Dead Simple User Testing
Clay Shirky on Meet-ups User Testing
Every now and again, I see a business doing something so sensible and so radical at the same time that I realize I'm seeing a little piece of the future. I had that feeling last week, after visiting my friend Scott Heiferman at Meetup.
On my way out after a meeting, Scott pulled me into a room by the elevators, where a couple of product people were watching a live webcam feed of someone using Meetup. Said user was having a hard time figuring out a new feature, and the product people, riveted, were taking notes. It was the simplest setup I'd ever seen for user feedback, and I asked Scott how often they did that sort of thing. "Every day" came the reply.
Every day. That's not user testing as a task to be checked off on the way to launch. That's learning from users as a way of life.
Andres Glusman and Karina van Schaardenburg designed Meetup's set-up to be simple and cheap: no dedicated room, no two-way mirrors, just a webcam and a volunteer. This goal is to look for obvious improvements continuously, rather than running outsourced, large-N testing every eighteen months. As important, these tests turn into live task lists, not archived reports. As Glusman describes the goal, it's "Have people who build stuff watch others use the stuff they build."
So after Web 2.0, here's Eric Schmidt's take on Web 3.0
After first joking that Web 2.0 is "a marketing term", Schmidt launched into a great definition of Web 3.0. He said that while Web 2.0 was based on Ajax, Web 3.0 will be "applications that are pieced together" - with the characteristics that the apps are relatively small, the data is in the cloud, the apps can run on any device (PC or mobile), the apps are very fast and very customizable, and are distributed virally (social networks, email, etc).
Five Characteristics of Web Brands
From Marketing Profs: Five Key Characteristics of Web Brands
Web brands are useful
They have a clarity of purpose
The embrace simplicity
They interact and engage
They are customer-centric
Social Networks Useful to Share Identity
Sharing video, photos and music with friends and family online or How Social Networks Became Useful.
According to a November eMarketer report by senior analyst Debra Williamson, 2007 ad spending on U.S. social-networking sites will jump to $865 million from $350 million in 2006 a close to three-fold jump. By 2010, the report estimates, spending will reach $2.15 billion.
Meanwhile Bruce Nussbaum calls Identity, the New Paradigm.
A while back, I posted an item on "identity" as a new paradigm that could replace "experience" in our business culture. Academia, especially linguistics, has been talking about the shift from experience to identity for some time. The idea is that the concept of "experience" is passive.
But life really isn't like that. People are not passive--they make their own lives. People interract with their environments to create their distinct identities. Let me repeat that--people interract with their environments to create their own identities. This amounts to co-creating your own products and services.
YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, Second Life and in the gaming world, you create an identity. Yes, there are avatars and they are the purest form of identity. But for me, it is the identity you build in the real world working with tools provided by companies that is the most interesting. How you configure you iPod or how you organize your cell phone defines you and reflects who you are. TiVo, Nikes, the sessions and workshops you chose and listed at the World Economic Forum, etc. That's your identity. None of that is passive.
The Absence of Abruptness
The absence of abruptness is a key element of good user interface as Kathy Sierra points out in iPhone and the Dog Ears User Experience Model.
Fluidity, follow-through and bounce.
Even if you don't notice it consciously, an animation (even of just words) feels more appealing and alive when things move in the virtual world more like things do in the real world (or even more exaggerated). It feels more lyrical, fluid... less abrupt. And that is what the iPhone UI does.
...it wasn't the scrolling that made my jaw drop... it was what happened when the scrolling stopped: it bounced! The thing actually bounced if you flicked it hard and fast enough to send it flying up to the very (or bottom) of the list before it had a chance to slow down and stop. It actually bounced. And until you've seen it slow down and bounce, you haven't felt that visceral, life-like, fluidity.