November 9, 2014

How to avoid UX wrecks: don’t make them think.

There’s a 2014 revised edition of my favorite book about user experience (UX). Time has seen an avalanche of changes in the digital world (Duh!) since Don’t Make Me Think appeared in 2000, but the commonsense wisdom embodied in the title is unchangingly true.


Highly recommended.

Most web surfers have only a teaspoon of patience these days (time is the new money yada yada yada), and web searchers (important distinction) have zero.

Surfers can sometimes be leisurely explorers, but searchers have a different agenda, and the clock is ticking. They will give you 4.5 seconds max to verify that the page they landed on is relevant to what they seek. And for those 4.5 seconds, design is a bigger issue than content.

Why do brands get this wrong?

Many brand strategists see themselves, and their prospects, as rational, logical, reasonable, calculating decision makers who study content. Thinkers.

It’s an error, but an understandable one. After all, we all process the world in different ways, and whichever is ours is “normal.” It takes discipline and insight to understand people who process in “abnormal” ways. Poets don’t understand engineers, and vice versa. Millennials and baby boomers practically need translators.

We’ve written often about Quals and Quants, our way of describing two tribes of decision-makers you’ll find in your prospect pipeline. Quants, who make up 1/7 of the general population require more and different information about your brand. Quals, 6/7 of the world, obviously need to be catered to if your brand is to grow.

This is true of all brand marketing, not just digital and mobile. You must accommodate both tribes in your UX strategy. In fact, digital gives you three audiences to satisfy: quals, quants, and ‘bots. The search engine robots are compelled to read every word, the quants are willing to read every (relevant) word, and the quals will read just enough to do two things: trust you, and get the brand story.

Don’t make them think. Make them feel.