained to do so, to being in a world where the stakes are much higher. Namely, our livelihoods and businesses depend on making a digital layer that anyone can use -- and ideally something they *want* to use -- even though we’re not paying them, and we’re not training them. >> This was the catalyst for user-experience design and the practices most associated with it.
This is Hawkeye A Meeting Between People Who are Part of an Organization ‣ Chief Surgeon ‣ Recently given charge of mess hall ‣ Has a favorite family recipe for french toast This is a scene from MASH, the TV show. We have Sal, who is the gruff cook for the unit. And we have Hawkeye, the idealist chief surgeon, who was recently given charge of the mess hall and has grand plans for making breakfast delightful for the troops -- a family recipe for french toast.
• Passionate about a vision of excellence. • A fish out of water. Hawkeye • Cooking for a war zone, not a restaurant. • Is already in middle of preparing the meal. • Doesn’t have time or resources to engage Hawkeye’s “best practices.” Sal I have to confess I was on Hawkeye’s side when I ﬁrst saw this. I mean, he’s obviously the protagonist here, and how can you not identify with his idealism? >> He just wants what’s best for the users of the mess tent; he’s excited, passionate about a vision of excellence; and he’s kind of a ﬁsh out of water -- an idealist doctor placed in a somewhat alien situation, trying to get these thick- headed people to understand how great things could be if only they would listen. But the more I thought about it, I had to start understanding things from Sal’s point of view. >> He’s cooking in a war zone, not a cafe -- the business model of this establishment is winning battles, not Michelin stars. He’s already in the middle of preparing the meal, for goodness’ sake ... how is he supposed to suddenly change his process to meet this guy’s demands? And even though Hawkeye might have some great ideas ... some wonderful innovations ... there’s no time or budget to make the happen. The problem here isn’t that Hawkeye isn’t dedicated or that Sal isn’t interested in making people happy -- it’s a bigger, systemic issue.
Focused on Delivery and meeting Requirements Who is designing the engagement? I have to confess I was on Hawkeye’s side when I ﬁrst saw this. I mean, he’s obviously the protagonist here, and how can you not identify with his idealism? >> He just wants what’s best for the users of the mess tent; he’s excited, passionate about a vision of excellence; and he’s kind of a ﬁsh out of water -- an idealist doctor placed in a somewhat alien situation, trying to get these thick- headed people to understand how great things could be if only they would listen. But the more I thought about it, I had to start understanding things from Sal’s point of view. >> He’s cooking in a war zone, not a cafe -- the business model of this establishment is winning battles, not Michelin stars. He’s already in the middle of preparing the meal, for goodness’ sake ... how is he supposed to suddenly change his process to meet this guy’s demands? And even though Hawkeye might have some great ideas ... some wonderful innovations ... there’s no time or budget to make the happen. The problem here isn’t that Hawkeye isn’t dedicated or that Sal isn’t interested in making people happy -- it’s a bigger, systemic issue.
UX Focus Seems to me we have to broaden our scope. Some of us have already been doing this for years, but it’s always felt peripheral, like something we’re doing on the sly. Why don’t we bake this in as an official part of what user experience design is about?
pretty speciﬁc concept -- it’s a deﬁned, named object that we aim for. In a goal-based sport, before everyone even gets on the ﬁeld, they know what the goal is. I contend that invoking the word “goal” comes with a lot of assumptions and baggage that can misdirect our work as designers.
that our users have explicitly, consciously articulated goals that they’re working toward. There’s been a progression of landmark works in the profession that organize design around user goals. Now, I’m not saying these and other works that talk about goals are bad, they’re really excellent resources. I bring them up to highlight the fact that the “goal” concept is central to a lot of high-proﬁle methods and education in our community.
that C.Do this http://www.flickr.com/photos/foenix http://www.flickr.com/photos/pearluvr It’s understandable that we would inherit this idea of user goals, given the origins of the computer-human interaction discipline. For a very long time, users worked in closed situations, where the whole system was constructed around pre-deﬁned goals, and users were trained in procedures -- not unlike following a recipe to bake a cake.
million IT presentations and conference rooms. It’s like the Holy Trinity of IT. And who could disagree that these three things are both important and interdependent? It’s like saying water is wet. But if you think about it, there’s a lot of stuff buried in those terms, especially that word “Process”
about mapping human behavior is the same way we go about mapping system behavior. Namely: a linear, highly rational, super-efficient process. I’ve seen a lot of “customer journey” maps treat people the same way -- lots of happy paths, with very little room for people’s complexities, messiness and irrationality.
way -- they don’t behave like machines. And now that we’re making software more often for more complex situations, for more people who aren’t being paid to use it, and who have other options to turn to, we have to come to grips with the fact that people need software that helps them in the messy complexity, rather than software that assumes your life is very tidy, linear and planned.
“Old Brain” “Mid-Brain” “New Brain” Amygdala In the last 20-30 years science has almost completely changed its mind about how our brains work and how we make decisions. And we now know that most of our actions are actually driven by the ancient parts of our evolved brain. We live in a frontal-lobe-driven illusion that we actually have deﬁned goals, when we rarely actually do.
Bates There’s been a lot of work both academic and in the popular press that has been teaching us these new lessons about human behavior. Here are just some of them. Paul Dourish has been re-thinking context for years; I just learned about the Lucy Suchman book yesterday and now wish I’d read it years ago, and of course there’s Ariely & Lehrer have been writing very accessible books about how we really decide and behave.
Cognitive THINKING cognitive assumptions, education, learning ability Emotional FEELING psychological state, anxiety, confidence, stress, desire A big part of user experience design is based on understanding the whole person for whom we’re creating a system. Rather than starting with “People, Process, Technology” all at once -- We start with People , their physical, cognitive and emotional characteristics, then we ﬁgure out how process and technology should meet their needs.
Task Task Need Need Need Situation Goal So if we really want to apply these lessons, we may want to re-think the focus on tasks and goals. In UX design we like to think we’re considering all the dimensions of the person, and often we really do ... but we still tend to focus on tasks and goals. >> More often than not, the goal is only a fuzzy, distant possibility in the future ... and what we now know is that even if you think you have a goal, it will likely shift and change as you ﬁnd your way to it. >> ... because right now the user is just trying to muddle their way through a situation that’s emerged in their life. When you get up to check the fridge, you rarely say to yourself “Self, I am hungry and therefore I need to eat” ... Your hunger may not even be a fully self-aware state just yet. >> at some point you may ﬁgure out that you have a particular need, and it may actually be one of many needs that spawn from the situation you’re in ... So, “I’m hungry” leads to “I NEED to eat something” ... and also, possibly “I NEED to get food because I don’t have any at home right now” ... or even “I NEED to ask the person next to me if they’re hungry too so I won’t be rude”. >> Only then does someone start to formulate the basic outlines of actual tasks to take care of those needs. And all of this happens in a sort of blur, before you have fully rationalized what you’re doing. So tell me ... How many requirements documents do you read that see the user this way? Or better yet, how many Agile user stories have you read that acknowledge the situational origin of the user’s activity? In waterfall or agile, or even in user testing, we normally jump straight to the task and small-bore functionality -- we break the tasks up into silos, assuming they’ll magically make sense together when we launch a product.
n Task Need Google Buzz Want some real-world proof of my point? When Google designed Buzz, they used an “eat your own dogfood” approach -- testing it with wider and wider circles of Google Employees. They designed lots of intricate tasks, but they were addressing the speciﬁc behaviors of people within Google -- not outside friends or family. >> When it was unleashed to the world, there was a huge clash ... the context was completely different, and the designed tasks had repercussions Google simply hadn’t foreseen ... because they were invisible to them. >> The result? Buzz was shuttered, and it earned Google 20 years of monitoring from the Federal Trade Commission. (ref: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10454683-265.html)
60% Software Engineers & Developers So much fun to create entity-relationship diagrams of everyone you know! Did Google learn its lesson about user context & behavior? Well Google Plus has some improvements in terms of privacy, but its early adopters leaned heavily toward software engineers who evidently ENJOY organizing everyone they know into an entity-relationship diagram. http://mashable.com/2011/07/14/google-plus-male/
What if we just can’t map everything out? Mapping stuff has always been big with user experience folks ... now we have service design and cross-channel customer journey maps and such. These are useful tools, but how well do they really scale for the world that’s coming at us so fast? And do the maps lock us into ways of thinking about the problem that keep us from seeing other possibilities?
love us. I think we want machines that will love us. We see faces in clouds, and we want to see them in our software. What if we’re trying too hard to make everything so human, we end up making stuff that will always disappoint us?
us... ...but just to fit us? What if what we really need is things that just FIT us? I suspect we’re going to eventually ﬁnd out that software works best when we think of it as an extension of ourselves for connecting with the world, and connecting with others in the world, rather than an automated version of us. I wonder what would happen if we framed more of our work that way? Would we have more success?