Understanding Uncertainty


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Auckland Web Meetup 2008 - riffs and rants on the theme of "User logins must die"

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Understanding Uncertainty

  1. 1. Understanding Uncertainty AK Webdesign Meetup . November 2008 Mark Rickerby http://maetl.coretxt.net.nz/understanding-uncertainty
  2. 2. The Cargo Cult What if all websites had the same audience, goals and requirements? There would be a common pattern for signups and entering a username and password to log in Oh...
  3. 3. The Problem with Frameworks “Ronco Spray-on Usability” - John Gruber When technology dictates, the design cannot adapt to the actual psychology of the audience It's not always admitted that software reuse propagates design assumptions along with the code
  4. 4. The Problem with Frameworks Personalized interaction and authentication are different things Justification for many CMS products is “not reinventing the wheel” Invariably, you ask for the wheels and they give you the whole damn vehicle
  5. 5. Linguistic Relativity The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: “different languages yield different patterns of thought” Each language is an agreement about how the world works A more extreme interpretation: “reality is determined by language”
  6. 6. Limiting Language? The term user is ubiquitous throughout the webdesign community Utilitarian implication that someone is using a system as a tool to perform a physical task But mainly, it's people who are communicating
  7. 7. Limiting Participation?
  8. 8. How We Don’t Think Normal people don’t have access to the geek vocabulary Many designers and developers think that a signup form or a login box is “self-explanatory” Is that really the case?
  9. 9. How We Don’t Think These “self-explanatory” patterns actually yield subtle differences between each implementation “Do I enter my username or email address?” “I forgot my password” “I signed up and it worked but I can't log in”
  10. 10. Anti-social Impulses Designers, developers, and business owners are often obsessed with control without realizing it People don't care about your “benefits of registration”, you are wasting their time and getting in their way “Not another password I can't remember for another site I don't care about”
  11. 11. The Ni-chan Paradox Topix.net research: “Registration keeps out good posters and attracts trolls” http://blog.topix.com/archives/000106.html
  12. 12. The Ni-chan Paradox Sociological side effects: “People with lives will tend to ignore forums with a registration process” “Anonymity counters vanity” “If someone is interested in destroying a forum, a registration process only adds to the excitement”
  13. 13. Cognitive Effects “A cognitive bias is a person's tendency to make errors in judgment based on cognitive factors” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases How people really think
  14. 14. Cognitive Effects Common examples: - Losses loom larger than gains - Not invented here - The “I knew it all along” effect Human decision making is seldom rational Fear and uncertainty drive most human interaction – online is no exception
  15. 15. What Does This Mean? Design for how people actually behave Use these cognitive biases to your advantage forget “benefits”; instead, let people start something, then threaten to take it away!
  16. 16. Gradual Engagement Make everything public by default Treat people differently, depending on how long they have been using the site for
  17. 17. Gradual Engagement Use “social” features to teach people step by step how an application works stackoverflow.com Badge system helps identify how to use the range of features of the site
  18. 18. Learning By Doing Game designers understand this better than web designers You learn a game by exploring and testing the limits
  19. 19. Learning By Doing Games teach you the skills you need as you move through each level
  20. 20. Websites Can Learn Too Even if you use the common signup pattern, it doesn't have to feel like you are: huffduffer.com/signup/
  21. 21. Thank You Use your design and development powers wisely! http://maetl.coretxt.net.nz/understanding-uncertainty