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Do You Know What Your Visitor Feels?


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#1 iamlost

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 01:48 PM

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call "The Twilight Zone".
---Rod Serling


This week a column for Search Engine Land (How Does Your Web Site Make Visitors Feel? by Kim Krause Berg, 24 April 2009) showed us a glimpse of such a 'twilight zone', forcing readers to look away from technology and gaze into the shadows where science and mysticism come to play.

I’m fascinated by web sites and how, or if, they affect us emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. As a web site designer, what special power do you hold in your artistic hands? As a blogger, what kind of reaction are you seeking from readers? As a well branded company, are there in-house human instabilities that can be sensed by your online consumers?

...

For months now I’ve been tackling the theory that our online behavior and the actions we take after visiting a web site are somehow tied to, or dependent on, unseen energy forces. It’s not unlike how we physically feel when we’re exposed to people, environments or situations.

...

If you can agree to some extent that there are vibrational fields, auras, energy fields and other unseen forces around our bodies, than you might be interested in some of the research on the “spiritual brain”, neuroscience, evolution of the mind, evolution psychology, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Why would energies matter in user experience design? Do they come into play with marketing and online branding?

...

When you scan Twitter, how do feel about some of the comments made there? Do they make any part of your body feel good or bad while reading them? Do you tense up? Do you bypass users who are always bringing you down?

....

In the book, The Brand Bubble by John Gerzema and Ed Lebar, there is a section on how to create what the authors call the “energy-driven enterprise.” They, too, are exploring energy. They feel that a firm can create a competitive advantage by generating brand, organizational, operational and cultural energy.

Surprisingly the 'mystical' unseen human energies, i.e. chi, that Kim mentions are being increasingly investigated - as real and important forces - by serious science.

Are you familiar with Buddist and Taoist literature?
Have you read The Over-Soul from Essays: First Series by Ralph Waldo Emerson?
Do you know why Carl Jung felt the need for the term 'collective unconscious'?
Have you considered Timothy Leary's '8-Circuit Model of Consciousness'?

Have you perused the many areas of discipline within neuroscience?
Did you know that:
* computational neuroscience gives us Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods, pattern recognition, swarm intelligence (SI), and much much more?

* neural engineering is providing neuroprosthetics? Want a brain computer interface?

* neurolinguistics is shedding light on language acquisition, sentence processing, and speech perception?

* (social-)affective neuroscience studies the emotional brain?
The list goes on and on.

For a more practical webdev take read Roger Dooley's Neuromarketing, Where Brain Science and Marketing Meet.

Medicine is slowly merging the traditions, knowledge, and solutions of east and west. Increasingly science is finding that lore and mysticism have real, practical roots.

People 'know' things. Wives and mothers have known when husbands and sons were killed overseas, or when badly injured and where, often feeling similar pain in the equivalent body area. Why do we immediately like or dislike some people? Why do some places give us the creeps - in broad daylight?

What is 'it' about a website that attracts or repells us? How much is universal, how much societal? How much of such responses is ratiuonal? Emotional?

Currently webdevs run A/B or multivariate testing to find that which most appeals (or at least what most converts?). But. What about those who do not convert - a 30% conversion rate still means 70% not. So we test some more on the remainder, if they are still around.

Wouldn't it be loverly if we had some science behind the demographic emotional triggers of our visitors? Where tests, while not eliminated, could be used to fine tune rather than coarsely filter. Where we actually had some idea, not simply of eye tracking probabilities by of brain paths affected - and what that really means. It is happening and looks to become a deluge of actionable information.

People, including our visitors, are emotional creatures. Forgetting that and treating them as if they were just another bot is not good business.

Welcome to the 'twilight web'.

#2 DCrx

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 06:58 PM

Wouldn't it be loverly if we had some science behind the demographic emotional triggers of our visitors?


And here's my interview on Kansei Engineering, which has been around since the 1970s. I suggest you read the left sidebar.

Microsoft used to offer its own desirability toolkit for download. Everyone has a copy of that, right?

The science is there. You just have to apply it.

Edited by DCrx, 26 April 2009 - 07:03 PM.


#3 iamlost

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 07:55 PM

The emotions (although not strictly emotion in a Psychology sense) involved in KE are about the emotions people would like to experience and not about how they happen to feel on a particular day. The emotion that people want to feel about specific products or services is much less prone to change through time.

I will take some issue with his statement. Findings are growing to support the claim made by Antonio R. Damasio in his 1995 book Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain that emotion is applied in every decision we make, that it is likely that our brain processes emotional and rational inputs in simultaneous parallel. That the frontal cortex then uses the emotions associated with each rational option to make a final choice.

What this means is that it is how people feel, i.e. "emotion in a Psychology sense", at the moment is critical to their decision making process. Not the "emotions people would like to experience". A reversal of the emotional driver behind Kansei Engineering.

The advantage of the Kansei approach is that the desires of the customer, the vision of the design team and the practicalities of engineering can all be addressed during the design process.

What is incorporated into the KE methodology is the stated emotions/desires of the customer. Yet we all know that what people say is not always true. Often they believe what can be demonstrably shown to be false. Or say what they wish were true or what they believe the questioner wants to hear. None of which negates the value of KE. Anything built on what we believe we should believe is likely to be rather good.

What we are beginning to see are real, rather than stated, emotional instances, how where they travel through the brain before being used to weigh rational judgements. Which looks good on a TV science program but doesn't exactly transfer readily to website visitors. Yet these advances serve several useful purposes:
* as proof for many traditional sales pitches. Where before a salesman went on 'feel' and experience. Now we can build up branching sales funnels based on behaviourial research. More 'know', less 'feel'. And less testing.

* a better ability to hook brands and products by deliberate emotional manipulation. It is not only what choices we make but how and how well we remember those choices that can be emotionally hard fixed.

It is increasingly obvious that the difference between a good site and a great site is the effectiveness of the emotional appeal(s).

#4 DCrx

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 08:34 PM

Just like usability, there are ways for desirability design to get beneath what people say to what they will act on.

I've given the example of a survey, where participants were asked to give their opinions on which handbags they would choose. The change was for each participant to choose a handbag as payment for participation.

Survey results didn't match up with sales -- but the handbags chosen did. Now the company still conducts the survey, but only so they can get to the payoff at the end.

It would be fallacious to think all Kansei consists of is asking about the participants emotional response. It's just as much testing based as usability. And there is an range of test data to back it up.

Finally, where products are concerned, emotional response doesn't change that much over time. The iPhones people bought were not returned, after all. In fact Apple just posted its second best earnings on record.

Clearly, on a practical ROI basis, understanding desirability design is cash in the bank -- year in, year out. Boom times and downturns.

The sentimental value of a cherished heirloom retains sentimental value. For instance, you don't hate it on Monday, then love it again on Tuesday ...only to fear it on Friday.

Emotions do go through a lifecycle however. Where the emotional high of buying something goes into a period where buyer's remorse can set in. If not addressed by design, that will produce a product return. And again, the cycle is well known and techniques tested out.

Emotions have predictable stages. Humans aren't random emotion generators.

My question is why on earth have this thread if it weren't so? To simply add to the superficial happytalk with absolutely no test methodology whatsoever? Those who live in glass houses (or in this case, are surrounded by vibrational fields, auras, energy fields) shouldn't start flinging rocks.

I'll show you the Mazda Miata designed using Kansei -- complete with sales figures -- and now you show me products designed by swarm intelligence, and the market results.

I'll take Kansei over The Twilight Zone episode of talking about these topics with no intention of testing for desirability -- and not a clue how desirability design would work -- any day.

Edited by DCrx, 26 April 2009 - 08:59 PM.


#5 iamlost

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 10:42 PM

I'll take Kansei over The Twilight Zone episode of talking about these topics with no intention of testing for desirability -- and not a clue how desirability design would work -- any day.

We are talking somewhat at cross purposes. Quite possibly my fault for 'twilight zone' allusions (my mind likes to zoom all about on tangents) and not being as clear as I might.

Emotions have predictable stages. Humans aren't random emotion generators.

My question is why on earth have this thread if it weren't so? To simply add to the superficial happytalk with absolutely no test methodology whatsoever?

Absolutely. Certainly not.
We are talking apples and oranges.

I'll show you the Mazda Miata designed using Kansei -- complete with sales figures -- and now you show me products designed by swarm intelligence, and the market results.

I'll show you sites designed to be rationally similar but emotionally different - and tell you with reasonable certainty before the test which will entice and hold the greater number of which demographic groups. How can I do this? From my reading and research - and from prior testing.

Remember that many (and certainly all of my) sites are designed around ads and affiliate links. It is imperative that visitors be 'hooked' within seconds, if not milliseconds. Such a short time decision period is heavy on impression and intuition.

When giving a visitor a choice of options, i.e. back button, navigate to another page/site, click an ad or af link, knowing (1) that given equal rational reasons for each that providing an appropriate emotional weight imbalance can influence a visitor to go where I'd like them to go AND (2) knowing reasonably well how to stack such weighting is a serious competitive advantage. At the least it minimises the number of test cases to get it right.

As with most things decision marketing and various neuroscience research hypotheses (or auras and vibrational fields) should not be thought of as singular but as parts of a whole. Which parts one chooses to incorporate in creating one's holistic development methodology is a personal and business model decision.

Just as in physics there are weak and strong forces, in marketing there are immediate and longer-term emotional effects.

The sentimental value of a cherished heirloom retains sentimental value. For instance, you don't hate it on Monday, then love it again on Tuesday ...only to fear it on Friday.

But there was some initial point where an heirloom acquired sentimental value or was endowed with fear. I am discussing the initial emotional weighting of rational thought that created the choice of sentiment or stick in the attic.

I am looking at the mechanics of the choice itself while you are looking at the consequences once the choice has been made. Both have important roles within desirability design, just not likely the same.

#6 DCrx

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 05:12 AM

Like usability in the 90s, most people would say the sites they design were perfectly usable. Yet testing showed a number of problems.

Same with desirability or affective usability. Everybody with a Flash animation splash page is going to swear on a bible they "know" what emotion their site visitors feel.

Testing still tells the dominant emotions are disappointment, frustration then annoyance, and boredom. With the occasional dose of confusion. That's from the design of sites as task centric.

Everything else falls between the P tags and whatever non generic stock content there is. Precious few designs engage the emotions they think they do. Rather, the visitor has certain emotions and the design either gets out of the way, or actively saps any emotional energy. That the user may encounter a Buy button before they are completely drained is the one saving grace in site design today.

Most sites only foster any strong positive emotion in the designer, and perhaps the client. Like another example, the blood red spatter grunge site on black background, it also matters what the client business is: An Orthodontic Surgery Center. Where blood red spatter on black evoked the very worst emotional response you can imagine.

Of course, the designer of the site thought differently about what they intended to do.

In other words, most designers don't even have a notion of how branding works. I think they'd be shocked if they tested for affective response.

Edited by DCrx, 27 April 2009 - 05:14 AM.


#7 glyn

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 05:29 AM

Emotive web, very important...but still very early days.

What ICT has done is take some of the variables that were impossible to extract when studying human nature abd behaviour (take for example the effect of choosing an Avatar in a forum can have in terms of their attributation by other users of Gender, human likeness, and trust: see http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1365312), and placed them in an arena that allows for closer study. I think this is a great thing.

G.

#8 DCrx

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 06:54 AM

an arena that allows for closer study


I would question where this leaves UX design, which wants credit for emotive response but doesn't have the toolset or methodology. What is there is hand-me-downs from usability, very task centric but in no way anything to do with desirability or emotional engagement.

In It's Not Just Usability Joel Spolsky notes the level of emotional intelligence of even social software is stuck on autistic.

While you can tie a note to a brick, hurl it through a user's window, and call that "an experience," it's not an experience you want to attribute to your prowess at design. We need to get away from generic experiences, as boredom and frustration while completing tasks are indeed an experience, and focus on desirable experience users actually want to have.

Edited by DCrx, 27 April 2009 - 09:17 AM.


#9 cre8pc

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 02:49 PM

Interestingly enough, we may THINK emo-web is in the early days but I believe it was always here and we didn't understand what the thing was.

Taking one of the basic concepts in quantum physics, which says "everything is connected", including "dead" material and "live", and digging into the studies on particles, the Zero Point Field and the exchanges of energy we can't see, I think we have a doosy of a topic here.

We're sending particles to each other every second, in many ways. Thoughts are one way. Computers are another. Radio and TV another. To name a tiny few. If you see that one energy field touches another and so on and happens outside even time and space, then I believe humans have developed a communication device that we don't even know how to use yet, but we're using it anyway and wondering what the hell is going on.

For usability, this is huge. For marketing, this is a monster.

#10 iamlost

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 03:25 PM

For usability, this is huge. For marketing, this is a monster.

Maybe. eventually.
Or as DCrx said earlier superficial happytalk with absolutely no test methodology whatsoever.

Without a consistent system of measure we can neither benchmark or test. Granted I do believe there are some useful metrics available, however they are still relatively crude and certainly only touch upon rather than encompass the potential whole.

And given the general webdev obliviousness to basic usability let alone UX design your emo-web is most likely found in a galaxy far far away. But a few of us can dream of quantum transport and boldly going where no one has few have gone before. Up the radical rebel individualists!

#11 cre8pc

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 03:52 PM

I think emo-web is already happening. It goes back to what I touched on in my article, about feeling things.
We do. Some Twitterers are miserable depressing folks who remind me of Eyore, the donkey. We have Status's in Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, Linkedin, Twitter...

I think a study where people sat and stared at status's all day, vs those who aren't subjected to any Internet "I just stepped on a bug" noise would be interesting. Readings on BP, heart rate, and questions like where do you feel a reaction? In your back, stomach, chest? We FEEL things and our bodes are trying to tell us things.

We react to words we read. We react while dreaming. We react while listening to someone tell a story. I think we not only react to Twitter and social networking sites, but some people purposely use our reactions for marketing. Hence, link bait success.

What if we could control our responses? What if we didn't respond as expected?

I have a client who is purposely going to brand his products to a wealthy target market. To do that, he's scrambling to get insight into their heads, buying habits, but also their emotions, what pushes them to buy, what wouldn't, and how can his customers connect to others who might buy? He's approaching it from a far higher level because he's already studied the brain and the physics. We can tap into forces that are always around us if we know what they are and how they work.

#12 iamlost

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:01 PM

Some further reading without being heavy:
* Discovering the Feeling: Applying Neuroscience to Marketing, Mark Weeks and Christine Williams of Added Value Group.
Note: link is to Google pdf to html version due to linking problems. For original pdf file 49KB click link at top of HTML version.

Some of these elements good insighters, marketers, and advertisers have applied instinctively in the past, but now we understand with much greater precision what to do, what works and why.

The thinking challenges traditional research to the point that some may see this approach as threatening to the industry, but we believe that it is the future of insight, branding and advertising.


* Neuromarketing – marketing insights from neuroimaging research, Dr. Phil Harris, University of Melbourne, Australia.

...a group of researchers examined exactly this question, and found striking results. Wine shoppers were roughly three times more likely to purchase wine of the same nationality as background music. Striking enough, but critically, only one of forty-four shoppers interviewed suggested that the background music influenced their purchase decision, and over three-quarters specifically said that the background music did not affect their choice of wine! How could they have been so out of touch with the influences on their behaviour?

...

...in the light of mounting evidence, we must seriously question the emphasis we place on consumers’ explicit thoughts regarding their choices.


Recommended reading:
* Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, Martin Lindstrom, 2008.
--findings from a three-year, 7-million dollar neuromarketing study.

Associated reading:
* Nudge, Richard Thaler, 2009.
* Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping--Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond, Paco Underhill, 2008.
* Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely, 2008.
* Groundswell, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, 2008.
* Brand Sense: Build Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound, Martin Lindstrom, 2005.

Classic reading:
* Marketing Myopia, Theodore Levitt, 2008. (first published in 1960).

Edited by iamlost, 27 April 2009 - 10:55 PM.


#13 cre8pc

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:09 PM

I admit to being amazed that a Sphinn for this topic is completely ignored.

Are these topics too out there?

#14 cre8pc

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:16 PM

iamlost, the first link is a dud. These are great resources, to add to my growing mountain :)

#15 cre8pc

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:23 PM

How does the addition of brand information affect choice? The 2004 research showed that preferences for Pepsi did not change when the Pepsi brand was identified, whereas Coke preferences increased. Branded Coke preferences stimulated activity in a completely different neural system in the brain, this time associated with long-term memory – memory embedded for life. It appears that as consumers experience the flavour of Coke, exposure to the Coke brand image evokes associations that have been stored in long-term memory circuits. Critically, the memory regions are strongly connected with brain regions that bias preference. As a result, associations held in memory influence other brain areas that respond to taste. Thus, the research shows that by examining the neural responses associated with brand effects, we can see the mental mechanics of the strongest brand at work.



Miriam was wondering about some of this...maybe she'll drop in :)

#16 iamlost

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:05 PM

Are these topics too out there?

Yup.
Don't be surprised...basic usability is barely on most folks webdev horizon.

iamlost, the first link is a dud.

Couldn't make the direct pdf link work. So replaced with link to Google pdf to html translation. The pdf link (49KB) is available the top of that page if wanted.

Re your quote of the Coke/Pepsi study: I especially like the Porsche 911 study:

Only 27% of respondents expressed a positive reaction to Porsche 911 drivers and yet, given the chance to be one, 89% said "it would be my lucky day". The disconnect between how the consumers felt about the brand and how they anticipated the brand would make them feel is glaringly obvious.



#17 cre8pc

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:40 PM

Well...your leads to resources, and DCrx's always on top of things responses are much appreciated. The more I dig into these topics, the more I'm amazed at how much I've been missing, and how much more value I bring to my clients with this new information.

:kicking:

#18 DCrx

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 05:28 AM

I was certainly surprised, when I discovered a whole variety of techniques, roughly ten years ago. I dubbed them desirability design. Microsoft figured this out a while ago and so did Jacob Nielsen.

Formal usability tests in a lab setting are an excellent tool to evaluate whether users can complete tasks; however, the technique has not been as effective for measuring intangible aspects of the user experience such as “fun,” “enjoyment,” or whether the product is desirable enough to purchase.
—Measuring Desirability: New methods for evaluating desirability in a usability lab setting Joey Benedek and Trish Miner (©2000 Microsoft)


I somewhat differ on how, but there's a lot of recognition about joy of use.

However, other than a mild "good attitude," emotions are taboo in the corporate environment. Acknowledging emotions exist is a big step.

Introducing new age concepts doesn't help sell the concept to clients. A very thorough methodology, including test methods, does help. Corp-types are skittish enough without giving them a (quantum) push.

Which is why I give the "engagability" folks a hard time. Luckily every week there's a new superficial happytalk term -- this week it's Attunement. The week before that it was something with the word identity in it -- can't quite recall the corruption/Dilbertization of the word. As it meant absolutely nothing, it doesn't really matter.

This navel gazing may be good for getting people to acknowledge what's missing, but to outsiders it looks half baked. Which is why you want to get to where you can say stick a fork in it -- desirability design is done.

There may be refinements and improvements similar to any field, but all the heavy lifting is done.

These people don't help, but they've the attention span of gnats and are attracted by anything shiny and new.

P.S. Just this morning's news featured how absolutely clueless people are about the emotional consequences.

Edited by DCrx, 28 April 2009 - 06:16 AM.


#19 bwelford

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 08:25 AM

... I think those Captology people at Stanford got it largely right but with the wrong language.

For myself, I like the word engagement as a term that many people with a little explanation will 'get'. If your web page is engaging, then the interaction can start, which is presumably the reason for having the web page.

I think the word engagement as a dimension of a web page is a concept that could endure for a few years, unlike some of the guru words that others try to teach us.

#20 DCrx

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 09:23 AM

Well, the term captology has been talked about as unwieldy before. Persuasive design is better.

Engagement is like the word content. Anything qualifies. There is no promise of performance or result.

And engagement has the same recipe for mischief as content does. Where people talk about content being king, but the actual writing is drivel designed to keep keywords from running together and the Divs from collapsing. Content has become the spacer GIF of the modern layout as a result.

Engagement is ...what?

Here's what I would have liked the engagement person to propose: The AIDA formula for what leads a user through the four levels of engagement. Only the final level implies the potential for a payoff. And there can be problems moving from one level to the next.

What I dislike is you can't pin any of these people down. They can never be wrong, because they espouse generalities nobody can actually implement. They take credit for anything positive, but responsibility for nothing specific. Engagement just ...happens.

This is a little too much like flimflam. And sorry, a whole lot of sites seem to engage users but can't pay the bills. With the AIDA formula, you can get some kind of explanation why. AIDA is satisfying where engagement is empty.

Engagement just sorta happens some times and not others. Good word. But a whole lot of mischief.

Edited by DCrx, 28 April 2009 - 09:29 AM.


#21 bwelford

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 10:09 AM

Here's what I would have liked the engagement person to propose: The AIDA formula for what leads a user through the four levels of engagement. Only the final level implies the potential for a payoff. And there can be problems moving from one level to the next.

... four levels of engagement. I believe we are in agreement, DCrx.

We have acknowledged above the difficulty in really getting to grips with what people are really feeling. However back when I was involved in advertising market research some decades ago we would do surveys to measure levels of awareness of ads and interest. As mentioned previously you can do research to get consumers real desire and actions. Don't we here have a framework for analysing metrics and improving on our web designs.

#22 DCrx

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 10:31 AM

Don't get me started with surveys and focus groups. However, it's a methodology. You can discuss surveys and focus groups. You can, as I did earlier in this thread, modify and improve the method if you don't think it's as effective as it should be.

And you can go out and conduct a few, and see how the methods work.

Whatever the method, you get one step closer to handling lame objections, false excuses for doing nothing, and on to work.

Edited by DCrx, 28 April 2009 - 10:34 AM.


#23 iamlost

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 11:29 AM

I have said this before - we tend to talk about things in isolation that, except for narrow scoped researchers or hyped business models, are applied as contributory parts of a whole process. This is especially true of 'new' perspectives or practices.

Think of how we divide up and discuss webdev: (x)HTML, CSS, graphics, video, flash, javascript, PHP, accessibility, usability, analytics, etc. We tend to discuss each separately or as the interaction of two yet development is pretty much everything working together. At which point we discuss the conflicts between two and the failures of each. However, both the methodology and the result are as holistic as developers are capable.

In large part, for marketers, what neuroscience, with all those brain image test results, has produced can be split into two: (1) confirmation of belief/practice and (2) repudiation of belief/practice. The first is good to know. The second is pure competitive revelation.

There certainly is a lot of neuro-marketing snake oil babble - think of the past few years and the silly things SEOs and SM marketers spouted (and still do). Yet behind all the hype there is real opportunity. Neuro-marketing may lead to something we recognise in and of itself or it may be absorbed by existing methodologies. Kim's emo-web construct may remain a whole overarching entity or be divided up among other disciplines. It actually doesn't much matter.

It is the mindset that matters. The mindset of the webdev, the marketer, the executive. Is it closed or open, holistic or splintered. And whether there are tangible results. Does increased usability positively impact the bottom line? Do neuroscience findings lead to new marketing insights/behaviours that increase profits?

Engagement is like the word content. Anything qualifies. There is no promise of performance or result.

Sad but true.
However, one can set out both qualitative and quantitative metrics for both. That few do says much about the impulsive nature and poor business sense of most webdevs. I do love a competitive advantage.

I kept wanting to quote huge sections of what DCrx has said. I agree, I agree, I agree! However, I still see valuable nuggets among the flimflam, some that I have incorporated into my process and others I'm still testing or considering. Adding new elements to an existing methodology is not always an easy task.

I have a great luxury in that I am pretty much done, I add very little (relatively speaking) to my sites each month. So I have the inclination and the time to play with the weird and the cutting edge, taking a bit from here and a dab from there and making like a web alchemist. If I was still in the site development stage there simply would not be the time nor the ROI to play around the fringes. Especially when just following current best practices puts one way up on one's competitors.

Most fora are not open to blue sky thinking. I do so like Cre8 and the members herein.

#24 DCrx

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 07:40 AM

Of course, it's always nice to discuss specifics about how you would go about affective UI design. One good example, is Whichbook.

Most book searches assume you already know pretty much what you want. They are essential online vending machines. The assumption is, as long as you're explicit enough and logical enough, the UI is easy to use.

However, what about a book for the beach? What if you want to support a certain mood. The web pretty much tells this kind of user to get logical or get lost.

For the current web audience the logical/explicit interface is fine. And the emo-UI is strange. That's all well and good. Until you study the role emotion plays in decision making, specifically shopping behavior.

Talking about this is all well and good. When it comes time to implement my guess is something like whichbook will not pop up to the top of any list of client suggestions.

Yet when people talk about being the "next fill-in-the-blank" big thing, you don't get there by being a clone. Clearly the logic/programmer web filters out the emo crowd, however should there be UI design with more emotional intelligence, you might find a hidden segment of the market.

Edited by DCrx, 29 April 2009 - 07:43 AM.


#25 iamlost

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 12:34 PM

An interesting little addendum to our conversation. Roger Dooley has an article today, Superhero Super-Priming on more research demonstrating the possibilities of 'priming'.

Priming comes up frequently here at Neuromarketing, not least because it demonstrates the power of the subconscious to influence behavior. I described one of the better known examples in Priming the Customer - merely unscrambling sentences that contained a few words suggestive of age (”wrinked,” “gray,” “Florida”) caused subjects to walk more slowly as they left the room and headed for an elevator. If that isn’t startling enough, the new work showed that similar priming could have both an immediate effect but also an effect months later! And, though I know I’m starting to sound like an infomercial announcer, that’s not all - the behavior modified was much more significant than walking speed.

I am a believer in the value of priming due to two real life examples from my early adult life. The second was the salesmanager for a manufacturer whose products I retailed. Over a dozen years of after business meals and drinks he provided a fabulous informal sales education, a surprising amount of which concerned word choice and emphasis, that with appropriate priming closing rates skyrocket. It was during those conversations I realised that years prior basic training had been full of priming. The training sergeants were experts at priming, at using words to generate desired behaviour by both individuals and groups. Combined with group dynamics a powerful mix.

What research such as this does, besides support what is already known/practiced, is provide better parameters and greater understanding. Given that not all webdevs come from a practical customer sales background the finer grained the available literature on how to drive conversion funnels the sooner, easier, and more prosperous their endeavours. For a given value of research.

Edited by iamlost, 30 April 2009 - 12:35 PM.


#26 bwelford

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 12:45 PM

This brings to mind a phrase I coined some years ago, We never know what others see. We are all clearly primed by our own individual experiences, so we each see our own individual perception of any given situation. There's no guarantee that yours is the same as mine, even though we may appear to be superficially similar.

#27 iamlost

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 03:07 PM

Yet another somewhat tangential iamlost excursion:

Webdev conversations tend to throw terms around, sometimes incorrectly, sometimes merely differently, i.e. an experienced general webdev may assign a broader meaning to website optimisation than a noob or an SEO specialist.

One such term is conversion, associated others are the compound conversion funnel and conversion percentage. There are those who correctly point out that profit is the ultimate business touchstone and denegrate the tendency to use conversion in it's place. And while, yes, conversion is not profit, conversion funnels are the clicktracks that transport visitor to value (not necessarily revenue), conversion percentage is a representation of the efficiency of such journeys, and conversion itself is a measure that can be used for several purposes including determining various costs of doing business; it is a family of metrics that can be used to predicate profit.

Most discussions of conversion funnel treat it as both serial and linear as in filling and submitting a form. An ecommerce shopping cart is perhaps the most complex of this type, a series of forms, while a newsletter signup requesting only an email address (plus the email opt-in link) one of the simplest.

However, visitors do not all walk the same path to the same end. Indeed the very nature of websites, each page offering a number of links to a number of elsewheres, works against such straight travel. This is particularly true of content sites, which are my main experience and current interest. Few forms and certainly no shopping cart.
Note: there may be data collection for af form auto-fill but that is more an exception.

Here every public IRL is a start point, every conversion an end point. And every link between a step on the journey. A step forward, back, to the side, or even out. Can you catch a glimmer of how critical this makes carefully designed site architecture, thoughtful navigation, and considered content links? Of how critical understanding the demographic breakout of your traffic, their requirements, and what their referers (your IBLs) may tell you about those needs? Of how critical that your site answer those questions/concerns easily? And how that brings us back to SA and internal link design?

DCrx has previously mentioned AIDA(S):
* Attention/Awareness: get the visitor's attention, make the visitor aware.
* Interest: increase the visitor's interest by emphasising advantages and benefits.
* Desire: transform visitor interest into need and desire.
* Action: lead visitors to an action call and encourage to act (conversion).
And sometimes:
* Satisfaction - satisfy the customer such that they return and/or recommend.

You likely noticed that every AIDA(S) step calls upon persuasion. Your site needs to persuade them to look, persuade them to take an interest, persuade them to feel a need, persuade them to act, persuade them to come back and to tell others. Viewed from this persuasion perspective the sales process (where most sites are situated) becomes a buying process.

Rather than merely creating (and optimising) linear serial conversion funnels, restricting/confining visitors open things up. Start predicting, i.e. clicktrack analysis, typical visitor buying behaviours and look at removing barriers and adding whatever help is necessary to aid them upon their buying journey.

This is a very complex complicated weaving. Your conversion goals; their buying purposes; various external factors, i.e. competitors, SERPs, word of mouth; your sitemap (more precisely how your sitemap illustrates flows and restrictions), your content, especially as how it works vis-à-vis AIDA(S); etc.

Now throw in the ads and af links that are conversion goals. If contextual ads are page related then how much of a successful funnel is within that page? What does that page need to present both content and ad/af value to the visitor?

Most webdevs rely upon 'gut' instinct, experience, and testing to improve conversion percentage. Many/most neglect to include determining conversion cost. At what point, what conversion percentage is the breakeven point? Yes, one can have a great looking cp and still lose money. Remember, conversion is not profit.

The same neglect (or ignorance) is common in analytics usage. A great deal of data is prettily shown via colourful graphs but often it is not subsequently analysed for productive responses. Just as one analyses shopping carts looking to optimise traffic flow and decrease dropouts so too one can analyse clicktracks to see where and understand why visitors stopped the conversion journey.

Understanding your demographic groups is key. Few act without emotion. They are far less Spock and much more Kirk or Bones. Herein lies the power of personas. And so we gather up our tools of understanding: instinct and experience, empirical testing, personas and scenarios, and research both direct and indirect - including neuroscience.

And never forget the Magic 8-Ball.

Some further (easy) reading about conversion, especially funnels and particularly persuasion.
* Using a Conversion Funnel, Bruce Clay Inc.
* Conversion Funnel Folly, Part 1, Bryan Eisenberg, ClickZ.
* Conversion Funnel Folly, Part 2, Bryan Eisenberg, ClickZ.

Website design is a true holistic undertaking for the site-visitor ecosystem is both complex and dynamic. Understanding behaviours is crucial because as they change and they will, simply knowing what works now or did before does not guarantee tomorrow.

A good part of that understanding is being affected by neuroscience research. I have to say that about a fifth of the reasoning behind my conversion funnel logic in the past few years is derived from the findings of such research. And it looks likely to increase.

#28 DCrx

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 06:37 PM

This is a very complex complicated weaving.


Yep.

And so we gather up our tools of understanding: instinct and experience, empirical testing, personas and scenarios, and research both direct and indirect - including neuroscience.


Yep Yep.

Keep in mind, while I am an advocate for AIDA, the engagement person could have espoused LIME JELLO (provided that was a similar acronym).

On emotion's role in decision making, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied people who had received brain injuries that had had one specific effect: to damage that part of the brain where emotions are generated. In all other respects they seemed normal - they just lost the ability to feel emotions.

The interesting thing he found was that their ability to make decisions was seriously impaired. They could logically describe what they should be doing, in practice they found it very difficult to make decisions about where to live, what to eat, etc.

Most decisions are not clear cut logic problems. Emotional weighting offers a mental shortcut to tedious and sometimes convoluted logic. Blink and Don't Make Me Think could have been a direct path to just the kind of design we're talking about here.

Point being, emotional design can happen -- if you want it to.

#29 projectphp

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 11:19 PM

Can I ask: what is the "sweat spot" in this sort of thing? I mean, Obama can make two people feel very different. Ditto the Pope, the colour blue, kittens for a child attacked by a cat, doctors for someone who had failed surgery etc etc.

I really loved (ok I still love) http://www.searcheng...nding_paths.htm where Ammon tries to provide contingencies for different buyers of the same thing, but even then, it is really hard to make everyone happy, and I wonder what the right level to aim at is.

Specifically, I wonder whether standing out (which inherently means being hateful) is better than being stock standard and inoffensive. It is kinda like TV where a show 0.1% of people love (Arrested Development) gets canned whilst shows no one loves but everyone can sit and mindlessly watch (reality whatever) stay alive, because a viewer is a viewer, no matter what they score the show out of ten. I reckon that not bad enough to bother changing the channel is often TV makers goal, rather than brilliance, and with good reason and incentive.

So, what is the goal or sweet spot: Brilliance and love or mild indifference?

#30 DCrx

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 09:11 AM

Specifically, I wonder whether standing out (which inherently means being hateful) is better than being stock standard and inoffensive.


American Idol might be a better example. There are plenty of shows which stir up emotions which are not canceled. Arrested Development simply had a core audience which was too small.

If you're talking about an example more people could relate to, try Apple. Nothing gets the emotions stirred up more than the Apple and the Apple/PC thing. So much so, Apple developed a very successful campaign around it. And in true Microsoft fashion, copied by Microsoft.

Not long ago, Amazon tried to relate the star ratings to product sales. Five star rated products weren't predictive. U-shaped ratings -- lots of 1s and 5s -- sold more.

Basic Emotional Design 101: Hate isn't the opposite of love -- indifference is.

The vast majority feel the corporate milquetoast approach is the safest. In the off-web economic reality of location, location, location, this works. On the web, where the competition is one click away, it's career suicide.

More companies become behemoths because they're first, not because they are unemotional. And Amazon is also a good example of the unemotional web -- it's a vending machine on steroids.

There are multiple paths to being a success, and emotion is one, being first is another. Nowhere is trying to be unoffensive the key. Being unoffensive is an option of weak-kneed political time servers maintaining a corporate behemoth (quite probably in its sclerotic final stages). Milquetoast doesn't get you there.

If corporate milquetoast products and services did ever work, it was in the quiet past of the ever-expanding economy -- not the turbulent present with its hyper-competition. Today, fostering emotion isn't risk, it's safety.

This objection is far more about unpreparedness with fostering an emotion in others than what makes a company successful. Want a brand? Sorry -- that's emotion, not PhotoShop. Want a loyal customer and not a fickle consumer buying exclusively on price. Sorry -- that's emotion. Want shoppers to spend more and buy more, not get what they came for and get out. Sorry -- shopping is emotional.

You can have indifference as your user experience. You just can't be in competition with an Amazon or a Microsoft or Walmart and expect long term survival based on indifference.

Milquetoast design is a luxury few but the biggest can afford -- but the payoff for the corporate behemoth is great. Because upstart companies mistakenly believe what the behemoth is doing now was what got it to where it is. That's like seeing a satellite and thinking it was created in orbit.

Take Domino's. It got big with a 30 minute delivery or it's free policy, which was jettisoned when it achieved bigness. That says everything about weak kneed political management, and nothing about entrepreneurial business development.


Related:

Customer Satisfaction Is the Wrong Measure Want to sell desirability/emotional design to clients? here's your starting point.

A Quick End to the Cult Series That Lived Up to Its Name "The Bluths are deliciously self-centered and absurd, the dialogue is quick and corrosively funny, and yet "Arrested Development" is not addictive. It is possible to fully enjoy one episode and not feel compelled to see what happens next."

Strangely enough arrested development would be the perfect name for a web design firm today -- still stuck on 2Advanced and making Ajax do Flash with Mootools.


Ford Taurus: Car of the future is now history This is a nice moral about how a standout emotional design (note the "surprise and delight" philosophy) abandons what made the design a success, becoming a stock standard, inoffensive -- and in so doing a discontinued model.
http://community.sea...ug=lasttaurus03

How this craven political CYA became a recipe for success is quite in fitting with the Twilight Zone Episode theme.

Apple just posted its second best earnings ever in the second worst economy in modern times. What makes Apple a success? Utter cluelessness about emotional design in the competition.

Edited by DCrx, 03 May 2009 - 10:06 AM.


#31 iamlost

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 10:28 AM

:rofl:
Don't be shy, DCrx, tell it like it is, let it out...

Can I ask: what is the "sweat spot" in this sort of thing? I mean, Obama can make two people feel very different. Ditto the Pope, the colour blue, kittens for a child attacked by a cat, doctors for someone who had failed surgery etc etc.

The 'sweat spot' is that damp area discolouring your shirt underarms... :)

You have to take the time to get to know your visitors. To differentiate your traffic. To identify demographic groups. Every site in every niche is different. While that makes life difficult it also means sites are not (usually) all fighting over the same folks.

Just looking at the people mentioned in your quote it should be obvious how to design a site of 'personal' interest for each. The same is true for SEs, their algos differentiate them as much as kittens and spiders.

Of course one can address many such differences, as Ammon's example illustrates. How you actually do it, where a particular site-traffic sweetspot is, is normally a matter of research followed by testing. And retesting as new ideas arise or traffic changes.

Remembering that a focus, such as it remains, to this topic is emotion I will mention one possibility: build appropriate emotion into every page to attract the interested demographic group.
Example: site about dogs.
Consider varying colour and font by content, i.e. use primary darks and red on a page about pitbulls, pastels on a page about toy poodles. Research can suggest the demographic groups most likely to own each dog breed. Research on those groups can suggest colours and writing style that will attract (or enrage) each.

Further emotion can be 'called up' to attract and challenge and engage different groups. Think of two articles on pitbulls: one straessing their good points, one stressing their attacks. Think of the reactions of two very different communities to each. Consider how the graphics and video can (de)emphasise written content.

Almost all websites are too uniform. While I am a great believer in the efficiency of templates that still leaves the power of CSS to 'customise' individual page appearance while retaining template advantages.

Often the sweetspot is what you make it.

#32 DCrx

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 11:39 AM

It's probably not a bad thing to "do the emotion thing" when writing about desirability design.

One thing we forget is, at with a customer base made of different segments, each segment can have a different dominant emotional motivator. And just because they are different, doesn't mean several different emotions can't work to the advantage of the candidate, product or service.

Logic dictates you have emotion (binary 1) or not (binary 0) and the one emotion is the "right one." Which is why desirability design frustrates purely technical reverse engineering. And that's one of the reasons why business is attracted to branding.

They're not comfortable with intangibles design mind you, but they still want the payoff. Which brings us to the relationship between branding and desirability design.

Dan Herman explains in his book, ‘Creating Emotionally Significant Brands’: “The
popularity of "Emotional Branding" and of ESP (Emotional Selling Proposition) is
often based on the erroneous assumption that emotions can be simply 'glued' to
brands by means of advertising. In other words, this kind of Emotional Branding
is faking rather than making emotionally significant brands. It creates look-alikes.
The symbolizations, the advertising, the packaging may evoke emotions and
impress the untrained eye, but the brand will lack genuine feel appeal to its
target consumers.
-- Discovering the Feeling: Applying Neuroscience to Marketing


As long as design is synonymous with superficial decoration, branding will be largely an exercise in futility and unpleasant realizations. Design isn't appended onto products and services. You brand through design.

In another thread there was some indication brands are losing strength. More like people have forgotten what branding really is. Or the people who want to disconnect branding from any responsibility for results (while taking full credit for any positive result) have been successful.

I know what my answer is: Aesthetics + Benefits + Identity = Branding through design.

Most web design today is branding: Web 2.0, the designer who created the site, or Adobe -- not the product or company the client paid the designer to brand. So visitors fall in love with the layout, and go to a tutorial site and buy PhotoShop or hire the designer.

Generic stock photos "brand" iStockPhoto. Wendy the Snapple lady brands Snapple. There are more cameras in existence than any time in the history of the world. Try pointing one at an employee or the product. Here's an idea, the copy can refer to the graphics and the graphics can support the copy. Magazines managed this a century ago, and it'd be nice for web design to catch up. Example: Jewelboxing

Design Noir, or what UX wants to be when it grows up. People love to throw around the word viral marketing -- they just don't have the faintest idea of how to design for viral. A voucher worth 40% off wine and champagne -- intended for suppliers of Threshers -- leaked onto the web. The illicit nature of the move made the "mistake" all the more effective.

Thresher thinking makes a case the so-called leak was instead a bold marketing move.

If it was a mistake, it's not marketing or design ...it's a mistake that happened to turn out well. If the voucher was designed to be leaked, then it would be brilliant viral marketing.Threshers understands design noir. If Thresher's extended this to service or product design, it's design noir, hackability design.

Chipotle's new logo means nothing -- despite what they say in color astrology -- but as a signal of its food with integrity manifesto it's desirability design. It's meant (design means you intended for a specific result) to help people feel good.


Related:

Empathic Design Methods in HCI design tools for improving your design's emotional IQ.

Edited by DCrx, 03 May 2009 - 12:39 PM.


#33 iamlost

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 01:01 PM

Here's an idea, the copy can refer to the graphics and the graphics can support the copy. Magazines managed this a century ago, and it'd be nice for web design to catch up.

Because many/most people view the web as 'new' they presume it must be 'different' without considering where it might be similar to things existent. And so they needs suffer through reinventing the wheel. Of course one takes competitive advantage wherever one finds it.

I know what my answer is: Aesthetics + Benefits + Identity = Branding through design.

For that one needs know one's
* self/business/purpose,
* (unique) advantage(s)/offering(s), and
* (somewhat) understand the connections between the mind, the emotions, and beauty.
What human percentage do you expect meets this specification?
What business percentage do you expect meets this specification?

I do have a serious question:
Given that one can have both a corporate (or general) brand and product (or specific) brands to what degree does 'target audience' enter branding through design?
Is it included within the scope of the three (Aesthetics, Benefits, Identity) or is it a separate consideration?

Thankyou for providing the terms 'design noir' and 'hackability design'. A quick search shows that while familiar with the concepts there is a huge amount of interesting reading to flesh out my current vagueness. I have added Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects to my next book acquisition list.

#34 DCrx

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Posted 03 May 2009 - 01:47 PM

What human percentage do you expect meets this specification?
What business percentage do you expect meets this specification?


I could take a wild guess, but I will instead ask for some fleshing out of what percentage refers to. Knowing one's competitive advantages, or developing the understanding of them, is probably not going to get you fired. I can't say the same for abject ignorance of your competitive advantage or unique selling proposition.

As for branding the company, the product, either or both, it's all about coherency -- the flipside being brand dissonance. If the parent company has a brand completely at odds with the product, eventually that is going to work against successfully branding that product. Modifiers would be like if the product line brand is a division within the company or there is real distancing -- like an acquisition given full independence.

Same thing where the design contradicts the advertising. The bigger the contradiction, the worse you should expect positioning and resulting sales to be. So, for example, if your bottled water company is going green and the product is really not, that's a difficult path.

Rarely to consumers see products and divisions as disconnected bits the way product managers and corporate does. Nor, from this point of view, do users see discrete disconnected features. Rather features working together, behaviors, carry more weight.

Apple is rather good at coherency. GM is rather bad at coherency judging from the Volt in contrast with the Hummer. In technology, everyone else sold convergence devices: cell phone/camera/kitchen sink. Apple sold the iPhone which is not a camera phone. The contrast is a chimera product customers are told is a new product category called a smart phone, versus a phone that get interaction design right.

In other words all the other companies talked convergence, Apple developed a convergent device where the camera, phone, browser disappears into a new fusion where the components disappear.

One is a bucket to dump features into. The other seamlessly integrates both hardware and services so it seems like a new product. One is brand teflon, the other is branding through design.

Edited by DCrx, 03 May 2009 - 01:52 PM.




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