Tag Archives: UX
If we’re going to send people online, let’s do it with respect.
A couple of months ago, National Australia Bank sent a letter out to its shareholders advising them of a change to the way the company would now report. Instead of the the traditional Shareholder Review (and optional Annual Report), the company would now mail a much smaller Summary Review, and would direct shareholders to a PDF posted online if they wanted more detailed information.
On the face of it, this seems laudable—we all want to save paper and resources—and in keeping with NAB’s sustainability policies. But there is a real problem here, and that is that NAB is still sending people to a PDF*. In 2014! Read more
A couple of years ago, a startup called Stamped created an app and service that let you rate anything and everything. Your local doughnut shop? Rate it and tell your friends. Your favourite beach? Rate it and tell your friends. In fact, rate anything you want!
But Stamped never anticipated the prankster, or what I think of as the benignly destructive user. It seems nobody ever asked “what would someone do here if they were just here to screw around?”
If it had, perhaps people wouldn’t have been able to rate “Getting a hand-job during the Muppets Movie” or any of the other things that people who totally weren’t me rated on there.
Maybe it would still be around.
Yesterday, I ambled up to a colleague’s shiny new iPhone 6. I saw that it was charging, and I said “Hey Siri, from now on call me Penis-Face”. Guess what? Siri duly changed his nickname in his contacts and said “Ok, from now on, I’ll call you Penis-Face.” I exploited a ‘feature’ of iOS 8—when an iPhone is connected to power, it constantly listens for the term “Hey Siri”, followed by a command. Then it executes that command.
What I did wasn’t really malicious, but it was a dick move and a childish prank. However the point is that I shouldn’t have been able to do it. Someone on the development team for iOS 8 should have seen that a prank so obvious is something jerks are going to want to do.
This matters. Users like that—the jerks—are out there in their tens of thousands. Millions, even. They’re not exactly attempting to hurt your business or product; they just want to have a good time. That’s your problem when that good time comes at the expense of your new service or product.
As we move toward a model of the world where nearly every business is just a website with some people out the back, we’ve got to keep these jerks in mind and anticipate where they might fool around with your product to have what (to them) are a few childish laughs.
When we at Floate build things for people, I always ask “how could someone screw this up for shits and giggles?” People tend to think I’m joking but I’m deadly serious because if your site, network, or product becomes a playground for a bunch of jerks, it turns off the people whose time and attention you’re really trying to obtain. Almost nobody ever got a promotion doing that.
The internet security world has for years had white-hat hackers—people whose job it is to test code for security flaws. It’s time for designers to adopt the idea. Next time you’re working on a long-term project, appoint a designated white-hat jerk; someone whose job it is to keep thinking about how a person or group with a bit of time on their hands might try to bend and twist your system for a few laughs. This isn’t simply asking someone to be a tedious Devil’s Advocate—it’s ensuring that someone is always thinking “How could someone fool around with this, and what would that mean for our end product?”
If you want to make it next-level, create a Jerk as a user persona, create some stories for them, and work out if your system is ready for them.
You’ll get push-back, but it’s worth it. Nobody wants to be the next Stamped.
- Well, Stamped did get acquired by Yahoo for $10 Million. ↩
Next steps for using information from Victoria’s Smart Meters. Insight and actions beat data dumps every time.
Beginning with the Jemena Electricity Outlook Portal (on which we worked with DiUS) and most recently with Origin Energy’s revamped Origin Smart, Victorian energy distributors and retailers have worked hard to deliver energy-use data so their customers can make better-informed decisions about their energy use.
Instead of data, they need to deliver value.
The portals tend toward the same type of information display — a dashboard of bar and pie charts that show energy use over hours, days and weeks. It’s data, sure, but is it enough?
We’ve written before about the importance of strong mobile designs for hospitality websites. Over the past year, we’ve launched a number of responsive sites, including large-scale work for ANZ and Origin Energy. More recently, we’ve built and launched sites for some much smaller (but still fantastic) organisations that are very close to our hearts. Having had these sites online for some time now, we can tell you some of the things we’ve learned. Read more