Learning by experience 17:27 on Monday

I’ve bashed Nokia phones a few times, but this is not meant to be that kind of post. This is about user experience, and Nokia phones just happen to be the example here…

  • In some of the new Nokia phones there is sort of an introductory video, which teaches the user of the new phone in 15 seconds about how great and snappy the Nokia is.
  • When sending a text message takes 20 seconds instead of one, every message sent teaches me how slow Nokia phones are — which for me is around 400 times a month.

In both cases the user learns something, and the product is teaching the user. Even if the introductory video is not so much for instruction as it is for branding, the user thinks he learns something about the product: the product sets expectations.

When the user uses the product daily, he learns by experience. This is when expectations are either met, exceeded — or shattered. Whichever is the case, the user is left with a lasting impression of the product (and other products connected to it by branding!).

This is the area of user experience that I find most fascinating: the daily, perhaps mundane tasks, where the real opinion about a product is forged. The small difference between something you use without thinking about it and something you like to use. The difference between some-other-MP3-player and an iPod. Somehow I feel this is an area where improvement is easy — and cheap. Yet people smarter than me don’t necessarily agree. Christian Lindholm says:

What is central to Apple’s product making is high level of attention to detail. Product quality is all about the attention to detail. Those details require extraordinary efforts from the people making the products.

Whether it’s cheap and easy or requires extraordinary efforts, pushing the user experience of products from forgettable to something that elevates your everyday is what everyone should be doing.

Thanks to Tina for clearing up my head around this subject. ;)

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