Note to self to look into creating quality anything. are there common activities that lead to quality? I picture attention to detail, taking the time, continuous iteration, Etc. have to consider the objectivity of quality, can we agree on a definition to even start the discussion? Consider other attributes that go into quality – strength, durability, reliability. Consider products and experiences. Could also lead to conversation about the connection points in an experience.
Trying to further collect my thoughts on a presentation I gave about my experiences designing smart applications. The kind that use lots of math and lots of data to make recommendations to humans. The kind that learns from our behavior and adjusts those recommendations. The kind that can serve as a companion.
In my several years worth of designing big-data-driven projects I have consistently seen people treating the machines like humans. There is a dynamic between users and these systems that cannot be ignored or denied. Well, it could, but I’ve seen strong evidence that as digital experiences get smarter they become more human. This has a very large impact on the trust we place in these systems and that trust is tantamount to their adoption.
We treat machines like they are humans. Our devices are a social actors in our lives. The research performed by Clifford Nass has been influential in forming the presentation of my observations. My working hypothesis is that we treat machines as humans by default and adjust our expectations from there. Our human interactions set the bar for our expectations with digital experiences and if we think through capabilities as if they were taking place between two humans we can solve a lot of the design problems we are, and will be facing as systems get smarter.
I also always have a presentation given by Chris Fahey in the back of my mind. It was one of those “yeah, that’s what i was saying – but you said it so much more clearly!” kind of moments. I have actually implemented the approach and have lots of stories to tell and conversations to explore.
As a start I have explored seven human traits of a successful digital companion that can serve as guidance for designing these systems. If it were indeed a person, these are some traits of that person I have seen in successful systems.
- and a dash of awkward (a trait that truly endears me to these systems)
From a design perspective, there are many examples where having this “human” bar for the behavior of the system has helped come up with solutions. I’ve seen tactical examples, like the best way to implement a “please wait” spinner interaction. I’ve also seen strategic examples where we’ve set the bar for an entire experience on interactions and conversations between an advisor and a client.
I am a big fan of the mobile web strategy at ESPN. I have a home page icon that takes me straight to their mobile optimized site. It’s got a lot of stuff going on, but was clearly thought out for the medium on which it is being consumed.
I’ve grown very accustomed to using the site and haven’t bought a physical newspaper in maybe 2 months. The inspiration for this post was the relative calm I felt while taking in an entire page of NY Giants training camp updates. There was a main article as well as several smaller snippets and relavent info that filled the entire rectangular page. It was the first time i actively thought about the differences in the two methods of sports content consumption.
One is not necessarily better than the other, they are just distinct experiences with the content. It was the calmness I felt that led me to recognize the unease I tend to feel while reading some… most mobile web content. The following may be some of the factors that contributed to my sense of calm.
- It’s completely predictable. Every action and move has the risk of being so costly on a mobile experience. My stresses range from clicking a wayward link to wondering if the screen i am looking at will scroll or flip.
- It’s big… like bigger-than-an-iPad big.
- I don’t have to move my hands to see the whole article. my eyes and brain do all the work to move around the content.
- There are no buttons to grok. There was also no chrome to compete with the content. This is a definite improvement the mobile web can make.
- There’s contextual stuff – I read a whole page with a full article and relevant snippets without scrolling or changing pages.
- it’s black-and-white and low fidelity as far as print goes and i hardly really thought about that fact.
- it’s paper… i think it was a tree once or something
- the fonts show up properly
- i can completely predict what the page when do when i hold it. There was a definite lack of jumping around that articles do on the web as their elements come into the screen. The image suddenly pushing down the article as i am reading the first line and such.
- nothing is blinking…
- bonus thingm – There was zero load time or latency
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