Back by popular demand:
Let Them Pee

Hey there! I was mentioned in this fun article by Greg Nudelman, who shows extraordinary taste when it comes to “UX People.”

And just ’cause, I figured I’d repost the original, now-famous “Let them pee” blurb!

Here you go! (get it?)

Imagine you are sitting in a car in the middle of a long road trip. You really have to pee. It’s all you can think about. Your eyes are peeled for the nearest rest stop. You’re spending all of your cognitive cycles trying to calculate how long you can hold it before the situation becomes dire and you´re starting to weigh the pros and cons of pulling over to the side of the road. It´s bad. Meanwhile, your beloved is sitting next to you, chattering on about how lovely the scenery is. Needless to say, you´re not that interested nor are you being even remotely attentive. Your beloved begins to get irked. Things start to escalate and both sides get irritated, each convinced they are ´right´ to be doing what they are doing.

Why am I asking you to imagine this? Because I think that many visitors to online retail stores are on a long road trip and they have to pee. They have a goal and they want to be successful in that goal; they aren´t looking to be distracted until their goal is satisfied. Perhaps they want those cool sneakers but they want them for less. Maybe they´re trying to find a replacement for the CD they broke yesterday. Maybe their needs aren´t quite as pressing as the one I described above, but they are there nonetheless. And what is their experience at your store? My guess it´s almost exactly like our poor driver´s experience: they´re trying to ignore information that is distracting, annoying, and, as far as they´re concerned, completely irrelevant to their goal. They´re wading through banners and sale stickers. They´re searching through a sea of chattering navigation links. They´re typing something in search and wondering why they didn´t get what they wanted.

Ask yourself: when she arrives at my store, does my customer have to pee and, if she does, am I letting her? Or am I trying to force her to think about things I think are important and interesting about my store? Can I understand the reasons my customer came to my store in the first place, help him or her achieve those goals, and then introduce all the ´wonderful scenery´ when they are ready to listen? Examine the who, what, where, when, and why of the messages on your site. Respect the fact that many customers have something in mind when they arrive and that they´re not looking to be distracted. When they arrive, let them pee. You´ll be amazed how interested they get in the scenery once they´re done.

We need more underpants

I found an old post that I never ported over–it’s from 2006! Remember 2006? That was like…ages ago. But it’s still a good in my extremely humble opinion, so here you go!

“Technology” is totally uninteresting to regular people. And yet, it totally fascinates and terrifies and motivates all of us who work on things that do interest real people.I just read [ed. note: in 2006!]  Christine Perfetti’s interview with Gerry McGovern published in the UIE Newsletter. There’s a super-duper diamond of a gem in it:

Q: Do new design approaches, such as Rich Internet Applications and AJAX, change the way teams design for content?

A: I’m afraid I’m no expert on technical issues. Without technology we’d still be living in caves, but there is always a danger that technology becomes the end and not the means. I tested a series of headings and summaries with 2,000 people in 12 countries. Some summaries and headings never got a single vote. These extremely poor performing headings and summaries had one word in common: technology. I’m wary of web teams that can’t stop talking about the technology. Morning, noon and night, it is the customer you should be thinking and talking about.”
(from The Importance of a Customer-Centric Design Approach: An Interview with Gerry McGovern)

OK, how ridiculously right-on is that observation–and it’s not even an observation, it’s data driven! Why do I love this? Because:

  • these types of headings exist out there. we in the tech world think everyone is interested in what interests us. and it just isn’t true.
  • he tested these headings all over the place and the results were the same.
  • it’s one of the most simple, creative projects I’ve heard of in a long time.
  • it’s the one-sentence equivalent of a smack upside the head.

Also, it’s another way of looking at something that’s been bugging me lately: in two separate consulting projects i’ve had in the last 4 months, I’ve been in meetings where I’ve heard this:

“We need some of that AJAX stuff on our page!” [ed. note: remember, 2006!]

Oy vey. Listen up, all you companies out there. You NEVER need “more <fill in the blank with your favorite technology>.”

Think this doesn’t apply to you? Think again. Any of these sound familiar? And these are in reverse chronological order:

“We need to create a mobile app!”
(An app? or an awesome mobile site? If you don’t handle transactions, I’d argue the former.)

“We need to add community features!”
(Seriously? you’re a bank. who the hell wants to hang out at a bank?)

“We need to do something with streaming media!”
(This was a thing. If you think I’m lying, try being in your 40s for a minute and you’ll remember.)

“We need to use that ASP stuff!”
(1996 was all about ASP. I worked for an agency that specialized in it.)

These statements are the equivalent of screaming “we need more concrete in this building design!”

Technology for technology’s sake is never what customers need. Technology is the platform, not the solution. What customers need is content and tools that will help them achieve their goals. If a new technology is one way to help them do that, then great. If you have to wrack your brain to figure out why adding a schmancy new technical widget will help your customers, don’t do it. There are much better ways to spend your precious resources.Want to add something to your site just for the sake of adding it?

Ok. Add more cowbell.

P.S. check out mcgovern’s home page. how great is it that he asks “Is your website rude? Your customers hate organization-centric content.”

Sounds like he’s just as anti-underpants as I am.

Free Webinar Recording: Ad Hoc Personas for Product Managers

I heart doing webinars. Though actually they are kinda weird…with an audience in front of me I can get good feedback and adjust accordingly. With webinars, I’m the only one visibly reacting to my jokes and puns, and that makes me much more nervous than standing in front of hundreds of people. But i digress.

Here’s the blurb:

Personas can help you (and your entire organization!) transition from thinking ‘about’ users to thinking ‘like’ users. This can have a truly magical effect on your projects; personas can help you nail down your goals, prioritize features, and design delightful experiences. They can also synch right into you agile development process–or any development process, for that matter. As product managers, you are master translators: you translate between the languages of business, marketing, and development, and well-crafted personas create a common language that will help you do your job. The biggest problem with the method is that no one seems to have the answers to the practical questions we all have about creating and using personas. Tamara will show you her method for creating incredibly helpful, awesomely practical ad hoc personas that will actually work…all without you having to do any more research or spend any more money.

Here’s the link to the recording:

And, it’s FREE! Free as a bird! So why not? Sign up, sit at your desk, watch the show, shake your head sadly at the puns…it’s a great way to spend an hour.