May 2nd, 2013
This podcast is the recording of Jared’s keynote from UX Thursday Chicago.
The world of web application design is expanding at a rapid rate. We’re now expected to design great experiences across a huge variety of platforms, from small screens to large displays. The flood of iPad applications and successful online businesses are showing our executives that design matters.
Why is all this happening now? Where is it all going? UIE’s own Jared Spool will show you how four driving forces — market maturity, the emergence of experience, the Kano Model, and Sturgeon’s Law — are increasing the visibility and value of design in organizations everywhere. He’ll show you what the next generation of design teams will look like and how you’ll get there.
Jared Spool: A few years back, we started noticing a major shift in the world of user experience. Now, a lot of it had to do with mobile, because before, there were only a handful of phones that could bring up a website or do anything interesting, so mobile was not really part of anybody’s landscape. But the iPhone comes out, everything changes.
That shift was fundamental, and we tried to understand why all of a sudden we were getting questions and requests for things that we never got before in a major way. What we realized was that there was something happening, something that was just these sort of natural forces that were coming from all directions and pulling together.
What I thought I would start today with is setting out what these changes are and why all of a sudden we’re in the center of this storm that we didn’t realize we were in until we got there. To do that, I want to start by talking about this.
This is a bottle of Coke. What’s interesting about this bottle of Coke, for my purposes right now, is that red cap, because if you ever get a bottle of Coke with that red cap, underneath it is a 12-letter code that you can then use to go to mycokerewards.com. When you go there and you enter the 12-letter code, you get points.
When you accrue enough points from getting enough red caps, you can get all sorts of prizes, like luggage or video games or, if you want, more Coke. It’s a very cool loyalty program, and a lot of people take advantage of it.
When it first came out, this is the desktop view. If you happen to go on a phone, it would look like this. I don’t know if you can read this, but it says, “Sorry, you don’t have Flash,” and then proceeds to tell you that you need to download Flash to continue. If you’re on an iPhone, you can download Flash all you want, but you ain’t going to continue.
Now, the question I had at the time was, how likely is it that when you open that bottle of Coke, you’d be closer to your desktop system than to your phone? Chances are, most of the time, you’re going to be closer to the phone. This is a failure. This is a failure case.
Maybe Coke’s just not jiggy with the Internet world, so they don’t quite get this. What about other folks? What happens there? About the same time, if you went to Fox News’s weather site, you got a similar screen that said, “Alternate HTML content should be placed here.” I hope you brought some.
Jared: Then it goes on to tell you that you need to download the Flash player, which you can try and do, but it ain’t going to do nothing.
It isn’t just this sort of thing that happened. I was wandering through Washington DC and came upon this sign taped to a telephone pole. It says, “Mike Panetta, shadow representative.” I was very excited to see this because, while I always suspected that we had a shadow government in Washington DC, I didn’t realize they ran for office. Sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
What was really interesting was in the bottom it had a QR code. I’m like, “OK, let’s check out what the shadow government’s all about.” I click on the QR code to see what I would get, and interestingly enough, I get a website that’s not optimized for a phone. It just gives me a corner of it. The rest of the site is hidden — I guess, like a shadow government.
This, to me, seemed a bit odd. It’s not just here. I was in Lapeer County, Michigan. I don’t know why, but I was there, and I walked into the Lapeer County Bank and Trust Company, one of their branches, and there was this sign that said, “Let your fingers do the banking.” What stunned me was that apparently you can bring up their website on a 1990s Nokia phone.
It renders perfectly on that old phone. Of course I wanted to see what it looked like on my brand-new iPhone, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anything you can use on an iPhone. It’s got this desktop website with a big hole for where the Flash thing is supposed to go, and the rest of it is completely unreadable at normal phone sizes.
We were doing an event in one of the Marriotts, and we needed people to be able to connect into the Internet there. The way you’re supposed to do that is you bring up this screen that you barely can read, and you’re supposed to click on that little red thing up there, and then, when you click on that, you get another screen of stuff that you barely can read.
You don’t do anything with this first clump or that second clump, but it’s the third clump where you have to enter the conference code that was supplied to you to get access to the Internet on your phone.
None of these experiences are very good, particularly for people who are just trying out using the Web on their phone. I was trying to figure out, why is it that so many of these experiences were bad? What we came to realize was that this is a force that’s happening to us. It’s something known as Sturgeon’s law.
Now, for those of you who’ve never heard of Sturgeon’s law, Sturgeon’s law is named after a dude, Theodore Sturgeon. He’s a science-fiction author. He was at a conference on a panel, and there was a Q&A. In the Q&A, a reporter gets up, and he goes to the mike and he asks, “Dr. Sturgeon, why is it that so much science-fiction writing is crap? Why is 90 percent of science-fiction writing crap?”
Dr. Sturgeon thinks about this for a moment, and he replies, “90 percent of everything is crap.” This is what’s known as Sturgeon’s law — 90 percent of everything is crap. It turns out that that’s completely true. It’s measurable. You can go out and measure practically anything, and you will find that 90 percent of it is complete crap and only 10 percent of it is any good whatsoever.
Take, for example, this email that came from United one day. Now, this was their first forays into HTML email, so this is the first time that I got this beautifully formatted, gorgeous email from them. I was very excited, because they had this feature in the email that I’d never seen in any of their emails before. It was this thing that said, “My account.”
I could go check on my account. I wanted to do that, so I clicked on it, minutes after the email had come in, and I got this message. It says, “No, you did not make a mistake,” which I found completely reassuring, because almost every other time I deal with United, I always feel like I’ve made a mistake.
In this instance, I apparently did not. It says, “We’ve designed our website. Unfortunately, the URL you requested is no longer valid.” The email just came out! They expire their content really fast. That’s quite a content-management strategy. They really govern their management well, because this is quick.
Now, granted, this is from a company that thinks about things in a way that no one else does. For instance, they were the first airline to provide their airline status boards for both portrait and landscape people.
Jared: Just saying.
Let’s take a moment and go back to our friends at Coke, because it’s unfair that I showed this, because they, within a couple of years, updated from this to something that looked like this which is an improvement — you can actually see the site. But it’s still basically a desktop site in a tiny screen.
The problem is that if I want to enter that code, I have to enter it over here. It’s almost impossible to tell that it’s grayed-out — it’s actually not grayed-out, it’s shaded-of-red-out. In order to unshade-of-red it, I have to either log in here or register here.
Of course, you can’t read this on a normal screen. Of course, you can pinch-zoom, but you have to know where to pinch-zoom to be able to do this, and so it’s a very unfriendly experience.
Maybe the problem is that this is a soda company, not a technology company. If we looked at a company that was, let’s say, in the phone business, like Verizon Wireless, they wouldn’t make that mistake, would they? Oh, yes, they would. This is Verizon Wireless before they had the iPhone, so maybe it’s just they’re not used to iPhones, they’re just used to other things.
Yet, sure enough, AT&T’s iPhone page has the same problem. In fact, Apple’s iPhone page has the same problem.
If you have an iPhone, why would you need to go to the iPhone page? I don’t know. This is the issue. This whole idea of small things.
Let’s say you’ve decided to fly somewhere in Canada — Toronto, maybe. There’s a good conference next week. I’m going to Toronto. Let’s say you decided to fly there. You want to check in. You’re in the cab, you want to check in on your way to the airport. You go to Air Canada’s website, and you get a tiny little screen.
Then you have to go and click on this little button here, which then makes you choose between every country in the world as to where you’re flying from. Even though the phone knows which country it’s in right now, it still requires you to scroll through every one to get to the right one. Then you get this screen that is completely unusable on a phone to be able to check in.
I can go on, just keep showing you bad example after bad example, but there are good examples. Ironically, one of them comes from Boston.com. Boston.com, for us, has been the poster child of bad design since the 1990s. We wrote about it in our first book, “Website Usability — A Designer’s Guide.” It has all these classic usability issues for websites.
They really haven’t updated since they first launched in the ’90s, so it continues to have the same problems.
If you go to their phone, mobile thing, it’s actually awesome. It’s very readable. You can find the top stories. It’s not cluttered with a lot of ads. It’s a very good experience. It is possible to do this. “New York Times” actually followed suit after Boston.com did, and now there’s a handful of folks, like these guys, who have really great mobile experiences. 10 percent.
Now, here’s the thing about Sturgeon’s law. We’re the ones who get to decide which side of the equation we’re on. Do we want to be in the 90 percent group, or do we want to be in the 10 percent group? That’s a choice we get to make.
The deal is that it’s happening at the board-room level. All these executives now walk around with their iPads. They are quite excited to have this technology. They prance into meetings with their iPads and they bring up stuff, and then they bring up the company’s own stuff and they’re like, “How come this doesn’t work?” You can say, “Oh, it’s Sturgeon’s law. We picked the wrong side.”
That pressure to move to the other side, to move into the 10 percent, is now the big deal. That’s what people want. This idea that we want to be in that 10 percent, this is one of these forces that is causing UX to emerge as an important thing amongst the executive team, and it’s causing it to be a high priority.
It turns out that there’s something else. What we call that is market maturity. The way market maturity works is this. This is a Wang 2200 word processor, was first produced in 1977. It’s a device that stands yay tall, yay wide, yay deep, and all it can do is word-process. It costs $14,000 just to word-process.
Just out of curiosity, how many people here weren’t even born in 1977? That’s depressing.
Jared: I worked on this thing. It’s one thing to be the oldest guy in the room. It’s another thing to have projects that are older than half the people in the room. This is on my résumé’.
Jared: The thing about this device, it was completely unusable. There was no way to just walk up and use it. If you wanted to learn how to use it, you had to fly to Lowell, Massachusetts, to a building complex known as the Wang Towers. I can’t make these things up.
You would take a one-week class, the beginner class, and in the beginner class, using a training method known as “drill and practice.” You would repeatedly learn how to load a file, how to save a file, how to print a file, and how to change the ribbon. That was week one. The advanced class, week two, if you stayed for it, you would learn bold and italics.
Italics was tricky because you had to change the little print wheel on the printer to get the italics to work and then change it back when the word was done printing to the next word. Yeah, I worked on this thing.
That was the state of the art in 1977. People paid thousands of dollars to get these devices. Then they paid thousands of dollars for training, and then they paid 20 percent more salary to anybody who was trained, because after you spent all that money, you didn’t want them going to some other company to use this device.
You would actually give all these people who were previously just typists out of the typing pool, you would now make them word-processing specialists and you would give them a 20-percent raise just for taking those classes that you paid for.
Everybody was happy. The word-processing specialists were tickled pink, and the companies were happy because they were getting documents way faster than from the typing pool, and the Wang Corporation loved all this training revenue.
Everybody was really excited about this until cheaper versions came out. PCs allowed you to not spend $14,000 on a word processor, but $700 on a word processor. You could get something called WordPerfect. WordPerfect, at its peak, had 1,770 features, in its prime. It had so many features that in order to use this thing.
You had to have these little cardboard things that went on your keyboard and these little cardboard things that went around your monitor and these little cardboard things that went around your bathroom mirror.
Jared: All of these things were there to help you learn this. There were videos and courses and manuals and all of these different things. The entire purpose of all these things was to train you how to use all these 1,700 features.
Then, this little upstart up in the northwest of the country comes along with a little word processor that on the day it was released had 70 features. It was called Word for DOS. Word for DOS became Word for Windows. The folks at WordPerfect, they thought this would never be a threat — they only have 70 features. The deal was they had the right 70 features.
They had studied how people were using word processors. They figured that all of this training was silly, and they came up with something where, whatever you typed on the screen, that’s exactly how it would print. That changed everything.
What we have here are three stages of maturity. We start by the technology. People will pay big bucks for technology because it does something nothing else can do. Then you start to get competitors, and then it all becomes about features. Then you get so many features that no one can use it, and it becomes about experience. We see this pattern over and over and over again.
Now, it’s a cycle, which means, once you’ve kidnapped the market from experience, you have to do something to continue to get upgrades. What do you do? You add features.
Jared: There’s a pattern here, and it happens over and over. Let’s take cellphones. This was the original, Gordon Gecko, massive cellphone. They cost $2,000 and you had to shout into them. “I said..!” It was this massive thing.
Feature phones came next. They called them feature phones because they were all about features. It was all about which phone had the most features. Then this little upstart, who’d never been in the phone business before, came out with a phone that changed everything, because it offered a better experience — with less features.
When the iPhone first came out, you couldn’t do video, which was as common feature of all the feature phones. You couldn’t send pictures through text messages. It was missing major features that were being promoted and everybody thought you couldn’t have a phone without. Yet, a better experience trumps features. We see this over and over again.
This was AltaVista. A search engine is obviously based on features. So much so that the search box was really hard to find. It was all about this other stuff. Then a little upstart in the Valley comes out with just a single box — two, actually, which was “get on our email list.” I don’t know what happened to that.
Jared: They took that feature out. Now, they just have the single box.
If you go to accuweather.com, these are all the things…Actually, it’s not all the things. I couldn’t fit all the things on one screen. There are two more screens of this. They keep adding this stuff, because they have to give you a reason to come back, so they have to add something new and add something new and add something new. It’s all about the features of the website.
What do you really need from a weather site? Here’s a site called “Umbrella Today?” You type in the city and it says, “Yes.”
Jared: What else do you need, really? That’s it. This is all it does.
This is that Air Canada site. If we look closely, we see that it, too, has a tremendous number of features. It’s got all this stuff. The airline only goes to like seven cities. It’s all they have in Canada. There’s not that much to this airline, but it’s a big, rich thing.
When you bring it up on the phone, they’ve crammed it all in. It turns out there’s another way to do it. If you know the magic code, if you know to type in m.aircanada.com, you get a completely different experience — one that’s circa 2001, but you get a completely different experience.
This experience is far more usable, even though it’s dated, than this modern-looking Web page on the same device, but you have to know the magic code to be able to get access to that.
This one is crammed with features, but the other one has got lots of experience. Or this. If you try and go to San Francisco and get on the BART from the San Francisco Airport, and you just type “BART schedule” into it, this is what you get, this massive chart that was never designed for the phone. I’m not sure it was designed for anything, actually.
This is a completely unusable thing, unless you’re smart enough to type in the magic code, which is bart.gov/wireless. Then you get an absolutely usable experience for this.
You don’t have to have the magic codes. If you go to Amazon, you get something that looks like the Amazon website but not quite. If you were to hold them up side-by-side, desktop, mobile, they are distinctly different. If you’re on the mobile and you’re used to the desktop, you won’t really pay attention to those differences, because it does all the things you need it to do.
It’s got all those features, but it’s been pruned back to the ones you really need, the ones you’re most likely to want. It has just those features.
Now, you can actually go and do all the important stuff, such as search by an author and find a book and look at the summary of the reviews and actually go look at individual reviews. Again, each of these things are very different than the way they appear on the website, but they’re familiar enough that you have no trouble actually using them because they do exactly what the user expects to do.
This isn’t about consistency. It’s about expectation. Consistency is not important in design. Meeting expectations is very important in design. Meeting expectations doesn’t mean making it consistent. It means making it work the way I expect. I expect to be able to get to reviews, but I don’t care how consistent they are.
I don’t actually want the phone reviews on the phone to work exactly like the phone reviews on the desktop. I just want them to be as useful as the ones on the desktop, and that’s a different requirement.
Take bestbuy.com. Best Buy, if you go there, they have this feature to find the TV of your dreams. You can go in and put in a little information about the price range and what stores you might want to shop at, and then it has these really cool sliders that you can use with your fingers to talk about the price range and the type you want, and it goes and recommends a phone.
This is actually way easier to do on your phone than to do on their desktop site. They don’t have this functionality on their desktop site. It doesn’t work nearly as well. This is actually pretty cool, that you can do this on the phone in that regard.
This idea, that we go from technology to features to experience, that progression happens over and over. The deal is that whoever was the leader at that feature thing, most of the time, 90 percent of the time, they do not successfully make the transition to being the leader in the experience thing, because their code base is too big, because they’re too wedded to all those features, because they don’t believe competitors will catch up.
Yet, almost always, somebody new, who doesn’t have the ugly code base to deal with, who knows exactly what users need because they’re watching people actually use these things and get frustrated with it, they actually come out with something that’s a better experience, and they end up kidnapping the market.
That shift, from features to experience, is critical. That turns out to be our second force coming into the storm. We’re feeling it, because a lot of us are in the feature mode and their customers are moving to the experience part of the marketplace.
This doesn’t explain the whole thing. There’s something else coming in, and the words we have for that we call the distinction between activity and experience.
This is a map of Six Flags Magic Mountain. It’s a theme park in Southern California. It’s like almost every Six Flags park, in that they have 48 different attractions, they call them, rides, and a whole bunch of other things you can do there.
They have carefully laid out a checklist of everything you can do. You come in from the bottom, you head up in clockwise formation, and it’s all about having this experience where you get to do everything on the map. That’s what you’ve paid for, that’s what they want you to do. They want you to be able to almost check it off as you do the whole thing. They don’t want you to miss a second of it.
They want you to go stand in line and then get on one of their awesome rides and then throw up and then get back in another line and go on another awesome ride and then throw up. That’s the Six Flags experience, and everybody’s happy with that.
The map represents the way they think about that. Compare this map to Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom doesn’t have all the rides. In fact, it doesn’t have any of the rides. If you are familiar with the architectural elements of the rides, you might pick out things like Space Mountain.
But if you didn’t know what Space Mountain was — it’s not labeled — you wouldn’t know that’s a ride. The park sort of obscures that in the map, because that’s not how Disney thinks about it. Now, granted, Disney has great rides. This park has 78 fabulous, cool rides. It’s not that they’re lacking in this or they’re trying to hide that fact. They just think about it completely differently.
If you were to bring, let’s say, a six-year-old to Disney, there’s a very good chance that one of your days while you were there is going to start with an event known as the Character Breakfast. The Character Breakfast is an opportunity for your six-year-old to get up close and personal to a creepy guy in an animal costume, for which they then go about making breakfast together — what will be, in fact, the most expensive breakfast you will ever pay for.
The kid will love it, and you will love it — and I think the guy in the animal suit likes it, too.
Jared: It’s fabulous. That’s how your day starts, and then you wander into the park and you have an experience. You have an adventure that you just wander from one part to the next. They’re almost seamless, and every step of the way, it’s this wonderful adventure.
Finally, before you know it, the sun has gone down and everybody gathers and the fireworks start, for what is, in fact, the longest fireworks show you will ever sit through. You go to the fireworks and it goes, and it’s everywhere, and the sound is perfect, wherever you’re standing, because they have the sound perfectly wired through the park and the synchronization of the music to the fireworks is exact, and everything is just perfect.
At the end of this incredibly long fireworks show, you take your six-year-old, who is now completely exhausted, and you put them on your shoulder, and you bring them not back to your hotel room but to your resort, because they don’t have hotel rooms, they have resorts. You bring them back to the resort, and you open the door of your room, and you come to discover that while you were gone, someone has replaced your towels with origami animals.
Jared: That’s the adventure that your day is. If your kid left the toys in the room, the toys have all been arranged around the animals such that it looks like, while you were gone, they were all playing with each other, and then as soon as the humans walk in the room, they all collapse, just like in the movie.
That’s the adventure. They have housekeepers they have trained to make origami animals. Imagine the agency pitch for that. “We know how to make you a lot of money. You need to train all your housekeepers to make origami out of towels. By the way, because your average customer stay is 7 to 10 days, they have to know 10 different animals and keep track of which ones they’ve done in which room. Your housekeepers can handle that, right?” “Si.”
Jared: This is the problem.
Six Flags is all about activities — one ride after the other — but Disney is about experiences. Experiences are the gaps between the activities. They’re designing for all those things that happen between the activities.
That’s where the real competitive difference is now, because everybody has the same activities. If you’re in retail or you’re in finance or you’re in medicine or whatever you’re in, all your competitors are designing for the same activities. It’s those gaps between the activities — what happens between the prescription refills, what happens between the deposits and the withdrawals in your bank — those things are the interesting places to design right now.
Trying to get a cab when it’s amazingly wet out is horrific. What if you could just bring up an app and press a button and summon a cab? That’s what Uber did. They revolutionized the taxi business, creating a little app that lets you summon a car. You press the button, figures out who the closest driver is, sends a message to his app, which is slightly different than your app, that says, “Hey, I’ve got a rider for you. Do you want to take it?”
If he says no, goes to the next car. If he says yes, sends you back a message saying, “Hey, I’ve got you a driver, and he can be here in 10 minutes.” Then you get to watch him approach on the map while he’s coming. Then you get in the car, and that whole ritual that happens at the end? That’s completely redone.
Instead of having to figure out what the prices are and what the added prices are and put a tip on top of that, and figure out if the credit-card machine is working, and it’s probably not working, or the guy doesn’t want you to use it because they keep all the money so he’d rather get paid in cash because then he can keep half the money and not give it back.
You go through that whole ritual, and meanwhile it’s pouring rain out and you’re trying to get to where you want to go. It’s a really awkward thing. That’s all gone.
What we have now is a phone. You press a button that says, “Yes, pay.” By the way, you’re going to rate the driver, which is OK because he just rated you, which is how he’ll know whether he’ll pick you up next time. Oh yeah, tip’s included. It’s automatically charged to your pre-entered card, and the receipt’s put in your email, and you’re done. They’ve filled in the gaps.
Groupon. Anybody who participated in Groupon in the early days knew that one of the more annoying features of Groupon is you’d go to someplace that actually you had a Groupon for and you forgot the piece of paper. What’d they do? They make it so that, either from the mobile website or from the app, you can bring up your copy of your Groupon, and they can just scan the phone or enter the number directly from that, and you’re done.
No more carrying around little sheets of paper that have all your coupons on them. Again, thinking about the gaps in the experience.
This whole QR-code thing, this is part of that. I was walking through Melbourne, Australia. There’s a huge black wall on the side of the street, says, “Live here,” with this giant QR code. It was this big. I scanned it, and it was for this little website. Turns out, on the other side of the wall was a hole in the ground, and in the hole in the ground they were planting a building.
When the building grew up, they wanted people to be able to live in it. You could find out all about the building that they were hoping would grow on the other side of the wall. You could even fill out a nice, easy-to-fill-out form that isn’t complicated to get your answer to that question.
That works. The problem with QR codes is that they have way too many dependencies. This is a series of QR codes that’s buried deep in the subway tunnel in the Denver Airport, where there is no cell reception. Some advertiser — First Bank, I guess — paid a ton of money for ads that nobody can take advantage of, because you can’t look it up. People don’t quite understand that those gaps in the experience, you have to actually pay attention to.
This idea of being competitive in the experiences, that is now a key priority. That’s the third force that’s pushing us in this direction.
The last one we call the Kano model. The Kano model was created by a dude named Noriaki Kano. Behavioral economist in the ’60s actually put this thing together, but turns out it’s absolutely explanatory of what’s going on right now. He was trying to explain the relationship between customer satisfaction and the amount of investment that a company should make.
“If you invest more, do you get more satisfied customers?” That was basically the question he was trying to answer.
In his collection of data, he found that there were three trends that predicted this. To measure that, he put them on two scales. The first scale, of course, is user satisfaction, which goes from frustration at the very bottom to extreme delight at the very top. It’s how to think about satisfaction. The second scale has to do with the amount of investment, from almost nothing to a ton.
When he started to plot the data of this, he started to realize that there were three trends that kept showing up. One’s known as the performance payoff. The performance payoff is what happens when you just keep adding features and you keep investing. Over time, you make customers more and more and more satisfied. If you make a big enough investment, you get them very satisfied. We all understand this. We all understand how this works. This is what drives that feature stage of the maturity model.
There were two other curves that he discovered that turned out to be really important. One is basic expectations. Basic expectations says that however much you invest, you’ll never go above neutral satisfaction, because it’s something we basically expect. We have WiFi at this conference. Used to be, if you had WiFi at a conference, that would be an awesome thing. Everybody would be overjoyed. They’d be absolutely delighted about it.
Now, if you go to a lot of conferences, like I do, and someone has WiFi, it’s like, “Oh, great, they have WiFi.” If they don’t have good WiFi, I get frustrated. But if they have great WiFi, I can never get across neutral satisfaction.
Now, it’s interesting that the way we typically measure satisfaction is with something we call satisfaction surveys. They ask questions like, “Are you satisfied?” “Are you satisfied?” is this neutral line in the center of the scale. We’re asking, “Are you in the middle?” When they say yes, we consider it a win.
Then we wonder why people aren’t that excited, because satisfaction, being satisfied with a design, is like considering a meal edible. “Hey, how was your dinner last night?” “Oh, it was expensive, and boy, it was edible.”
Jared: That’s not good. We wouldn’t be happy with an edible meal. We shouldn’t be happy with a satisfied customer. We should only be happy with extremely delighted customers, which is what brings us to our third trend, which are called excitement generators. Excitement generators are things that delight people. Often, they don’t take much in the way of an investment.
Sometimes it’s just having clever copy or really nice aesthetic, and sometimes you have to invest a little more in some technology. It turns out that you can get these delighters.
There’s an app called Shazam. Hear some music, point the phone at the music, press the big button in the middle, and about 15 seconds later, it tells you what the song is. It’s a bloody miracle. I have no idea how the damn thing works. Listen to one of those commercials where you could care less about the product but the song is really catchy? Point the thing. You’ll learn what song they use in the commercial. It’s awesome.
You often have to get it away from other noises, so you have to get it as close to the speaker as you can if it’s a noisy place. Sometimes, like when you’re in a club or something, the only place to get really good sound is in the restroom. I’ll walk into the men’s room, there are all these people with their phones in the air, pointed at the restroom speaker. “Oh, you’re Shazaming. I’ll step away.”
It’s a really simple thing. It just listens for a second and, boom, it tells you what song it is. It’s really quite clever.
The other day I was landing on a flight at Dulles Airport. While the plane was taxiing, I turned my phone on and I tweeted, “Happy to be at IAD.” Immediately, I got a tweet response from a company called LimoRes that said, “Need a ride from IAD?” and it gave me a little offer code. I thought, “Oh, that’s pretty cool.”
I didn’t actually have a ride at the time, so I thought I’d check them out. Sure enough, they had a website. It was a little small, but I could find the phone number really fast, and that gave me the opportunity to call them. It turned out they had a pretty decent deal. That was delightful to me, and it didn’t take a lot on their part to write a little bot that just looks for people tweeting about landing at IAD and sending this out.
Google Docs. I don’t know if you use Google Docs, but one of the things that are amazing about Google Docs that makes it much better than the previous generation of office tools is the sharing capability. You can easily share documents. Turns out it’s a big deal, and it’s what people love.
When the iPhone capabilities first came out, the iPhone app, it had all the great features of Google Docs except for sharing. You couldn’t share from the phone. Now, how often would you need to? Let’s say you’re standing outside a meeting and it’s like, “Did you get the memo that we’re going to talk about?” “No, I didn’t.” “Oh, let me share that with you.” “Oh, I can’t. I have to go back to my office.”
That’s frustrating. The thing about that frustrating thing is that no matter what Google does, they can never make sharing delightful. It was delightful at first, but it’s not delightful anymore. Now we just expect to be able to share everything we have in Google Docs. All they can do is frustrate us.
It turns out that this is where a lot of folks get into trouble, because they focus on delighters and they don’t realize that if you don’t have the basic expectations met, you will frustrate. When I check into a hotel, I expect there, in my hotel room, to be a bathroom. In that bathroom, I expect it to have hot water in the shower and a toilet that flushes and a sink that I can shave at. I don’t ask for much, I don’t think.
Generations ago — it’s maybe two generations — my grandfather could not make that expectation coming to a hotel room. Most of the hotel rooms in the world in his time did not have bathrooms in the room with a hot shower and a working toilet and someplace they could shave. You had to go down to a community bathroom down the hall, if you were lucky, because sometimes you had to go outside. That distinction is new.
The thing is, if the toilet doesn’t work, I’m going to get pissed at the hotel, but if the toilet works perfectly, I will not be delighted with that hotel. I can never get above basic expectations. A lot of the problems we see is that we are constantly missing basic expectations because we’re not studying them. We’re not discovering that we’re missing them. We’re frustrating our customers, and we’re working on this delightful stuff.
Here we are. Time to register for our Coke rewards. I click on the little registration button, and I have to then say, “OK, it’s as easy as one, two, three. OK, that sounds good.” Then I go here and I have to put in my name and address and ZIP code and city, because apparently they need to know where I live to be able to give me my points.
Then I have to put in an email address and type it in a second time, in case I couldn’t get it right the first time, and then put in a password and then type it in a second time. Then I have to decide if I want to get their email news flashes, because, after all, I obviously want to get news flashes from Coca-Cola through email.
Do I want to get their mobile news flashes? Because, obviously, Coke is that important to me. I need to get that information right away. Then I have to prove I’m not a robot.
Jared: That’s all you have to do, and that’s much simpler. That’s much more delightful.
The thing is that over time that will become a basic expectation. We will expect that sign-in will be that easy, if not easier, and we won’t tolerate these incredibly long sign-in processes, because over time all delighters become basic expectations.
The bathroom inside the hotel room of yesteryear is a basic feature today. It’s a basic expectation, so much so that hotels do not mention on the website that every room comes with its own bathroom. If it didn’t mention that, and you showed up and it didn’t have it, you’d be pissed. They didn’t mention it. Why should they deliver on it? That notion of “we didn’t promise it” doesn’t work anymore. Basic expectations are there.
The Kano model basically tells us that we have to focus on basic expectations and delighters. We have to assume that over time all those delighters will become basic expectations — not just ours, but our competitors’. We have to constantly seek out new delighters in order to keep that going.
Those are the four elements of the storm. What they have done is they have caused the board room to be really sensitive to UX. They don’t know the words. They don’t know the language. They don’t understand, but they get the concepts, and they know that something has to change.
We’re seeing, in organization after organization after organization, and particularly because of mobile, that user experience has now bubbled up to this area. Because everybody has a supercomputer in their pocket now, except for those of you who are using it to take pictures of my screens, which you will get slides of. [laughs] Just saying.
This is what I came to talk to you about today. You need to decide which side of Sturgeon’s law you want to be in. Hopefully, you’ll decide to be in the 10 percent, but then you have to figure out what you need to do to be in the 10 percent, because the 90 percent of crap, that’s the easy path. Once you remove quality as a requirement, everything gets a lot simpler. 90 percent is easy. The 10 percent is hard.
That turns out to be key. You want to make sure that you’re focusing on experience over the technology-and-features part and start looking at it. Particularly, if you’re leading the game in features, you need to understand what’s going to happen next, because if you don’t, your competitors will.
You need to understand this difference between designing for activities and filling the gaps of the experience and how you’re going to start being competitive by filling those gaps. Finally, you need to understand about the Kano model and how it tells us that excitement generators are key and we need to focus on delighters.
That’s what I came to talk to you about today. Thank you.