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Tools for Enchantment: 20 Ways to Woo Users, Kathy Sierra at SXSW

kathy sierra at sxsw

I missed Kathy Sierra, from CreatingPassionateUsers, when she spoke at FOWA in Miami, so it's awesome that she presented at SXSW (Note: this is a transcription, so please excuse the grammar and run on sentences):

"Better than chocolate, better than sex." Even if nobody really MEANS it, what would it take to craft experiences our users would describe like that? In this new follow-up to creating passionate users, we'll look at tools that can help take us there (including some fun science). We'll cover some new, some retro, and some counter-intuitive techniques to take Cognitive Seduction to the next level. Best of all, we can do a whole lot of user wooing without having to change our product."


Kathy asks us to do four things. The first is, what is it something that you really would have loved to have been. Mine is to have been a professional soccer player at the highest level. My neighbor's was baseball. Kathy's was being a great horseback rider.

Last year, she asked us "Why are you here?" If you're making applcations that don't make face to face meetings necessary, why are you all here?. Last year we said, to make better apps, we must compensate for the missing "human-ness".

So, how do make users say "this kicks ass." Would you rather a person say the company or the product kicks ass? The secret answer is, you need to help the user have a user where they're kicking ass.

The Hi-Res User Experience.

If you know more about music, the more you hear. For example, Tantek says he looks at the world differently after he started climbing elevn months ago. For instance, he builders the Knight Concert Hall, the SXSW center, climbed the wall at the 16bits party in order to get past the hour-long line ...

Neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, researched by Elizabeth Gould, who found out that animals generate new brain cells in rich environments. Being good at something is not about natural talent, it's about a talent for practicing. People who put in the time. If you put in the time, you will become really, really good. Richard Restak says, "we need a rage to master."

So, What do you help your users kick ass at?

1. Use telepathy. VS Ramachandran. It started with a monkey. There are two flavors of mirror neurons. One is being able to read facial expressions. You have to be able to see people's faces. You're not thinking what other people are thinking, you're actually simulating what's going on in someone else's brains. The other flavor is motor neurons. You feel the movements. When you see some action, a party of your body experiences it. We get this by watching other people, so we can understand what the other user is feeling, thinking, going through. And the more you've experienced something, the better you understand. This means you have had to feel your user's pain ... or skill. Also, you can actually sit in a room and practice by visualizing. The way that you visualize matters. If you imagine seeing what you would see, that's better than seeing a picture of yoursef.

2. Serendipity. Our brans are pattern matchers. We try to find reasons for things. There's a serendipity curve. Add randomness, for example "the staff pick of the day."

3. The Dog Ears Design Principle. If your dog shaeks their head , the ears follow the head. Think about how things move. Fluidity turns the brain on.

4. Create Joy. It's important. The brain needs play. Pay attention to Amy Joy Kim and Liz Danzico ("frameworks").

5. Inspire first-person language. What can I do to cause users to talk about themselves, rather than about the company or its products? Passionate users talk more about themselves, using first-person language. "I kick ass"! People talk through t-shirts (so make a women's fitted tshirt!).

6. What does being your user say about a person?

7. Easter eggs and other treats.
Read "A Smile in the Mind".

8. If your users are passionate, they will justify their passion by recruiting new users. Help users defend to other people this "totaly lame waste of time."

9. Reduce their stress. Think about ways for your users to manage stress. They can't be passionate if they're stressed.

10. Exercise the brain. Read "Brain Age". Plain old physical exercise is one of the best ways to exercise the brain. Geeks are coming late to the notion "I have a body and I can do things with it."

11. Give people superpowers, quickly. The company "Electric Rain" has a motto: Users Must Do Something Cool Within 30 Minutes.

12. (missed it)

13. Speed their knowledge acquisition. Get them up the knowledge curve. Are there shortcuts? For example, chess masters have an ability to recall from just a glance at a board which game it was. But if you show them a random board, they won't remember it. So what is it that experts know, really? One of the top Go players in the US became an expert in a very short time

14. Make your products or services reflect people's feelings. Add a button: WTF? Marketers have a twisted, ideal, stereotyped view of what their customers feel like. It's the difference between "oops" (they love you) vs. "those bastards!" (your users hate you).

15. Help with reinestment of mental and physical resources into new problems they can solve that will help them learn and grow more. The expert never shrink the size of their lists, they just keep adding new stuff to do. Communities do this too. Encourage your communities to take on more challenging tasks. Give people the chance to focus, to devote all of their attention to things. Think of "Attention Offsets" ... If you consume partial attention, give them something that will consume full attention.

16. Create a culture of support.
There are no dumb questions. Give people a chance for people to become mentors at a much earlier stage, before they are experts. But more importantly, there are no dumb answers. Encourage people to answer questions, even if they're incorrect. Get them talking. Don't destroy people for a wrong answer, tell them it's ok.

17. Do not insist on "inclusivity". Passionate users "talk different". They use jargon. You say one word, and people who were there with you get it. Don't make advanced people friendly to newbies, but do give new people a place to feel safe.

18. Practice Seductive Opacity. Mystery. Anticipation. Curiosity. Michael Lopp: "It's not secrecy, it's theatre." Diane Ackerman "Deep Play." There is a resurgence in things that are real and tangible. It is impossible to see your Amazon delivery box and not smile. Just having it on your doorstep makes you smile and the delivery guy is a sex symbol! (It's all about the package! haha ;). And people document the unpacking! Elexctirc Rain says "the experience of getting and installing a product should feel like receiving a gift." Etsy is huge. Make is huge and growing. It's not "boomer nostalgia."  Think about the fact that people have senses. Studies show people who petted rabbits had lower cholesterol.

19.5 Do what this guy does.
This is the best and motivating story Kathy has seen. Welcome Gary Vaynerchuk! (He was also in Miami for FOWA). Everything Gary does is about mirror neurons. Gary gives people a higher resolution wine experience. He says "Most people in the wne industry are douchebags. Wine is fundamentally broken in America. Try different stuff. Stop drinking Yellow Tail, people, you're killing me!"

The last thing we're asked to do is to "keep in touch" by touching the shoulder of the person next to us.

March 9, 2008 in Social Media & Networks | Permalink


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