But even if we can justify consuming our user’s cognitive resources while they’re using our product, what about our marketing? Can we honestly believe that our “content marketing” is a good use of their resources? “Yes, because it adds value.” we tell ourselves. But what does that even mean? Can we honestly say that “engaging with our brand” is a healthy, ethical use of their scarce, precious, limited cognitive resources? “Yes, because our content is useful.”
And that’s all awesome and fabulous and social and 3.0ish except for one, small, inconvenient fact: zero sum. What you consume here, you take from there. Not just their attention, not just their time, but their ability to be the person they are when they are at their best. When they have ample cognitive resources. When they can think, solve-problems, and exercise self-control. When they can create, make connections, and stay focused.
Could simply making better websites make the world a better place, one more-satisfied user at a time?
This is quite clever – a simple way of looking at user behaviour and the factors that influence it:
[Fogg’s] Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing.
Fogg’s Behaviour Model (FBM) is a work-in-progress study and discussion in human behaviour online. Dr. Fogg, the guy working on it, researches and experiments on how the computer medium can influence people’s thoughts and behaviours. Interesting, huh?
It’s the tiredness you feel after having to make many choices over a short period of time. I guess the anxiety of choice eventually wears you out, making you less able to assess risk vs reward, and more prone to making impulse decisions.
For the more psych-nerdy among us, this is part of a bigger phenomenon known as ego depletion – the idea that willpower is a finite resource that needs to be recharged.
UX is a fancy name put onto practical things by consultants so they can charge for them. In practice there are three main points.
First, there is the matter of knowing what is common to all people. How the brain works, how the eyes scan, how people tick, what makes a screen understandable and so on. Principles of clarity apply regardless of what the domain is. Tufte’s principles for example apply here.
Second, you need to know what is special about your users. It’s not their brains or perception – that’s the same in everybody. What makes your users different are their habits and the job they are trying to do. You need to understand their purpose for using your product, how they talk about it, their points of reference and so on. Technically this is called ‘domain knowledge’. It’s most useful to think about the jobs individual users are trying to do.
Lastly you need empathy, the ability to see these points from the user’s perspective. You have to see it through their eyes in order to make the right decisions. You can use friendship as an example. You usually know what your friends like or don’t like. So try to become friends with your users. If that’s too hard, make friends with someone else in the same role.
Every now and then, friends will hop onto a gamedev project and ask me to send them “that link you showed me before with the list of things”. Well, in case I lose all my bookmarks (this hard drive is clicking, I can hear it) and forget how to use my ever-changing, ever-bloating del.icio.us, here is the link with the things:
It’s a TechCrunch article from 2010 talking about the various mechanics used in game design. I like to look at it every so often because it reminds me of games that use those mechanics, arming me to daydream about games I loved, hated and would like to make one day.
Super useful. I can’t remember who sent it to me originally, probably @shadowmint.
Interesting article on “being human” as a UX designer.
I’ve encountered UX people who didn’t strike me as particularly good humans, consequently lowering my trust as a client in their ability to engineer experiences that would appeal to humans. If you’re not a nice person, can you really design what is essentially an avatar of what your audience should see as a nice person?
Orson Welles and Harlan Ellison were/are known for being huge a-holes to work with, but on the ‘customer facing’ side, they’ve produced some astounding works of art. Maybe there’s a base level of good UX that everyone is capable of – stock common sense principles you get in any textbook – and it only gets better from there depending on how well you think critically and apply those principles to the problem at hand.
Personally, I want to believe that being a decent human being translates to putting out decent work. Even if we can’t be so magnanimous and noble, maybe the effort that goes in can’t help but lend itself to empathic, thoughtful solutions. But that’s just my little dream.
Maybe you don’t need to be a cool guy to make cool stuff – but I’m sure it’s more fun to work with someone who can do both. 😉
[Dr. Matsumoto, Humintell’s director] defines emotions as immediate, automatic, and involuntary reactions to events that are important to us. Moods, on the other hand, are states of mind that may make us more predisposed to having a certain emotional response.
For example, being in an irritable mood may make a person more predisposed to becoming angry more easily.
Thinking back to last week’s post on voice and tone, I wonder how empathic design & writing can help us understand moods better for those situations where we wish toinfluence a user’s mood and emotions. When is it productive to use happy talk, and when should you get to the point? How could a brochure site turn a skeptic into a buyer?