Tag: Kathy Sierra

Kathy Sierra on Making Users Awesome, Part 5

In the book, Badass: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra analyzed and discussed the new ways of thinking about designing and sustaining successful products and services.

These are some of my takeaways from reading the book.

In the previous sections, Kathy discusses how to help our users to get better at a skill. We can help them practice right, and we also can help them get perceptual exposure.

In this section, Kathy continues the discussion on how to help our users keep wanting to get better at a skill. We can help them move forward with two approaches.

The first approach is to remove the blocks to their progress.

The key question to ask for keeping our users move forward is not, “What pulls them forward?” It is, “What makes them stop?” We need to help our users identify the “derailer” and remove it.

Our product/service serves as a “source-of-pulling” by keeping the users moving on a forward path.

Often there may be another force that is pulling the user away from the path. That force is the “source-of-derailing.”

We need to help our users minimize the impact of the “derailing” force. In other words, we help our users focus on reducing what slows or stops them.

The “derailing” force generally creates two elements, the “Gap of Suck” and the “Gap of Disconnect.”

The “Suck Zone” is guaranteed pain for everyone learning to do something. The “Gap of Suck” is the large, painful gap between our user’s motivating goal and their early experiences in the “Suck Zone.”

The “Gap of Disconnect” is the loss of motivation that occurs after buying our product/service. The users lost the connection between the compelling context pre-purchase and the tool post-purchase. They no longer trust that we will help them with anything but the typical business transaction of the tool.

The solution for combatting the derailer is to “Anticipate” and “Compensate.”

We need to anticipate the most likely faces our users might make and questions they might ask if we were next to them.

We also need to compensate for our users’ inability to show and tell us what they are experiencing.

To help users get through the “Gap of Suck” is to acknowledge it. Everything associated with our support for the beginner should convey the “First Day Sucks, but Second Day Gets Better” message.

The best places to uncover what other things we must compensate for are the online discussion forums.

To do a good job in compensating, do not hide the issue or deny it. Ether fix something that makes that problem go away completely or “Just Tell Them.”

Kathy Sierra on Making Users Awesome, Part 4

In the book, Badass: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra analyzed and discussed the new ways of thinking about designing and sustaining successful products and services.

These are some of my takeaways from reading the book.

In this section, Kathy continues to discuss the two attributes for building skills. The first common attribute across all domains in which people become experts is that those experts practice better.

The second attribute is “Perceptual Exposure.” Experts were exposed to high quantity, high quality of expertise. However, being exposed to the example of expertise does not necessarily build perceptual knowledge unless the exposure meets specific criteria.

With a sufficiently large set of diverse examples and immediate feedback, we can train our brains to find a deep, accurate pattern. Our brains begin to detect that which does not vary and gradually discover the deeper underlying patterns and structure.

To design a good perceptual exposure activity, we need to use a high quantity of high-quality examples that seem different on the surface but actually are not.

Good perceptual exposure exercises do not explain. Rather, they create a context that lets the learner’s brain “discover” the pattern.

We need to expose ourselves or our users to that high quantity of high-quality examples, with feedback and within a compressed time.

Perceptual Exposure exercises can fail if we designed it with some of the following flaws:

  • Not enough examples
  • Not enough diversity in the examples
  • Too long a gap between exposure and feedback
  • Attribute or pattern was too subtle for the brain to detect

Finally, we need to sure the Perceptual Exposure exercises do not expose our users to examples of bad by mixing them with the good.

Perceptual Exposure is a way for our brain to pick up the pattern it needs to learn. Adding the element of judgment (picking good or bad) will confuse our brains and slow down the pattern-recognition progress.

The best way to learn to spot “bad” is first by learning the underlying patterns of “good.” In other words, teach people to recognize bad/wrong/errors by developing and strengthening their recognition of good/right/correct.

Kathy Sierra on Making Users Awesome, Part 3

In the book, Badass: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra analyzed and discussed the new ways of thinking about designing and sustaining successful products and services.

These are some of my takeaways from reading the book.

In this section, Kathy discusses the approaches for building skills.

The first common attribute across all domains in which people become experts is that those experts practice better. Experts practice more effectively than experienced non-experts using the same amount of practice time.

Most skill-building approaches involve going from [A] Can’t do (but need to) to [B] Can do with effort, to, finally, [C] Mastered (reliable/automatic). This approach alone is insufficient for three reasons.

First, this sequence shows only skills that move from [A] to [B] to [C]. Experts have some skills that can move from [A] directly [C].

Second, experts never have an empty [A] list. They are adding new or refining existing skills all the time.

Finally, experts move skills from [B] to [C] but sometimes must also move skills backward from [C] to [B]. Unconscious/automated skills in [C] are often the cause of “intermediate blues.” Also, skills not de-automated, even when used regularly, will still deteriorate.

When experts practice more effectively, it means they do Deliberate Practice. The Deliberate Practice method means taking a skill and move it through the [A][B][C] stages swiftly.

Most of us try to practice too many things simultaneously instead of nailing one thing at a time. When we have too many skills that are stuck in the [B] stage and with very few skills in [C], we severely limit our skill-building effectiveness.

The goal of deliberate practice should be to design practice exercises that will take a fine-grained task from unreliable to 95% reliability, within one to three 45-90-minute sessions. If we cannot get to 95% reliability, we should stop trying. Either change the exercise or redesign the sub-skill.

Projects and tutorials are not deliberate practice. Projects are an excellent learning tool, but they are more about discovery and problem-solving than a reliable skill-building method.

Tutorials can give us a good feel for the skill we are learning and provide more context. Tutorials are valuable, but they are not the reliable skill-building method of Deliberate Practice.

Kathy Sierra on Making Users Awesome, Part 2

In the book, Badass: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra analyzed and discussed the new ways of thinking about designing and sustaining successful products and services.

These are some of my takeaways from reading the book.

In this section, Kathy discusses the science of badass. When we try to help our users become “badass” at using our products/services, Kathy believes we need to do at least two things:

  1. Help our users continue building skills/resolution/abilities.
  2. Help our users continue wanting to do so.

Expertise is not about years of experience or even a depth of knowledge. True experts repeatedly demonstrate their deep knowledge via consistently high performance.

Kathy defines “badass” as “Given a representative task in the domain, a badass performs in a superior way, more reliably.”

When we are badass at something, it means we make excellent decisions or choices more reliably than experienced non-experts.

Before we can help our users become badass, we must define what expertise is for the subject matter or the bigger context for our tool.

We need to define what expert performance and results look like. It is up to us to create a useful definition of what “expert” performance means for our context.

Other than the sports that depend on specific physical prerequisites, very few domains have hard genetic limits for expertise. Most people build expertise via motivated, focused practice.

While we cannot necessarily give our users extra time and space for practice, our tool should give them the support and utilities that make every learning moment as effective as possible.

Kathy Sierra on Making Users Awesome, Part 1

In the book, Badass: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra analyzed and discussed the new ways of thinking about designing and sustaining successful products and services.

These are some of my takeaways from reading the book.

Imagine we are in a game with one objective: producing a bestselling product or service with no marketing budget and no PR stunts. The product or service also must be sustainably successful. In other words, it is not a short-term fad. Kathy believes this is achievable with skill and strategy.

The answer to the previous question does not live in the products or services themselves. Surprisingly, the answer lies in those, the users, who use those products or services. True, trusted recommendations are the beginning of answering the ultimate question.

We may be tempted to look for common attributes across awesome products and try to duplicate those attributes. What we should be doing is to look for common attributes across awesome users of those products. Another word, awesome product is mostly a by-product or side-effect of users who can produce awesome results from it.

When users get awesome results from our products, they become badass users. Badass users are more skillful and more powerful in getting awesome results that are personally meaningful.

When badass users evangelize our products to their friends, they do not do it because they like our products. They do it because they like their friends and want to share the great results with them.

It turned out that most companies compete on the quality of the product (product/service awesomeness), not the quality of the user’s results with the product (user awesomeness). Competing solely on product quality has little headroom, especially when everyone can practice six-sigma and other quality-assurance frameworks.

Competing on the user awesomeness scale gives much room to maneuver and to grow. There are many more varieties of user awesomeness playing field to work with. As a result, we can intentionally design our product/service to serve a tribe of users and reduce the competition.

Competing on the user awesomeness scale requires us to think carefully and hard about the question of “Badass at… what?”

  • What does our product/service enable?
  • What can people now do because of our product/service that they could not do without it?
  • What can people now do better because of our product/service?
  • What are people not doing now, but could if they took advantage of all that our product/service supports?

Kathy encourages us to think hard about the “Compelling Context.” People do not want to be badass at user the tool/utility we created. They want to be badass at producing better results with our tool/utility.

But what defines “better?” Better is like when we upgrade our TVs/monitors from standard resolution to higher resolution. Higher resolution means more details. More details enable higher expertise. Higher expertise notices and appreciates more details, so they support each other. In other words, badass means a deeper, richer experience for the users.

Higher resolution also results in higher-end products/services. When we do not just upgrade our product but also upgrade our users, chances are more of them will become badass users. Badass users talk, and they are our best source of authentic, unincentivized recommendations.

One last thing. World-class customer service does not always result in more badass users. Badass users only come from helping them grow their skills, resolution, and results. Don’t just make a better tool/widget, make a better user of tool/widget!