Kathy Sierra spoke yesterday at South by Southwest Interactive and shared some wonderful tidbits on how to "woo" users. I took some notes from the session and compiled them below. Kathy started out by saying creating a product:
"Think about ways to make your users really good at something."
She went on to explain by saying you need to work on creating a hi-res user experience. No one is passionate about something they suck at so making it easy to be awesome is a key to creating passionate users.
Creating passionate users is less about natural talent and really is about a talent for practicing. So this goes along a lot of my thoughts on how to be successful at anything you do. While some might have a lot more talent than others it is all about hustling like Pete Rose to get where you want to go. You have to be passionately driven and "want it more." On the Web, I would call it hustle 2.0. Writing blog posts, editing videos and responding to your users at 2 am on a Tuesday is what it is all about. While it probably sounds easier said than done as you won't always be successful and in fact you might fail but such is life.You have to be ok with that before you start or you should not do whatever you are doing.
Kathy went on to talk about understanding users by saying that when you are testing a product you have to see user facial expressions to see if things will work. People see things in facial expressions that help to better understand and read people's minds.
Kathy talked about visualization and said that it actually affects the way users perform. As a former college baseball player I know this works. I used to walk through and visualize experiences in my head. Thinking about the place you are going to be and particular situations. Kathy validated this approach as a way to improve your experiences with scientific evidence.
Kathy thinks randomness is important because it creates serendipity
into a product which wows users. It makes things feel more alive, fresh
and new. Kathy referenced the iPhone and the "bounce" that happens when
you scroll down as it subtly makes it feel more alive, fun and real.
This little bit of movement makes thinks feel more alive and we as
users relate to them better.
Develop products that create joy. This means playful ways to for users to feel joy. Kathy to and referenced Amy Jo Kim in this experience.
Create products that make users talk about themselves in first person language rather than talking about the company. So enabling users to talk about your product and refer to "I" rather than your company.
Kathy explained the "tee shirt first" development which means you need to create a tee shirt that helps communicate your product vision. This is something Guy Kawasaki talks about in his book "Art of the Start" as a crucial piece in the startup game. Create messages via your tee shirts that help to communicate your message. She went on to reference VC Ware shirts.
"Finally, for goodness sake create woman's fitted tee shirts!"
Kathy explains that users like to find easter eggs that make your product fun and unique. She went on reference the book, "Smile in the Mind."
Help users defend your product when it is called a "totally lame waste of time."
Picture your audience as little furry bunnies since we are all prey animals. Fight or flight is something we all have to deal with. If you could help your users to manage stress you will help your users to be passionate about your product. If your users are really stressed they will not really engage with your product. A couple of products that might help include the stress eraser and sleeptracker to help you relax and feel better. She also referred to Brain Age as a way to exercise the brain to increase its performance but the exercise that helps you the most is physical exercise. Think about ways to improve to your users body so that they feel better.
Acknowledge the fact you might take some of people's attention. If you communicate a positive payoff for that partial attention and offset it then users will generally support your product.
If you really want to build a community then you want all your users to become experts immediately. Encourage a culture where everyone is comfortable asking questions. Encourage people to help anwser questions too, which makes your community self-sustaining.
Think about physical objects that people can touch since it offers them something they can own and touch. The brain responds better to things that we can touch.
Kathy referenced this recent article by Brian Solis when bringing Gary Vaynerchuk, from Wine Library TV, as a person that is changing the wine world via the Web on the stage for surprise appearance (as shown in the video below). I think the event on Thursday night at SXSWi is just further validation. To be totally frank with you, Gary is the reason I am at SXSWi this year. He and his brother AJ talked me into it while I was with them at FOWA Miami last week and I thank them for it. It has been an amazing experience.