Darius, ECD DESIGNER Simon, CEO PSYCHOLOGISTDarius Pocha Nomensa’s Executive Creative Director and a designer.Simon Norris Nomensa’s CEO and a psychologist.The Nomensa way: Psychology + Design = meaningful interaction.
Why ﬁdelity matters: Good with users, bad with clientsWe want to share with you our latest thinking about how to improve not only the experience for users but for clients too!Imagine how much better the overall relationship and experience could be if we as designers, shared the same understanding of what is meaningful with ourclients and their customers.The way we see it: this is not the idea but an idea something we would like to share with you and discuss.We have been actively following this approach for almost a year and it works! That does not mean its perfect.The stakes are high but the rewards higher so we will feel its worth it and hopefully you will too!
So why does everything matter?Speciﬁcally, I think its fair to say that every single one of us believes that experience matters and that our work as Experience Designers can make a realdifference. We have the power to make a difference, wow! Now, I also think we can all agree that is pretty cool!
A photo from the amazing APOD website http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120212.html showing the Orion Nebula.It’s an amazing image and one that as we look at it more deeply we start to question ‘what it means’. On the surface we see all the stars, dust and colour but it hasmuch deeper signiﬁcance for all of us - we cannot stop ourselves from questioning its meaning, its beauty, its signiﬁcance.
The Birth of Venus (Botticelli) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus_%28Botticelli%29The painting is over 500 years old and is held in the Ufﬁzi gallery in Florence.On the surface it is a beautiful Renaissance picture but it has deeper meaning and that is also open to interpretation.
The Necker CubeWe are driven by so many factors many of which remain beyond our conscious awareness and control. In fact, we may not even know or be able to explain oreven articulate why we like or dislike the things we do - we just do!Whats interesting about thinking in this way is that it led me to a very simple idea. That, I actually need meaning. I know I am constantly seeking meaning. Mylife would be empty without meaning. I look for meaning in everything I do and that means the things I think and the things I feel. Dont you?When we look at the cube we see it transform before our very eyes. It does not change (move) but it does! We experience the change not just as a rationalethought but as a feeling. We recognise we have control. We can ‘affect’ the way we feel. Don’t you feel something when the cube changes?
Do you see 10 dots or a line?This is the power of the law of similarity. We group similar objects together and we do it instinctively and without thinking.This process is called ‘autopoiesis’.
AUTOPOIESISWe have the ability to generate meaning from a complex amount of information both internally and externally.Meaning never asks for an invitation. Meaning arrives when it is ready. Remember the Necker cube!
Surface Cognitive Factors Thinking, Reasoning, Decision-making, Meaning Logic, Recovery, Attention, Perception Deeper Emotional Factors Meaning Surprise, Anger, Happiness Fear, Love, Acceptance, Perception, Expectation, Disgust, SorrowIceberg Model of meaning.Meaning can be broken into surface and deeper components. As with an iceberg what is observed above the water line may be but a fraction of the icebergbecause we know there is a much bigger bit sitting below the water line. There are natural interactions that happen between what we think (surface) and what wefeel (deeper): they also affect each other.We have to be able to understand and design what is meaningful at the surface level if we are to evoke the deeper meaning which typically brings about ﬂow anddeeper engagement.
MEANING Centred DesignWithout meaning our lives would be meaningless. The same holds true is true for experience design. If we are to design authentic and engaging experiences wehave to map out what is meaningful not just for users but for our clients as well.We call this approach meaning-centred design and it requires looking out beyond the horizon of the traditional research and design methodology we can all toooften get quickly locked into; it requires a lot of patience and a little bit of faith, in ourselves.Everyone is seeking meaning so let’s seek it together.
Strive for perfection in everything we do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it. Sir Henry RoyceA quote by the brilliant Sir Henry Royce quote.Everything can be designed, even meaning!
Good with users, bad with clients.The topic of this talk is ‘good with users bad with clients’ and I just wanted to explain to you what we mean by that, why we think it applies to the digitalindustry in general (and experience designers in particular) and what we might all be able to do about it.I stress that this is not a fully thought-through philosophy, it’s more a collection of ideas that we’re working on. We want to put it out there because we thinkthere’s a worthwhile debate to be had amongst the experience design community.At the heart of this is where our focus as Experience Designers tends to be: on the conversation that happens between our client and their customer. We’revery focused on making that optimal, we perceive that as the fruit of our labours. The problem is that in doing so we often ignore the importance of theconversation that goes on between our client and ourselves.The thing is that it’s the conversation between client and agency that is the platform for creating a great end-user experience. All the research, all the insight,all the design thinking and doing is wasted if your customer doesn’t FEEL what you’re expecting their customer FEEL.So we concentrate C & U and ignore A & C.In practice that means that C & U is likely to be compromised.Probably not crap. But not transformative, not peak. Not what we all want to achieve as practitioners.
The two image represents an optimal state, whereas, in reality it is the second image that typically represents the outcome and leaves us feeling a little bit ‘meh’!
FIDELITYThe other thing we talk about in the title is Fidelity. What do we mean by that?Well, ﬁrst I want to try and draw a distinction between information and meaning. By ‘high ﬁdelity’ I don’t just mean something that has a lot of information in it,I mean something that’s meaningful to the audience.Here’s an example: imagine you’re hearing a piece of music.It’s coming through the wall from next door and is very mufﬂed. You get a basic idea of the rhythm and the general cadence of the music but it’s notsomething you could hum. It doesn’t mean much.[Play the music clip]Now listen to it again. Imagine you’re walking past a building site and it’s playing on the radio.[Play the music clip]It’s not very high quality but there’s a massive difference in meaning. There’s enough ﬁdelity to the music for you to decide whether you like it. You mightstart whistling the tune, remember some of the words. You could say that this is the minimum level of ﬁdelity you need for it to become meaningful to you.Now listen to it at MP3 quality.[Play the music clip]There’s a lot more audio information. This is the minimum ﬁdelity copy you want to own, where you can hear everything clearly, it’s good to listen to, you canhave it on loud and enjoy it. It becomes part of your music collection. Part of the texture of your life.Now if I had a hi-ﬁ audio system here I could play it to you at CD quality. There’s a lot more audio information again but unless you’re a hi-ﬁ nut it’s probablynot going to be that much more meaningful for you. You could say you’ve passed the point where you’ve made the maximum leap in terms of ﬁdelity vs.meaning. In fact today the vast majority of us are happy at the MP3 level of ﬁdelity.
So for any kind of information there’s a sort of ‘meaning space’. Let’s say this is our piece of music. Below a certain point there’s not enough ﬁdelity for youto really get it, to feel it.Here’s the point where you start to feel it. Here there’s another jump in quality where it becomes more meaningful to you. And here’s the point beyond whichany additional ﬁdelity is adding a minimal amount to the experience.Imagine this is a piece of work you’re delivering – it might be a user journey, or an interface concept, or an interaction design, or a campaign concept or apiece of copy – whatever, the same thing applies.
Low vs. High Fidelity LOW HIGH fast time-consuming fail safely fail hard encourages collaboration rewards singular vision not very meaningful very meaningful
1. What’s the best start point?2. At what points do we get a spike in meaning?3. Where’s the point at which we start to get diminishing returns?4. Where should we stop?
BarnardosThis was done in a particular setting. We had all the key decision makers on the project in a room together. It was a fast turnaround project with a singularpurpose – increase donations during Christmas. We also know them well and helped architect their current donations journey.So here the optimum start point was to draw quickly on a large sheet of paper. It was fast, easy to iterate, it didn’t matter if we screwed up and mostimportantly it allowed everyone to collaborate – they could just grab a marker and get stuck in.
Nicole FarhiThis is the minimum level of ﬁdelity that would be acceptable, anything less (e.g. wireframes) would be meaningless.
This was an unusual piece of work – a £30m company who wanted their ﬁrst proper website. The main stakeholders are the owners, neither of whom have anyexperience of commissioning marketing or design services.So here the optimum start point was to actually deﬁne what their proposition was because they’d never really articulated it publicly. Interestingly, our next step was toprogress to wireframes and despite the fact that our guys nailed the research, architecture, content types and journeys ﬁrst-time out we had a lot of trouble gettingagreement from the client because they didn’t really ‘get’ wireframes.I’d argue that this is actually a much more common experience than most practitioners in the UX industry are willing to admit.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?We’re obsessed with rules for productivity and effectiveness but rules are for beginners. The best craftspeople act on instinct.
A sketch of a girl on a swing - it has meaning, but it’s not that meaningful.
The girl is on a swing and it’s a lovely sunny day, she is happy and having a lot of fun. The meaning is increasing.The image cuts to video of the girl actually swinging in slow motion. She is experiencing joy and we can see that and fully appreciate it. The meaning conveyedhas a much greater level of ﬁdelity.