Monday, September 17, 2012

Designing for experience or for memories?

Today a colleague forwarded the following article for perusal:

The author tried to make the article read as incendiary as possible -- it seemed that he was trying to imply that User Experience Design was unnecessary (and check out the comments; lots of people read it that way, too!).

But in the end, all he's really saying is that we ought to remove the blinders and look beyond the experience itself, to the memory of that experience.
Attempting to instill fond memories will be possible only via UX design, but it will require a different kind of UX design, that is laser-focused on the memories we hope will stick.
Essentially, great experiences lead to great memories, which lead (hopefully) to a great Net Promoter score.

Therein lies the reason that it's so important to design not just to meet user's expectations (thereby creating no notable positive memories), but to design for that delightful or WOW! moment. And as one commenter aptly put it, "We need the user to complete the experience before having any memory of it."

The Peak End rule also applies here. (That's where we judge our past experiences on how we felt about them, which really boils down to our peak positive or negative emotions and the emotion we feel at the end of an experience, irregardless of the length of that experience.) I attended a talk by Colin Shaw at SXSW 2012, where he talked about that as well as 20 different emotions that drive & destroy value (where increased value leads to an increase in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention):

  • Destroying emotions
    • Irritation, feeling hurried, neglected, unhappy, stressed, frustrated, disappointed, unsatisfied
    • If your user experiences these, you're probably going to lose them
  • Attention cluster
    • Interesting, energetic, stimulated, exploratory, indulgent
    • These will lead to short-term spend
  • Recommendation cluster
    • Trusting, valued, focused, safe, cared for
    • As the name suggests, these will lead to users who will recommend your experience. (I'd say probably the 7-8 range in Net Promoter)
  • Advocacy cluster
    • Happy, pleased
    • This cluster, along with the recommendation cluster, will drive long-term engagement
UX practitioners spend a good chunk of time designing flows and how easily one can accomplish the task we want them to accomplish. We'll do usability testing to see when this breaks.

But how much time do we spend ensuring that they are experiencing the emotions we want them to experience? How can we accurately test our flows to map out what emotions are experienced when? And, is the self-reporting of emotions accurate? (We certainly know it isn't for perception of accomplishing a task!)

Update 3/28/13: I found a LinkedIn article that Colin Shaw wrote about this very topic (where I got my inspiration from):

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