I’m a dumb user, help me be smarter

I don’t mind admitting it, I can be a dumb user sometimes. It’s not shameful, it just means that I don’t understand your interface the way you designed it. Sure I can blame you and say you should have done better, but in the end it’s 6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other.

Take Fry, for example. He’s new to the 31st century and he’s mistaken this suicide booth for a phone booth. It’s not his fault he’s just a “kid from the stupid ages”.

An interface that provides a service as serious and immutable as suicide should absolutely come with a warning.

While a delete button isn’t nearly as serious it should come with warnings and or a safeguard to keep users like myself from making mistakes that can’t be undone. MailChimp and WordPress both do it right.

mailchimp-delete

MailChimp requires that I type the word DELETE in the form field above. Not only that, but I also have to type it EXACTLY the way you see it there. Delete and delete don’t work. You have to seriously want to delete a campaign or template.

trash-button

WordPress on the other hand doesn’t utilize a warning system. Instead it’s a 2 step process to delete something. First you delete it from the posts section. This lands your post in the trash, seen below.

trash-can

From there you have to press the “Empty Trash” button or the “Delete Permanently” button. Either way you know what you’re getting into.

Whether you have a preemptive alert system like MailChimp or a multi-step process like WordPress it’s important to help users like me prevent catastrophic failure.

“My content is so good I don’t need an unsubscribe button”

Today at Starbucks I had an interesting conversation with a guy who says he “works in marketing”.

Guy: “Hey, you look smart. Do you know anything about MailChimp?”

Me: “Yeah a bit…”

Guy: “Do you know how to remove the unsubscribe button from the bottom of an email?”

Me: “Why would you want to?”

Guy: “Cause I don’t want my subscribers to unsubscribe”

Me: “Ok, but what if they don’t want to read your emails anymore?”

Guy: “Why wouldn’t they want to?”

Me: “I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why someone would change their minds, but if they can’t unsubscribe they’ll get frustrated and mark it as spam”

Guy: “How do I stop them from marking it as spam?”

Me: “Write great content that provides value to your readers AND give them an unsubscribe button”

Guy: “But I don’t want them to unsubscribe”

Me: “Then don’t use MailChimp cause it’s a requirement”

Guy: “My content is so good I don’t need an unsubscribe button, why does MailChimp suck?”

Me: performs epic face palm

The Expectation of Perfection & Other Sins We Love

We are lazy. We are impatient. We expect perfection, even when we don’t pay for it. We are quick to wrath when we don’t get what we want. We expect more than we deserve. We are the worst versions of ourselves when we are online and we are the best thing that has ever happened to your product.

Remember when you started building faster websites because users didn’t want to wait 3 seconds for a page to load? The Internet is what it is today because vocal users got their way.

We have to remain empathetic, while designing to delight. Let’s learn from our users and build them the best possible experience every time.

I’d love to give this talk at SXSW 2016 but I need your help.

Votes are appreciated

SXSW_Platinum-2015-RGBI could really use a few extra votes. I appreciate the thumbs up!
Vote Here ->

What you’ll learn

  • What do users really want and how do I give it to them?
  • When is a user the vocal minority and when are they actually teaching you something about where your product should be heading?
  • How do you learn from the sins of your users and build them a better product?

Star ratings are a recipe for deception

There is a fundamental problem with star ratings. I have no idea how long these reviews have been coming in, and I can’t see any trends.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 9.43.44 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-07 at 9.41.53 AM

Take a look at the Troy-Bilt Weed Wacker above. 765 reviews means it’s been on Lowes.com for quite some time.

With exactly 227 – 5 star reviews, and 227 – 1 star reviews it sounds like a solid 3 star product, but that’s actually really deceiving. It doesn’t mean I’m likely to get an average product that works but could be better. What it actually means is that I have a 50/50 chance of getting a working one.

How can we improve ratings?

Let’s trend those ratings so we can see what’s happening over the lifetime of the product. The data is obviously there on lowes.com so why not use it. If you told me when that 70% of those 1 star reviews were from 3 years ago, then I’d know that Troy-Bilt has obviously fixed a major flaw in the product.  If however most of those 1 star reviews came in, in the last 6 months that would mean something completely different.

article-2284725-184F692E000005DC-449_634x396Geographic locations may make a big difference too. If I’m looking for a snowblower and most of the 5 star reviews come from areas with very little snowfall that data isn’t really helpful for me. I’m more interested in what this person thinks.

Star ratings have been pulling a veil over our eyes for a long time, especially considering how much spam there is. In the end a great return policy makes it easier to just throw out ratings and just try it for yourself. I would prefer that over imaginary reassurance that I’m going to like the product.