Posts

sales force
, ,

Having a Pervasive Experience, While Discussing Pervasive Experiences

MC HammerSalesforce’s mega event Dreamforce is on now. If you thought it was just a sales tool then think again. There is a reason why MC Hammer was in the audience and it has to do with the powerful impact social media has on businesses.

Salesforce is one of the biggest tools in the pervasive UX arsenal. It is not a pure UX tool in the way Axure or User Zoom are but it has a much bigger impact. It is like comparing an asteroid to a beach pebble.

The strong CRM capability extends the user experience far beyond the reach of the webpage from a business perspective. Every thing is done in real time. In their demo they illustrated how you could go up to a Coke machine and pay using a smart phone. That purchase could be tracked, appear in a loyalty scheme and get “liked” on Facebook.

With 45,000 people in attendance, over the next couple days, at Dream Force I feel like the only one left out. But according to Facebook and Twitter I am in great company. It was a packed house on both fronts on Twitter and Facebook. I could not resist a posting a cheeky comment on their Twitter feed about “what happens when cars start talking to each other”. Only because I know that these get displayed on screens at the event and this was my way of saying “Hi” to a fellow co-worker in attendance. Hi Sam, did you see me?

 

Women in Despair
, , ,

Pervasive User Experience (UX)

Pervasive  User Experience is about extending the user experience and connecting it to the world users live in and work in as well the service or product. Pervasive UX is not about the what and how in the beginning, but it does get there.

First it is about the who and the why, understanding the needs of the end users and everything they will come into contact with. There is almost a cascade effect that can occur from user interaction not unlike the Butterfly Effect . Pervasive UX is disruptive. It is likened to a chaos theory. It ignores the silos in an organisation and breaks down barriers. Back-end processes and structures become invisible. Users are broadcasters and promoters of what matters to them.

It is a moving target. Social media, augmented reality and smart devices are driving user experience into uncharted territory. User experience is travelling beyond the traditional boundaries. It cannot be defined by what happens on a web page or within a single application or service.

User experience has gone from being a tactic sprinkling of usability, to keep the hippie mongrels at bay with their wacky usability principals, to becoming a new business model as brands struggle to keep up in fast paced multi-channel world.

Users identify with the method in which they interact with a company, product or service. Companies are only as good as their call centre or their sign up process. To the consumer mobile services are retailers. You walk into a shop or go online and buy. How is this a telecommunications company to the average Joe on the street? It is not. When users are online it is a digital service. This digital service extends beyond the pages or even the site. Digital is now the dominant interface for a lot of businesses.

If digital is now the dominating aspect then social media is the glue. The social media phenomenon extends the reach of the user experience. Every touch point a user has with an organisation should provide a seamless experience. A pervasive user experience strategy forms part of the core philosophy of an organisation.

This has a big impact for businesses as user expectations and perception is rapidly changing. During the Dot.com boom companies rushed in to offer services before the infrastructure and take up of the web was at a mass level. Now it is users who are in charge and the companies need to adapt and understand these new pathways. Business processes need to be re-engineered to become more usable to the user.

An example that comes to mind is my recent stay at the 4 star, La Centre Sheraton in Montreal I experienced the full Faulty Towers Experience, diagram below.


Until I got into my room I was having a mostly positive experience.

  • I asked about the staff about the top floor bar. I was abruptly told it was unavailable. I finally found out it was only available to Elite Members.
  • The complete lack of WiFi filled me with horror. Room internet access costing more than an expensive meal. Business lounge day care centre  gave me a full free 30 minutes on one of their computers.
  • At check out they charged us extra per bag regardless of size to hold them until our flight. Lining up at both the checkout and the porter desk. The porter desk is as far as the hotel management is concerned a separate business unit.
  • The experience was not a good pervasive experience. Everything was about sales. There was nothing about keeping me as a customer, engaging with me or recommending them to friends. It was as far as I am concerned a “one shot deal”. Good bye Sheraton.

 

But something of a paradigm shift is happening. It just has not made it to most companies yet. I wrote in another article on Disruption Innovation that employees of companies are tired of waiting for the company to give them tools to do their jobs better and are taking to the web to collaborate. This is called Shadow IT. But how much money and time have companies wasted and are wasting to replicate what is already there?

Suppose I am applying for a credit reference  to rent a property.

Why is it I am expected to print 6 months of bank statements? Why can I not simply click on a button on my bank site that says “send reference to” and fillout a few details? Surely the renting agent does not to see that I spent £xx on shoes, when all they want to know is whether I have had a steady income and no overdrafts? Surely that is worth something to some one and would help reduce fraud. What happens with those 6 months of printed bank statements that get sent to the letting agent, how do I know they were appropriately destroyed?

Tactical UX starts with a project, a budget and a list of vague requirements and go down the process route of producing personas, wireframes and a solution. By then it is too late for UX to contribute on a strategic level.

Pervasive UX ascends to the Grand Strategic level of an organisation and can give companies a constructive advantage.

The chief role of User Experience strategists are:

  • Bring a customer perspective to problems through deep understanding.
  • Account for and minimize bias.
  • Identify business opportunities promote end user well being.
  • Facilitate a balance between business goals, user needs and technology.

 

The foundations are there, the semantic web did arrive and is silently increasing. Data is more open and augmented reality has taken off. It is all about delivering big connected experiences now.

We are looking at situation where user experience strategy has taken on the task of being a catalyst for positive change and disruption.

Please comment and let me know what you think.

think outside the box in vintage wood type

What Good Looks Like

 

I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking and discussing with other UXers about where UX is going and how the lines are getting more blurred as UX becomes more pervasive. At the same time I still get dragged into the “UX 101” conversations that should have ended 10 years ago with people who profess to be experts.

The easy answer is that UX is was born about 15 years ago out of the user centred design processes. It was first applied in usability, user research and information architecture. UX now includes design and development skills sets as well as strategy. The principals and core objectives of UX however, have not changed. They have matured. UX is now a huge industry and widely understood. Clients themselves are very sophisticated.

Most people in UX know this and have a common understanding and know what good UX is. I see myself as a UX person first. Whatever deliverable I am producing (IA, strategy or design) I think about the person who is going to be using the end product or system.

What good looks like is the outcome. No one can hold up a sample and say this is good without explaining the thinking the decisions that have gone into it and why these were made and how they came to those conclusions.

To the casual observer a design or an information architecture can look good. Great even. This is why understanding what user experience is and being able to explain and measure it is the only way to avoid costly mistakes or interfaces that do not work.

As an example:

A lot of people think Microsoft does not create great experiences. They proudly share their insanity in a blog post. This has to be the top retweet for the UX community today. Most people thought it was a joke but here is the story about the “streamlined UI” from Seldo.

Orange text may look good to some people but it is not usable by everyone. Yellow on green is even worse. Some usability issues like those are easy once you know them and the reasons why. Skills like developing a taxonomy or using categorization become second nature. All of that falls in the realm of knowing what is best practice. Developing that knowledge is fundamental but that is just the foundation. It takes time and a lot of experience to become proficient in user experience. Picking up the tools and the skills are the easy part. The hardest part is keeping up and staying current.

UX design differs from non UX design by bringing a wisdom and depth of knowledge of what users want from the design as well as understanding persuasion. In some cases every element on the page has a rational that is based on user research and rigorous measuring for effectiveness.

It is not about memorizing or copying. The bar keeps getting higher and this is user driven. What matters most is understanding and studying user behaviour. Think how people do things and what their need state is as well as frame of mind and other considerations. Constant research and measuring the user experience are the only way to ensure a positive outcome.

This is why deep understanding of social media and mobile applications needs to be a part of the UX thinking. Keeping on the edge and looking into the future is the only way to keep up.

A lack of this understanding can make people defensive and get them to promote individual specialties at the expensive of others, often demonstrating a narrow mindedness that is counterproductive.

Good UX does not come in a box.