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.

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.