As a frequent flyer, I know how easy it can be to get caught up in a loyalty program. You could blame it on the occasional first class upgrades, the free checked baggage, or the special elite hotline many airlines offer their most valued members . . . or you could chalk it up to a brilliant application of behavioral economics and psychology.
I got interested in genetic testing for fitness a while back, but haven’t pulled the trigger on anything yet (besides 23 and Me, a few years ago before they got their hands slapped by the FDA). There’s a part of me that imagines a dream future where a simple genetic test can unlock my ideal diet and exercise regimens and then I follow them and become a fitness model. Yeah, I know that’s not going to happen. In the meantime, I’ve explored a couple of free or low-cost options to see how close reality might be to the dream. Continue reading How Is a Good Insight Like a Patent?
Conversational tone can help make a digital experience more user-friendly and fun. A lot of designers and content developers choose to give their programs a personality and use plain everyday language to reinforce a sense of approachability. Sometimes this manifests as comments like “This won’t take too long,” “It’s fun–we promise,” or “Wasn’t that easy?” But if you’re going to adopt that self-congratulatory angle–patting yourself on the back for a simple and fun user experience–you better deliver. Here’s a recent case where Starbucks did not.
After I posted about seemingly obvious information not necessarily being obvious to the people we design for, someone reached out to me on Twitter to challenge my points. We went back and forth for a bit, disagreeing on whether to design for what he called “the lowest common denominator” of user, someone who is not knowledgeable or engaged. His concern (as I interpret it) was that in targeting that type of user, we reduce the utility of anything we build for the people who might be better equipped to use it. And so I found myself wondering, does making it easy mean designing for the lowest common denominator? Continue reading Does Making It Easy Mean Designing for the Lowest Common Denominator?
It’s easy to assume that some facts are self-evident when we create a product or experience. Even if logically we accept that nothing is obvious, it’s so easy to fall back on believing that some things are. Every now and then I encounter an example that shows me again how wrong that assumption can be. This time, it happened at brunch. Continue reading Case Study: Nothing Is Obvious
Supporting people’s sense of autonomy is a key principle for designing engaging experiences. Designers can sometimes nudge users into taking specific actions by painting those actions as being consistent with the user’s values or goals. For example, insurance advertisements often focus on how the product can protect loved ones if the buyer dies unexpectedly; this plays on a common deeply-held value of looking out for the family’s best interests. A lighter hearted but poorly executed version of this has lately been endemic on my travels through the web: Email sign-up light boxes that accuse the user of some undesirable quality if they don’t enter an email address.
Usually we associate playing video games with being sedentary, but that’s not the case here. Since Pokémon Go was released last week (and became an instant hit), a number of people have observed that players seem to be getting more exercise than usual while playing the game. The game uses geolocation to plant characters in real world locations, where players can detect and capture them with the phone. Being successful at the game requires physically navigating the world. Continue reading The Unintended Positive Consequences of Pokémon Go
Here’s a total click-bait headline: The UX Secret That Will Ruin Apps For You. Even though I rather like apps and don’t want them ruined for me, of course I clicked, only to find a UX “secret” that is a familiar friend.
Here it is: Chances are, your app isn’t really loading when it tells you it is. Those delays when your app is searching for flights, logging into your accounts, or creating your feedback are deliberately added by designers to fool users into thinking the process takes longer than it does. Continue reading Why Your App Isn’t Really Loading (It’s Psychology)
Not every product is right for every person. Or, sometimes, a product is right for someone but it isn’t the right time. In those cases, good design helps keep the door open for people to rediscover the product when the timing improves. That usually means making any goodbyes as painless as possible. Recently I got a vacation rental email from HomeAway (for reasons unknown, as I don’t believe I’ve ever rented through them). In general I try not to subscribe to many marketing lists unless it’s a product I buy very frequently, so I clicked to take my name off this one. I was brought to the screen below: Continue reading Avoid Confusing UX: Today’s Unsubscriber, Tomorrow’s Buyer
Last weekend, we decided to go for a hike at the nearby Blue Hills Reservation to celebrate the arrival of lovely spring weather. We arrived to find plenty of free parking, a visitor center with clean restrooms, and clearly displayed instructions for hiking trails with varying difficulty levels and lengths. It all seemed great, until we tried to follow the directions to the head of our chosen trail: Continue reading Designing from the User Standpoint (Literally)