Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Now blogging at HFI Connect

We're excited about the launch of HFI Connect, the user experience community.

Visit my blog on HFI Connect.

HFI Connect is an entire community of professionals dedicated to improving the user experience, engaging visitors, and moving them toward conversion. Read my blog and blog posts from other HFI usability experts and join forum discussions with UX professionals.

You'll find expert PET design reviews of top company websites. Each month, we review websites for persuasion, emotion, and trust and see how different elements of each site measure up to PET design best practices.

Join today: connect.humanfactors.com


In-depth interviewing


For us the core of persuasion engineering is understanding the customer's deep drives, blocks, beliefs and feelings.

The only way we have to get at this is in-depth interviews, with highly trained staff. It takes at least a month of full-time work for me to train a staff member to do these interviews. We have been very successful with using this method to develop actionable analyses. For example, the PET analysis above was done from research about car-pooling. You will see a set of serious blocks. They tell us that car-pooling will be a tough sell. They also tell us WHERE we need to make changes for people. As an example, we need to change the current view that it is high status to have a lot of cars, to a view that it is high status to share.

This type of in-depth interview work is time consuming and has in the past required extensive travel. We have assumed we needed to do these interviews in person. But, we are questioning this today. Perhaps it is possible to complete effective in-depth interviews remotely. Certainly, intimate dialogs can happen remotely. Why not interview? So, HFI Labs is now testing phone and video interviews, and will see if we can reduce the carbon footprint of our research.

Think it will work?

For more discussion of user experience design, visit HFI Connect.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What if I'm Taking the CUA?

Jill Asked:

How does this relate to someone currently enrolled in the CUA certification program?  The CXA up-sell language makes the CUA certification seem obsolete.  I have taken the first CUA course and am enrolled for the Design course that is being offered in a few weeks.  Is there any plan to have courses from one program count toward the other?  As you say, "usability is no longer enough."  How are these two programs (CUA, CXA) so different?  I won't be able to afford both certifications, and it seems that maybe the CUA certification should just be expanded vs. kept as a mutually exclusive entity.  Help?

 

I can help!

The PET Design skill set is an extension to the foundation of classic usability, which is the topic of the CUA™ programs.  Every company and every person involved in user experience design MUST have this foundation.  Classic usability is the core of user experience design.  If a user can’t find it, the user can’t be persuaded by it!    The CXA™ program that I am working on now is an extension to the foundation of classic usability.  We see the transition to user experience design about going beyond making things that people can use easily.  We are looking at the design issues more strategically; by participating in business positioning and new product ideation.  We are engineering persuasion and ensuring that advanced communication methods work.  We are applying our skills to a wider set of environments and products.  And we are operating in an ‘industrial strength’ mode, using advanced methods and tools to manage the amount of user centered work companies need today.  So get your foundation.  And look forward to the profound ways our field is growing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sharp Webcast re-broadcast questions

Here are three really exceptional questions that came in during the rebroadcast of the ‘Usability is no Longer Enough’ Webcast. Let’s give them a whirl:

Question: If usability alone is not enough, does it means PET design is needed AFTER the usability is done?

You need BOTH classic usability and PET design. So that way users CAN DO the tasks and will also be persuaded so they WILL do them as well. Now HFI offers SEPARATE processes for Classic UCD and ‘PET design™’. WHY?

There ARE cases where you are not really trying to persuade much. And then you just need to optimize performance. Business tools can be like that. Although I think increasingly people are moving toward business tools that are fun. After all why should games be the only application of funology work? But in any case sometimes your main focus is on the CAN DO aspect.

There are also cases where the classic usability is excellent already and you need to assess or design persuasion only. Many financial institutions have very good interfaces to allow transactions, but are almost devoid of persuasion methods. In this case we would just apply PET design alone.

But, in most cases we would do both classic UCD and PET design concurrently. This will give an interface that is both usable and persuasive; which is where I think the bar is right now for competitive applications and sites.

Question: What is "emotional" to some users may not be emotional to other users. How can we satisfy both types?

We have a wide range of decision making styles, just as we have a wide range of learning styles. But generally usability people underestimate how much of the decision making process is a function of emotion. We THINK that we are making logical decisions. But it is surprising how often those decisions are artful rationalizations of decisions we made based on emotion, or triggers, or habits.

If we want our users to buy, vote, share, ask their doctor, or just return often, then we must be able to engineer the emotions, triggers, and habits. This is great news, because it vastly increases the value of what customer-centric experts can offer.

Question: How do you structure your interview questions to get at the cognitive factors underlying the participant's motivations?

The PET Interview methodology is perhaps the most crucial capability is doing serious PET design work. It is useful to be able to apply persuasion tools (e.g., law of reciprocation, contrast principle, etc). But to really be powerful we have to understand the user’s drives, blocks, deep beliefs, and feelings. This means the right set and setting. It means the right participants and stimulus for the interview. But most critically it means having a facilitator who is capable of listening, directing, probing, laddering, and exploring the participant’s private insights. Then we have to evaluate this carefully, knowing the limitations of introspection. The result is a PET Analysis that is amazingly effective at driving development of a PET Strategy.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Is PET Design Really New

I’ve got a few great questions that ask (often with great passion) if this PET Design is really new.  They suggest I am churning up old stuff and claiming it is a new wave of the information age (for purposes of wealth, fame, and perhaps acclaim from my Mother).  So lets be clear.  PET Design is not an all new skill set HFI suddenly invented.  John Watson applied psychology to persuasion at JWT in the 1920s!  In fact I personally published on the topic on online PET Design in 1981.  The area of online persuasion is NOT new, but its time is now.

 

The point I am making is that just now PET Design is becoming the differentiator.  It is routine to have good functional hardware and software.  We are now getting near a point where it is routine to have usable offerings.  As usability becomes a commodity, usability is no longer enough.  To win in the market you need great hardware, software, and usability.  But you must also design to optimize persuasion.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

MP3s of the Future. Is it a need or a want?

Today I was teaching the PET Design course in New York. As usual it was great to see the usability educated stretching and grabbing the new perspective. But an issue came up that was great. Our parents tell us that there are 'needs' and 'wants'. We learn that the 'wants' are not really that important.

But in the persuasion space, the emotional wants are VERY important indeed. Fulfilling the need for CONTROL has been shown to extend lives for people in nursing homes. So is that emotional need not important? We often think we make decisions logically. But so often; the logical conclusion is just a rationalization of an emotional decision.

So forget just targeting 'High Satisfaction'. That is no longer enough! We need to target deeper needs. That MP3 player is not just a player. It is a tool for social recognition and to support social acceptance. And if that is true, we'd better design one that works well for that! My son Noah (finishing his PhD in Game Usability at RPI) was taking the class and had a player around his neck. It flashed nicely when it played. It looked very interesting and attracted discusion. The world is no longer about an MP3 player with enough memory. So we'd better get over that! We better understand the deep drives and feelings. The interesting engineering work is in that space anyway.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why usability is no longer enough: the need to design for Persuasion, Emotion, & Trust (PET)

video

HFI's PET DesignTM offers a new approach to help companies influence and deepen their interactions with online customers through Persuasion, Emotion, and Trust. This methodology is the result of extensive research, pilot programs, and client engagements with Fortune 500 companies over the past several years.

Whether a website is e-commerce, informational, or transactional, its mandate is to establish deeper relationships with customers. Understanding how and why people make online decisions that lead to conversion, and the subtle motivators and emotional triggers that influence how they react to website messages and content, is vital to maximizing the success of a site.

Traditional usability practices focus on creating efficient sites that are simple and easy to use. Thus, usability deals with the “can do” aspect of design (i.e., can users find information, understand content, or complete a task?). But just because a site is easy to use doesn’t mean it will engage consumers and meet business goals.

HFI’s PET Design builds on a foundation of good usability, but goes beyond “can do” to optimize the values of persuasion, emotion, and trust, ultimately influencing what users will do on a website. This helps companies achieve their online objectives, whether that is getting people to buy a product, sign-up for a newsletter, donate to a cause, ask their doctor about a drug, vote for a candidate, invest, etc.

What are your thoughts about this shift toward persuasive design?

Dr. Schaffer is currently traversing the globe teaching PET Design and promoting user experience. He will make every effort to respond to posts as quickly as possible.