User Experience

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I’ve worked on a number of brands at different stages of their lifecycle. And depending on the stage, they need a different type of web site organization. Marketing is about moving a consumer closer to a sale.

A fairly common definition of steps to a sale is covered by the acronym AIDA: awareness, interest, desire, action. For an unknown brand you don’t achieve awareness just by having someone on your website; they must know what the company does. Does the brand pass the Is-Does test?

Once there and aware how does one create interest? Typically with some context about a product’s usefulness or a unique function that captures the imagination. A website home page must pass the interest test, if none exists.

Third, if a brand has met the A and the I, we must tackle the D, desire. Often ads and websites load up on benefits to achieve desire. This can border on bragging and quite often diminishes the Interest factor. Be wary of shallow, common benefits. Also beware of pile on.

Action is where the money is. The best action is click to buy. Or go to store to buy. But some actions are brand positive and moving closer to a sale, say, like a prove comparison or a feature comparison. That’s action.  Feel something thane do something.

Knowing what stage you’re in and not covering tread upon ground is key.  Coke doesn’t need to work on awareness. Know where you are — and design your web home page experience accordingly and you are doing your visitors a service.  Otherwise you are bombarding them with the kitchen sink and ceding the experience to search and whim. Peace.

 

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Microsoft is a pretty amazing company. Its roots are in operating systems with its second version (Windows) transforming personal computing. Blah blah, I know. But the real invention was taking very complicated technology instructions and creating a user interface that enabled regular people to navigate it, using the open and closed window as a metaphor.

(Their new mobile operating system should be called Tiles, but that’s a story for another day.)

In the 90s, Microsoft only hired the smartest people on earth.  It gave Mensa style logic quizzes to all prospects, figuring if  you populated your company with Harvards, how could you lose. And it worked for a while.

But as the company evolved the Harvards — and please, I love Harvard, no offense meant — began to develop more and more products, the products became hugely over-built and complicated. Microsoft’s second most famous product “Word” has 88 features, or there about, with most people using only 12.  And that was okay because what you didn’t know didn’t hurt you.  But as the company moved into communications servers, SharePoint and other software ditties in the productivity world, usability became quite a chore. And a major impediment. If  it didn’t come with corporate training it wasn’t intuitive enough to pass the mass appeal test.

Microsoft’s new cloud product called Office 365 is quite robust and has the ability to change the business world.  It’s the best of all MSFT products for the enterprise. The kind of stuff small businesses only dream about. But it’s overly complicated. It needs a beginner slope. A beginner product for small business that, like crack, will create addiction.  If they crack the code on a usable version of Office 365, a big if, Microsoft may just double its revenue. Peace!

 

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I worked for two years at an amazing Web start-up.  The technology had a hink or two but was truly transformational. Imagine being able to go to a website and move the pictures, text and video around, simply by dragging them.  Not your website, someone else’s. Imagine right clicking on just about any object on the web copying and pasting it to your site.  Then, having the ability to move, resize and add text to it.

It’s what the Gods imagined before an earthling invented HTML; a drag and drop, copy and paste web publishing world.  That world was called Zude.com.

I was reading about the new HP webOS (via Rachel King at ZDNet) today and one tester of the cool interface on the Touchpad tablet found closing apps by dragging them to the top of the screen not intuitive.  (Close the window perhaps?) The person said he would not have figured it out on his own.

This brings up something very important in market these days, especially in the area of innovative web technology.  First User Experience.  For Zude, there were 3 unintuitive user behaviors that needed to be taught for first-timers to get the awesomeness:  Drag and Drop From Anywhere, Everything Moves, and When in Doubt Right Click.  Simple tutorials would have launched this product into the stratosphere.  The product was complicated and revolutionary. The promise was “the fastest easiest way to build a website.” The promise laid their like a lox without the proof.

When webOS launches, if it is as revolutionary as HP says, they need to not publish a 60-page manual. And they don’t need to offer 6 tabs of intuitive help.  HP should find the 3 most exciting, transfixing features and celebrate them. If they are big enough, we will find the rest. 3 and out. Peace.

PS.  By the way, Micorosoft Windows 7 or Mango, or whatever it is going to be called, should be named Tiles.

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