5 User Experience (Customer Journey) lies, damn lies and absolute myths

1. Anyone can do user experience, nope!

I meet a lot of people claiming to do user experience, process and deliverables aside, they don’t have a usability background so they cannot do user experience.

User experience is a solution capability based upon usability principles and research findings not design aspirations

User experience is a solution capability (not all usability people can do user experience) based upon the experience of conducting usability testing and user research. Usability testing and user research provides the standards and experience of the user that is needed to understand their perspective, elicit the correct (there are wrong ones) requirements in workshops or testing and represent them in projects.

I met (in 2006) a UX expert, I’m always worried when I meet UX experts, because I am a UX expert. Anyway she was moving from Razorfish into the freelance world for the big bucks and working a large project for Honda cars through a digital agency. Unfortunately she did not know how to use any software apart from word, so I checked her out sure enough she was a PA at Razorfish not a UX architect as claimed.

This happens so often it’s shocking, my favourite one has to be the PHd student I met working as an accessibility consultant repackaging W3C guidelines as work for several agencies. What I love about this guy is he does public speaking and has even done UX London and people wonder why I’m not interested in these conferences!

There are loads more fakes some of them milking huge daily rates from major companies, as these companies don’t do any checking it’s their own fault, but it makes me quite sad that clients and employment agencies can’t tell the quality from the junk.

Not only is the user experience world full of fakes, I’d go as far to say that of the people I’ve met in the last 13 years involved in UX;

80% (8 in 10) of UX people are fakes and have no idea what they are doing

These fakes can certainly sell themselves and get work (now in some very senior positions) because the clients did not then and still don’t know what they should be getting out of a user experience professional.

2. User experience can be learned from reading books, nope!

Absolutely read books, but read lots of them, but don’t quote them like the Bible that’s a bit odd. But reading about someone else’s experience does not mean you have any or in fact really understand the context or scope of those experiences.

Do some testing and research, I’m seeing a great deal of roles advertised for UX researcher or UX workshopping this is a great concern as the priority of discovered requirements and their interrelation is almost impossible to communicate in written documents. This critical project information should always be available.

Separating UX research from the UX solution activity may make sense for IT activity but for User Experience Professionals it does not

I assume this was a bright idea of someone who doesn’t actually know anything about UX regardless of their job title.

3. User experience is an IT activity, nope!

User Experience is not an IT process, it starts in the business area before IT is involved

I know a lot of company IT departments have tried to subsume User Experience into their IT process; user experience is considerably less effective this way.

User Experience leads the projects speaking for the End User Stakeholders (customers) as the Business Stakeholders speak for the Business

User Experience fits better into Agile DevOps, Change Management, Operations or as separate Standards Authority within organizations.

4. User experience is a design activity, nope!

Not exactly no, it sets the project brief and requirements then latterly gets involved in research first before creating solution concepts, user testing concepts then defining the final solution.

If there is no research, user experience solutions are not possible

5. The cost of user experience is going down, nope!

Perhaps a better understanding is that the market is flooded with willing bodies, the quality goes down and so does the price because people find it difficult to sell invisible clothing (the kings new cloths) even to people who like the colour and the cut, so accept a reduced price.

So the value of the job title is going down.

User experience should provide major cost benefits and advancements to companies who wish to stand out from the crowd, provided they find people who know how to do UX correctly.

This is the same problem that Agile is going through, people have picked up the language and use one or two of the activities incorrectly but don’t exceed the current status quo because they don’t know how to.

Great Agile is fast and accurate, flexible and delivers usable software and change, just as Great User Experience should provide the experience that customers want and allow them to interact with the client, accurately and often.

Great User Experience delivers increased transactions, interactions and communications towards relationship building.

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#Dependant on #dumb #data and is making #bad #choices? #Douglas #Adams

Data, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence

Clients don’t understand their customers, they just think they do!

It’s not for the lack of trying or spending millions on developing and building huge data systems, the problems are many but can be traced back to one simple thing;

“Data only describes part of the what is happening and almost nothing of the why, let alone what should be done to change the situation”

Clients have been sold that data gives them the answers and that big data will close the loop for them to understand the upstream and downstream thinking of their customers, WRONG.

Douglas Adams noticed the real problem

Douglas Adam’s said  “But even Amazon has only got part of the picture. Like real world shops, they can only record the sales they actually make. What about the sales they don’t make and don’t know that they haven’t made because they haven’t made them?” Douglas Adams “The Salmon of Doubt” by Permission of Pan Macmillan. That pretty much covers the problem if you extrapolate the thinking for Data Analytics, Big Data or even Artificial Intelligence based Data and Decision systems.

“Data is binary a yes or no (even complex views), it does not capture motivation, intention, desire, cognition, distraction or any other human reasoning or pattern”

child pretending to be robot data prentending to be truth
child pretending to be robot data prentending to be truth

A child pretending to be a robot just as data pretends to be the truth, he is a kind of robot and data is a kind of truth

A pure Data approach to understanding customers will provide the wrong data because data is an absolute and people are not. Even with Artificial Intelligence it only works from the starting point you give it, if any of the perimeters are wrong the whole data sample is wrong.

Guide to understanding Customers

  • Data, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence – Tells you what
  • People in target demographic – Tell you why

People in target demographic

User research answers the question Why have we not made the Sale? through the only people equipped to answer the question, consumers. This is not market research, its scientific without a predetermined agenda or outcome. User Research is a problem solving method that offers solutions by finding the right questions, finding the right people and asking the questions in a way that does not lead or direct the answers.

There are right questions and people to ask?

This may sound a little Adamsesque (if you ask the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything you get 42, because it the wrong question). Getting the questions or setup wrong is the real problem with an Analytics approach to a Diagnostic process. While it may be reasonably expected by a seller to directly ask, why didn’t a visitor become a buyer or register. Visitors may be asking themselves where am I? what does this do? this does not make sense, should that be happening? technology, why do I bother? Why has my screen gone pink? None of these “in mind” experiences are expressed in the data or even a consideration for the data schema design.

A visitors experience is not only defined by the online environment but they bring past experiences, desires and doubts about their current experience. Without these insights from research, it is difficult for clients to grasp potential problems, gain a good return upon their investment (ROI), innovate to fit the market and consumer needs or break into a new market sector.

Reasons that Data is Trusted and People are Not

It appears to come down to scale and a short sighted approach to costs. Buying an Analytics Solution appears to tick all the boxes, even if in reality it does not. While using Research Companies or in-house Research Teams seems expensive in comparison.

“The real trick is to understand you need both, you always did”

retro robot toys, not what you expect when you say robot today
retro robot toys, not what you expect when you say robot today

When I first started using Web Position Gold (the analytics tool), bought by Webtrends long before Google Analytics existed or the current proliferation of products promising the impossible, we used it to spot trouble only. We would then do some user testing in the area, working out possible failure scenarios, from there we would suggest two or three solutions and build them for A/B testing to see what worked and what did not. Everything was monitored and all the data from both analytics and user testing was collated into one final solution. Sometimes there was a single resolution, a re-architecting of a section, in one project I kept 16 pathways active because they all delivered transactions for different types of customers.

The thing is just as there is no absolute way to find out the problem, resolution or adaptive innovation except byDiagnostics a digital and human activity.

Diagnostics

[Data+Human+Solution+Testing=Resolution]

+

[Feedback+Data+Human=Adaptive Innovation]

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#Cognition #Clash in the #IoT #SXSW

Thank you to everyone who attended our (Karl Smith and Thom Heslop) talk at SXSW, it’s the start of a long road into a really complex and contextual problem. But being silent in the crowd as the King walks by with no clothes on is not an option, peoples lives, futures and prosperity is at risk, not to mention the risk of multi-trillion dollar lawsuits that can follow by knowingly distracting people who are engaged in critical tasks.

Cognition Clash in the IoT at SXSW16
Cognition Clash in the IoT at SXSW16

The IoT – Internet of Things (Ubiquity) is the next great opportunity for commerce to engage with business enterprises and customers. However, there is no unified approach to the mental load between physical interaction, mental interaction and digital interaction. This cognitive landscape is inhabited by associated experiences that gel human behaviour and machine interfaces through, touch, mouse and keyboard. The usage of sight, voice and thought create new complexities and risks which have until recently been the subject of defence technologies (battlefield and strategic), where clear outcomes and prescribed mental models exist.

IoT clash girl dies
IoT clash girl dies

The diversification of these touch points and multi-point human logic models clash and derail human thinking patterns.

We are looking for people and their knowledge to help create an Ubiquity Open Standard. We are doing this because no one else has noticed this fundamental error in thinking, the hoping that product based companies will work together in creating common standards that are driven by an understanding of human thinking capabilities, cognitive models, relational thinking and machine interactions is unlikely.

While product manufactures continue with supremacy attitude to other ecosystem products and services,

“the human voice and our needs and desires are subjugated to simply another component”

albeit the one that is constantly paying for everything without any input on how it works.

Some Foundations (the rest will go in a technical paper)

Distributed Cognition studies the ways that memories, facts, or knowledge is embedded in the objects, individuals, and tools in our environment. According to Zhang & Norman (1994), the distributed cognition approach has three key components: Embodiment of information that is embedded in representations of interaction Coordination of enaction among embodied agents. Ecological contributions to a cognitive ecosystem.

In Embodied Interaction Dourish -everyday human interaction is embodied; non-rationalising, intersubjective and bodily active.  User, not designers, create and communicate meaning and manage coupling. Not just concerned with what people do, but also with what they mean by what they do and how that is meaningful to them. It reflects the sets of meanings that can be ascribed to objects and actions over those objects as part of a larger task or enterprise

Cognition the key to the mind, how people understand what they can do is by comparison a Diagnostic Methodology (goals, adaptations, conventions) with what they already know by accessing the Active Narrative patterns they have created in their own minds according to Smith (2005).

Cognition Patterns Cognition Clash in the IoT different people think differently
Cognition Patterns Cognition Clash in the IoT different people think differently

Cognition Groups create a communication paradigm, they carry intention, meaning, risks and benefits.

  • Some Cognition patterns are common, shopping basket etc.
  • Some Cognition Patterns are social by Family, Sports Team etc.
  • Some Cognition Patterns change without notice

Guided Interaction, existing websites offer guided interaction – simplified cognitive pattern encapsulating a plethora of interacting technology and data systems: Shopping Basket – This representation allows for distributed cognition > appropriation > cognitive pattern forming understand– once a user has used a shopping basket they will understand how to use them and generalize: transferable cognitive pattern

Some of the issues with the IoT

  • There is no standard of interactivity for humans in the IoT – not a problem if passive background machine-to-machine. A very big problem if actively interacting with humans, who are all different and can create their own meanings for example LOL.
  • How does a user form any cognitive patterns from an invisible system?
  • IoT combines known patterns as hidden machine-to-machine communications that can create mistrust and security fears
  • Detailed component view we have constructed around daily interactions is no longer valid

Some of our initial research

IoT Design Principals

  • What is device / service for?
  • Where will it be situated?
  • When will it be triggered?
  • What other devices will it be interacting with?
  • Where can it clash?
  • Security? – * Lack of security – Shodan
  • Design Principal: “Do No Harm

IoT Design Risks

Context is critical

  • Situational interaction problems for consideration

The following barriers reduce our ability to understand the situation

  • Perception based on faulty information processing
  • Excessive motivation – over motivated to the exclusion of context
  • Complacency
  • Overload
  • Fatigue
  • Poor communications

A possible solution

  • Avatar (can be visual, sound, texture, smell, taste or a combination) – smart use of Artificial intelligence (AI), where the users cognitive interface is patterned on their unique cognition pattern through a learning algorithm
  • This avatar should be directional and instructional like digital signage
  • This avatar should respond to the users behavioural interaction and should fall away gracefully as users behaviour becomes more ‘expert* In effect it should be a learning system – learns from the users rather than based on static rules
  • For example the AI that George Hotz has built into his self driving car while not the answer points to the kind of thinking required to find the answer, don’t tell the machine to watch and learn from a human and then carry out your task (from 3.33 to 5.04) “the point is to drive naturally like a human, not some engineer’s idea of safety“. For anyone who then thinks this is the final solution, please let us know why you think driving a car is like cooking dinner or navigating the street?

The Full SXSW Talk is on YouTube

Connect to the speakers on LinkedIn here Karl Smith and Thom Heslop

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Can real #UX be done in a #global #consultancy?

As with Agile, UX has suffered fools having a go and failing.

Focusing on titles, roles, activities or outputs misses the essential process that has not been applied by qualified, able and intelligent people who are able to deliver. No amount of talking about wireframes without understanding that anyone can produce a wireframe, just like anyone can produce a presentation can reduce the risk of confusing a delivery mechanism with the deliverable itself.

“Wireframes are not the deliverable in UX”

The deliverables of UX are the user research, business research, domain research, usability, accessibility, site architecture, enterprise architecture, data architecture, control language, logic model, engagement model, commerce model  that are communicated in wireframes and functional specifications. This is the story of industrialisation vs. quality. The battle is as old as time big companies want to commoditise services, but some services just don’t fit that model.

“UX is client (audience) specific not consultancy specific so cannot be industrialised”

So while client companies appear similar they are not and their UX cannot be packaged and mass re-sold to other companies. If the ethos of the big consultancies cannot work with UX, what can?

The only thing that can make UX work at enterprise level is a change of ethos driven by “clients not willing to accept the same results” as before.

“As with all business real UX demand will create real UX supply.

The recent changes in the service market where small agencies work on huge corporate accounts, is a clear indication that clients want customer/user experience strategy, customer/user focused projects and high quality visual design as part of all their projects. Companies are committing to engaging, usable and effectual experiences for their staff, partners and customers. And global consultancies are on catch up.

The key thing must be can global consultancies deliver actual UX?

More and more are being found out for pushing graphic designers on to client’s as UX people but they just can’t deliver the ROI required.

More importantly than the deliverables what will the global UX leadership be?

Leadership in UX is critical as it sets the agenda for service offerings, promotion and recruitment. And because there are so many people taking UX who clearly don’t have a clue, what happens if one of these people gains control of UX in an enterprise? My experience of fixing companies after such things is every talented person leaves, just like they do in a buy out. The only recovery point is to get rid of “the director” and start again.

The question to all global consultancies must be,

“how many times can you start your UX offering again, before you lose the confidence of clients”

very few I suspect.

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Interview with a #User #Experience #Guru part 2

User Experience (UX) why is it important?

User experience is so important because it enables client companies to get to the heart of their relationship with their customers without the marketing glamor that hides how they really feel and what they really experience. Client companies spend a great deal of money creating myths about what they do and their relationship to their customers but they also need the reality that user experience research brings.

Ultimately user experience is about the ability to make decisions based upon re-creatable rigorous scientific research (avoiding one person’s view) involving real customers to create actionable information for design and the businesses strategic and tactical objectives.

Real user experience should be at the heart of the client company making the alignment between them, their products and their customers. User experience can also be the starting point to create new business opportunities changing the client company’s future or creating entire new companies.

So you can change the future of a company or create new ones with User Experience (UX)?

Yes, in some way because user experience is seen as something new or an add-on many people are missing the point. User experience picks up on that entrepreneurial aspect that few people have by enabling client companies to rapidly test and distill (through user requirements) the few great ideas from the thousands of ideas that enable them to engage with and transact with their customers, build trust and establish relationships or become iconic service or product supplier.

So User Requirements are the critical bit?

Yes, if you can work out what does the customer want to do and how do they expect to acquire products or services then the market is predefined and ready for engagement.

Are User Requirements hard to find?

Ha, ha, you mean is there an easy way to find them? One of my sayings is ‘something new for the sake of something great’ some requirements seem obvious, but when tested with real customers are worthless. Other user requirements are only revealed in user research; I often find killer requirements in user research that make projects from a basic fix into a game changer. In one project I found 12 user requirements that would have made the software system better than the market leader ($150m to install) but not all the requirements made it into the build.

So not all User Requirements make it into the project, why?

Partly it’s business and partly it’s personality. The business part is cost and time, there may only be a specific remit of the project defined by a static cost and a static delivery date. In these circumstances un-used requirements are allocated to later phases in a logical way so that they add value. The second part personality goes to the expert culture, where people in a project team purposefully ignore or seek to limit user requirements because they want control, be seen to lead or be the expert. It’s quite sad as the expert culture is responsible for the 70/30 (though I think it’s more 90/10) where 70% of all technology projects fail. If people could be more objective and listen to the two expert groups the client company and the customers then we could change that ratio significantly. Unfortunately the expert culture will do almost anything to protect itself from be relegated to a mediator, even if that is it’s most effective and beneficial role.

When User Requirements don’t make it into a project does it affect the client outcomes?

Yes always, sometimes quite dramatically.

I worked with a digital agency (on another project) where they built a social network for a huge multinational. It was filled with lots of fun flash games based around a well-known household product. The client remit was we need to be involved in social media, the agency did no user research and the client company never asked for any. The result was a £1m spend on a social media system that had 88 (44 from the project team) people sign up.

The best way to understand this problem is to ask clients;

  • Do they want to have a go?
  • Do they want to fill a gap?
  • Do they want to capture a market?
  • Do they want to be iconic?

The 90% attitude is to have a go and they fail their original outcomes (but usually change the outcome to get something), 7% will fill a gap (because it’s new territory and they can’t qualify success), 2% will capture a market (but not hold it long, because they rest when they should push on to iconic) and 1% iconic because they got everything aligned before going to market.

What happens to the people who reduce the client outcomes and limit User Requirements effect on a project?

This depends on what the client company expectation was. Many people go on as if it’s normal to not deliver advantage then wonder why clients move to new service providers. I have provided consultancy at both ends of this spectrum. I offer vendor consultancy to see if the consultants who make the pitches actually have a considered (around the client) process or are just shoveling the same stuff for everyone. And looking at delivery divisions to see if they are fit for purpose in that area I have had people promoted and other fired for incompetence.

When working with developers my question is always ‘your changing the user requirement now embed in a design (for whatever reason) if the project fails because of this change, you will be fired, do you still want to make the change?’

This goes to the heart of requirements they are not opinions they are instructions, changing them should be at the peril of the person who changes them, there should always be a risk associated with a single perspective change.

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#Holistic #UX #Customers don’t think or interact along #channels

Business management does not reflect customer (users) activity

The management of a businesses online presence is broken up into various channels in order to simplify the management, responsibility and accountability for overall effectiveness and value. However customers (users) are unaware of these business rules and are only focused on their task or tasks, which will cut across several channels.

Holistic customer (user) experience is cross channel

Given the behaviour of customers (users) it is clear that effectual user experience is cross channel as well. This creates some problems for business, however with the advent of Agile, user stories it may be time for businesses to at last really focus on their customers (users) by changing their online management to reflect key user pathways rather than holding on to legacy notions of management.

Customer experience an example (not everything)

1. Engagement > 2. On boarding > 3. Payments > 4. Servicing > 5. Supporting > 6. Retention > 7. Up/Cross Selling

  1. Engagement – how the customer finds out about the company, where their expectations are set (also includes brand identification) and they self filter based upon personal tasks and objectives
  2. On boarding – agreement that the company provides the service required, through written and visual material, social media, personal recommendations, reviews, sign up routes
  3. Payments – payment or funding pathways related to e-commerce, m-commerce (including micro payments)
  4. Servicing – providing the goods or services, delivery and tracking
  5. Supporting – providing help and support both online and telephony (can complete servicing)
  6. Retention – managing potential loss of customers, analytics, advanced planning
  7. Up/Cross selling – data mining existing customers to up or cross sell other products and services to existing customers

For a customer this process can take hours, days, weeks, months or years and contains three key user experiences;

  1. A transaction (engagement, on boarding, payment, servicing, support)
  2. Customer relationship management (on boarding, payment, servicing, support, retention)
  3. Marketing (engagement, on boarding, retention, up/cross selling)

These experiences cross relate as can be seen by their components.

Managing the web in a holistic manner reduces risk and lowers cost

The problem remains at present that the customers (users) experience is supported by multiple sub-systems with owners and their own agendas.

Digital channel management costs a huge amount of time and money and creates a great deal of risk that valuable customer activity will become secondary to internal politics

There needs to be an importance given to the customers overall experience and the need to join it up in terms of user experience, visual appearance and standard interactions across multiple platforms and systems.

Related

 

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12 #UX things you need to know

Getting into user experience, what you need to know?

What will a person need to be able to do to get into user experience;

1. Can you think?

Not the most subtle way to ask, but can you be creative? Thinking at the beginning of a project can save a huge amount of money and time later, but many user experience people blast their way into a project by starting on wireframes, without knowing what they are doing.

A huge amount of user experience simply is not user experience, its pretty pictures with poor justifications ‘it’s best practice’ my usual response is ‘prove that it’s best practice’.

2. Can you find things out?

Do you have a critical mind, can you work out what is missing from the information you have been given.

A project requires a bit of detective work because there are always gaps in the information provided to user experience, mainly because clients and IT don’t know what to provide or what is provided has had the juicy bits (outlier views) removed because clients and IT don’t know they are important.

3. Are you objective?

Having a strong opinion on user experience is really important, but it must always be tempered with an open non judgemental attitude. Are you willing to be changed by what your client, users or IT people know?

User experience people are not the gate keepers of an absolute set of rules, we have two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we speak.

4. Can you discern Fact from Fiction?

Again talking with clients, users or IT people can be pretty confusing unless you can work out if what they are talking about is still within the boundaries and various time lines of the project. A quick guide;

  • Clients tend to talk about the desired end state
  • Users tend to talk about any snippets they have heard about the project or their hopes for it
  • IT tends to take the pragmatic approach by thinking ‘what can we really deliver’

They are all true or were true at some point, or may be true if we had more time and money etc.

5. Can you deal with the politics?

Can you avoid taking sides in the various feuds that were going on before you got there and not flame the fires of distrust between business and IT.

6. Will you understand the business you are serving?

Your in a service relationship with the business, helping them get past their assumptions about their users and giving them some facts to act upon.

7. Will you understand the users you are serving?

Your in a service relationship with the users, helping them get what they need and desire.

8. Can you test – concepts, theories, business thinking, user perceptions etc?

Your going to need a lot of guts to question other peoples thinking.

User experience people reserve the right to ask stupid questions, in order to avoid doing stupid things, by Karl Smith 1999.

I’ve been saying this since 1999, I say it on every project.

9. Can you seek validation?

The user experience person is not right, they can come up with concepts and questions but a user experience person never decides they are right, they must check out what they do with other people. Often this process of seeking validation reveals more information and opens door to previously inaccessible people.

10. Can you communicate – findings and concepts?

Can you talk to people and provide information to them in a digestible way? The best way to work is to not use jargon, not assume that people understand anything especially verbal references to famous people or design principals.

You need to be able to package your information in the users and stakeholders own verbal environment, so that they recognise and understand it when they hear it.

11. Can you understand and benefit from the project teams expertise?

Do you know what other people on the project do? For example do you know enough about technology to carry out research with developers to pre-scope extra user requirements.

Can you cope with the give and take that happens during development and know which things to fight for?

12. Finally do you keep your common sense active?

Can you spot a non sensible request, a great example of this was NASA spending $1,000,000 on a pen that would work in space, while Roscosmos (USSR) gave their astronauts a pencil. Can you give a reasoned non personalised argument for not doing something?

Related

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