Every Channel that Rises Must Converge
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Every Channel that Rises Must Converge

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Those sweet days of delusion when we could act like our users’ experiences were contained within a single interface on a single device on a single platform are over. And don’t kid yourself, ...

Those sweet days of delusion when we could act like our users’ experiences were contained within a single interface on a single device on a single platform are over. And don’t kid yourself, we’re not going to get away much longer with the comfortable (and just as delusional) concept of “cross-channel” design. There’s only one channel, the user’s, and everything we create is just content sliding into and out of their field of vision. So how the hell do we deal with all that?

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  • Thanks for taking a look at my deck where I talk about the direction our industry is headed with user experience design.\n\nPlease consider following me on Twitter (@uxcrank) and reading my tips for UX pros (http://www.uxcrank.com).\n
  • As a way to talk about where we’ve been and where we’re headed, I needed an experience that the audience might be familiar with and that came loaded with lots of different kinds of information.\n\nPlease consider the typical overnight business trip where you drive from work to an airport, get on a plane and fly to another airport, where you pick up a car and drive to another work-related location and eventually make your way to a hotel for the night.\n
  • Back in 2002, just a decade ago, we didn’t design much that helped this experience. We worked on digital stuff for the workplace, but that was about it.\n
  • Most of us who were around back then agreed to the same shared delusion, that we could do user experience work that focused on a single user with a single device that we could design a single interface for.\n\nA big reason the delusion seemed like a good idea is because that single path to the data is the only one we tended to get paid for, but the larger issue was that we didn’t have the same access to other elements of an experience.\n
  • Of course, that business trip experience was packed with interfaces, but most of them were physical and few connected to one another. We could feed the desktop at work, but there wasn’t much we could do with the windshield interface, signage at the airport, human beings, maps and phones (the ones that only made phone calls.) \n\nAlso at the time, the people that designed interfaces and processes for those physical elements seldom had influence on the design of digital interfaces.\n
  • So fast forward to today where digital design is relevant for most of the business trip experience.\n
  • Of course, the challenge now is that few of the devices and interfaces are particularly well-connected to one another. There are plenty of kludges and a ton of translation going on, but the connections are limited in function and not always dependable.\n
  • The laptop has largely replaced the desktop. Windshields still exist of course, but now they tend to be enhanced with digital GPS solutions. We love our various mobile devices, so that’s become a defining characteristic of user experiences over the last decade. We still involve people in our experiences, but now those people are almost always enhanced by their own digital devices as well. \n
  • It’s not going to take a full decade for this last round of stuff to happen, but it made for a better presentation. The point is that we will have cohesive exposure to our data in the future and that both the individual interactions with data and the overall experience will be designed.\n\nMobile is a fad. I say that because any criteria we’ve used to define it (mobility, smaller screen sizes, etc.) has been blown up by evolving products and usage. But mobile devices have had a significant impact: they’ve stitched together what used to be a series of disconnected experiences and that will define the future.\n\n
  • Thomas Vander Wal (http://www.vanderwal.net) has been talking about our personal infocloud for most of this century and the world is just now catching up to him. Moving forward, user experience design might be about a single user and their interaction with their own data. Devices would become almost inconsequential.\n
  • There are plenty of entrepreneurs hoping that this all leads to a single device for all digital experiences and that might happen. But I think it might go the other way, with public display devices getting used by hundreds of people a day. \n
  • In the middle of the 20th century, if you wanted to buy a drink from a vending machine in Soviet Russia, you might have been asked to drink from a communal glass like this. For most of us, this’ll make you shudder, but it’s a great reminder that humans are communal by nature and can get used to quite a bit more sharing than you might expect.\n
  • It’s possible that we walk around with a device, but that its role is less about display and interaction and more about staying constantly connected to our ever-evolving data, even as we use an almost infinitely complex collection of public interfaces.\n\nThis is a model much more aligned with the chaos of both human choices and capitalism. \n
  • The multiple, mostly physical interfaces of a decade ago became the poorly connected digital experiences of today. Those experiences became possible as connection and chip technology improved mobile devices and those same changes may end up making holistic, digitally enhanced experiences possible. \n
  • I struggle to figure out the right thing to call these things because I’m trying like crazy not to use the word “channel.” Channels were a creation of convenience, mostly because people had to explain what they were spending their company’s money on. You spend a million bucks, it had better be an investment in your “mobile channel strategy” or your long-term strategy for building “cross-channel” experiences.\n\nBut from the user’s side of the experience, the word channel is a joke. There is nothing discrete or sharply defined about a sprawling experience which stumbles and tumbles over digital and physical spaces and devices in pursuit of poorly defined goals and with constantly shifting measures of success and failure.\n\nUsers are humans and their experiences are sloppy and convoluted whether or not user experience designers or marketers want them to be. \n
  • So what the hell do we do about these sloppy, non-channel experiences. Well, it’d be nice to see them somehow, but traditional UX diagrams do a pretty weak job of that. \nAndrea Resmini and Luca Rosati took an interesting first step with their book “Pervasive Information Architecture” where they introduced these five heuristics for assessing the success or failure of these sprawling experiences.\n
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  • Andrea and Luca’s heuristics provide a nice foundation, but they still don’t help us picture this kind of thing.\n\nI’ve got a suggestion ...\n
  • Maybe the next step is to start defining tools that we’re going to use to understand and eventually design holistic experiences. Think of any physical tool --- a screwdriver, a jackhammer, that kind of thing --- they can do three things: build, take apart or fix. We eventually want to build holistic experiences. To do that, we might need to take apart an existing one, like the business travel one I mentioned earlier. Or we could use a tool to improve an existing experience.\n
  • Intent paths are a tool I’ve been tinkering with for awhile. It takes the idea of a first person shooter perspective from violent video games and drops it into the daily experiences of normal people. In intent paths, the interfaces most likely to be of use at a particular moment are stacked up in front of a user. Now we’d like to think we accomplish our tasks by following a straight line through a logical progression of subtasks. But that sort of “happy path” never really happens.\n\nWe stumble through our days constantly distracted by information and especially people. By stringing several of these intent circles together, we can map how people actually accomplish their tasks with a wide variety of devices. Intent paths are a great way to break out of artificial “channel” thinking, where we act like people choose a medium for a task, where in reality they NEVER make that kind of decision. \n
  • These intent paths are good for spotting patterns of use and they help points of interest emerge from no-boundary experiences.\n
  • Experience Patterns are another tool I think we might make use of going forward. Unlike design patterns, these kinds of patterns aren’t solutions. Instead, they define distinct and specific chunks of an experience. It’s like a persona for an element of an experience.\n
  • So if a travel reservation was an experience pattern, what kinds of categories might be included in its description? Well, name of course, and purpose. For key elements, I want you to think a little differently. Something like “purchase” could be defined pretty traditionally, but that would be a shame. In the context of this holistic experience, purchase takes on an interesting definition.\n\nPurchase isn’t a task flow, rather it suggests that our personal data mixes with an airline’s data which mingles with a bunch of other companies’ data and the result is a temporary shift in our identity. We become the guy who will be allowed to get on a plane. It’s changed who we are. As soon as that plane lands, our identity automatically shifts again and we are no longer the kind of person that will be allowed to travel on a plane. See what I’m getting at? \n
  • We’ll want to show some more flexibility when we list key data - of course there’s reward program data and stuff like that, but the identity we just talked about is divorced from Social Security Numbers and birthdates and such.\n
  • We’ll want to show some more flexibility when we list key data - of course there’s reward program data and stuff like that, but the identity we just talked about is divorced from Social Security Numbers and birthdates and such.\n
  • A third tool takes advantage of the intent paths we talked about earlier. \n
  • A third tool takes advantage of the intent paths we talked about earlier. \n
  • A third tool takes advantage of the intent paths we talked about earlier. \n
  • We can study paths and weight their tracking lines based on value. Now for an existing experience, we could base value on volume and get an idea of most popular actions and that would be cool enough. But what about designing a pervasive experience that doesn’t exist yet? It might be interesting to base value on the value to the organization, so a thick line is what you’d like to see people do to best benefit the people that pay you. And we could compare a wayfinding path that the organization wants to happen to a similar existing one to display the contrast between what’s desired and what currently exists. \n
  • We can study paths and weight their tracking lines based on value. Now for an existing experience, we could base value on volume and get an idea of most popular actions and that would be cool enough. But what about designing a pervasive experience that doesn’t exist yet? It might be interesting to base value on the value to the organization, so a thick line is what you’d like to see people do to best benefit the people that pay you. And we could compare a wayfinding path that the organization wants to happen to a similar existing one to display the contrast between what’s desired and what currently exists. \n
  • We can study paths and weight their tracking lines based on value. Now for an existing experience, we could base value on volume and get an idea of most popular actions and that would be cool enough. But what about designing a pervasive experience that doesn’t exist yet? It might be interesting to base value on the value to the organization, so a thick line is what you’d like to see people do to best benefit the people that pay you. And we could compare a wayfinding path that the organization wants to happen to a similar existing one to display the contrast between what’s desired and what currently exists. \n
  • We can study paths and weight their tracking lines based on value. Now for an existing experience, we could base value on volume and get an idea of most popular actions and that would be cool enough. But what about designing a pervasive experience that doesn’t exist yet? It might be interesting to base value on the value to the organization, so a thick line is what you’d like to see people do to best benefit the people that pay you. And we could compare a wayfinding path that the organization wants to happen to a similar existing one to display the contrast between what’s desired and what currently exists. \n
  • The tool I’ve made the least progress on is based on this guy. Do you recognize Hans Rosling and the statistical visualization tool from gapminder.org?\n
  • This is that tool without the cool animation.\n
  • It takes a value in a Y axis, in this case life expectancy.\n
  • And it has an X axis of course, in this case income per person.\n
  • And then the round clusters of data reflect the X and Y coordinates used to created a third variable. And then, and this is the cool part, they animate the data as it moves through time.\n
  • So imagine what kind of cool analysis you could do with pervasive experiences where we use relevant sources for the x and y axes and then we look at it over the course of an experience.\n
  • I have no clue how to make this work from a technical aspect for experiences, but imagine how cool it will be if somebody does.\n
  • So let me know if this fires up any new ideas in your head.\n

Every Channel that Rises Must Converge Every Channel that Rises Must Converge Presentation Transcript

  • Every Channel ThatRises Must Converge
  • Tools‣ Tools build‣ Tools dismantle‣ Tools repair
  • Intent PathsHolistic, user-based map of experiencethat DESTROYS CHANNEL THINKING
  • Intent Paths‣ ID patterns‣ ID points where interesting things happen
  • Experience PatternsDevice-agnostic descriptions of common,discrete experiences
  • Experience PatternsDevice-agnostic descriptions of common,discrete experiences
  • Experience Patterns ervation ttern: T ravel resPa ata for Device-agnosticound ational d of common, des f descriptionsesPurpo se: Provi levant experienc discrete experiences larger t ravel-re Key elements: ilability ‣ Check ava ‣ Reserve ‣ Purchase ‣ Revise ‣ Re ference
  • Experience PatternsDevice-agnostic descriptions of common,discrete experiences
  • Experience Patterns ervation ttern: T ravel resPa ata for Device-agnosticound ational d of common, des f descriptionsesPurpo se: Provi levant experienc discrete experiences larger t ravel-re Key elements: ilability ‣ Check ava ‣ Reserve ‣ Purchase ‣ Revise ‣ Re ference
  • Experience Patterns ervation ttern: T ravel resPa ata for Device-agnosticound ational d of common, des f descriptionsesPurpo se: Provi rn: evant experienc Pat experiences discreteterel Tr larger travel- avel re servati Key dat on s: a: Ke y element ‣ Identit ity Check a vailabil y ‣ ‣ Rewards erve members ‣ Res ‣ hip acc ounts Schedul hase e ‣ Purc ‣ Credit ise card ba ‣ ReDv lance a ependen nd bill ing cyc Re‣ferenc e cies: le ‣ Holiday schedul e
  • Weighted Wayfinding PathsIdentifies potential high and low valuepaths for experiences
  • Weighted Wayfinding PathsIdentifies potential high and low valuepaths for experiences
  • Weighted Wayfinding Paths
  • Weighted Wayfinding Paths
  • Weighted Wayfinding Paths
  • Weighted Wayfinding Paths