In August, we shared with you our submissions for SXSW 2014. Here we are eight months later and I couldn’t be happier to share that all of your support paid off. Right now, I’m in Austin taking in the sights and sounds of SXSW and getting ready for my very first SXSW Interactive session, titled “Time: The Invisible Design Medium.”
During the session, I will be discussing a new design process I developed at EchoUser called the CAPTivate Framework. It’s a four-step design framework to help interaction designers and developers incorporate the most important medium for their users, time.
Not taking a user-centered design approach to engagement too often leads to interrupted users and missed opportunities for interaction. That’s why I created the CAPTivate Framework. As interaction designers, we have the responsibility and opportunity to redesign how people spend their time. It’s time…and, we take that seriously.
In case you’re not in Austin but want to learn more about the CAPTivate Framework and how designers can use it, here’s a breakdown:
Step 1: Choose an Activity
Write down all the activities someone does to engage with your service. Once your list is created, pick an activity you want users to engage in more frequently.
Step 2: Determine its Context
With your selected activity in mind, we then need to map that activity to time. To do this, identify all the moments in the user’s life that they might engage in that activity — can they do it at home, at the office, in transit, when they’re talking with their significant other? These are all contexts in which the activity could take place. Brainstorm as many as possible and choose the one you want to target with your design.
Now you’re armed with your activity and context, and you are ready to select a target for engagement. For example, you could be targeting exercise at home, or writing documents at the office.
Once you have an engagement target, you need to think about how you can add features to your product or service to influence people to more frequently engage in the activity/context you are focusing on in your design. That’s where plans and triggers come in. But first, an interlude to consider barriers…
Interlude: Identify Barriers (and design ways to overcome them)
Taking a page from our existing user-centered design playbook, your next step is to identify the barriers that are preventing users from engaging in your target activity/context at the frequency that your business and your users desire.
Some barriers are ability barriers, such as not knowing a good home exercise routine or having exercise equipment at home. In this case, providing tools and information could remove the barrier and increase the frequency of engagement.
Some barriers are motivation barriers. Pinspiration features are a great way to increase motivation, as are social features. With a complete view of context, including barriers that may need to be addressed, we can move on to Step 3.
Step 3: Identify Triggers (and design new ones)
Triggers are events that cause a person to switch activities within a certain context. It could be a notification, or something more subtle.
According to Stanford Professor BJ Fogg’s Behavioral Model, B=MAT. Behavior is a function of motivation, ability and triggers. So once you have removed ability and motivation barriers, all you have left to do is trigger the user to get them to do your target behavior.
Step 4: Identify Plans (and redesign planning activities)
Plans are activities that people do ahead of time that result in them switching from one context or another — for example, an IM conversation with a friend is a planning activity that could determine where those two people end up in the evening: they could end up at a restaurant, a movie theater, a gym, or some other “context.” If you’re working on a restaurant-oriented service or an exercise-oriented service, there’s a lot at stake for you in that IM conversation, so designing that planning moment is important for increasing your engagement.
When to Design for Engagement
You can use the CAPTivate Framework exercise when you’re designing new features, so you’re designing for increased engagement right out the gate, or you can do it later when you’re optimizing existing features for growth.
If you’re at SXSW and want to learn more, I hope you’ll be able to attend my session tomorrow. You can find all details here. Those of you who took this year off can follow along with the hashtag #TimeDesign.
Let me know your thoughts on the new CAPTivate Framework in the comments below or on Twitter, @boazgurdin and @Echouser.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeremy Ashley (@jrwashley), VP of Applications User Experience (UX) at Oracle. He has over 18 years of experience in UX, and he is passionate about technology and always looking for new ways to improve people’s lives. When it comes to wearables, he owns Galaxy Gear, Pebble Smartwatch, Google Glass, Fitbit, and Jawbone Up. He shared his experience with the wearables and insights on what goes into providing a good user experience for such devices.
Jeremy Ashley (left), VP of Applications User Experience at Oracle, talks to Ultan O’Broin (@ultan), Director of Applications User Experience at Oracle. Photo by Misha Vaughan, Applications User Experience at Oracle.
Jeremy’s Own Wearables Experiences
According to Jeremy, “wearables allow us to interact in a very casual way.” He said he likes how Pebble, Google Glass, and Galaxy Gear let him quickly glance at notifications to decide whether or not he needs to respond immediately.
To draw a contrast, Jeremy first took his phone out of his pocket. It took him a few seconds of shuffling in his chair and struggling to reach into his pocket to pull out the phone before he was able to look at it. With his Pebble, he was able to glance down at a new notification in just a second. And he was able to do it without drawing attention as he quickly glanced downward at his wrist.
Jeremy prefers his Pebble because it allows him to see important notifications in a more subtle way than Google Glass and also has longer battery life than Galaxy Gear.
Google Glass is his next favorite wearable. While showing me a lovely photo of his daughter smiling naturally that he had taken with Google Glass, he said, “I cannot get a shot from this angle with a traditional camera.” In addition to the the camera and video on Glass, Jeremy said he also values the ability to access Google search hands free. As an example, he pointed to a situation where he wanted to access information on the internet while working on a home project but his hands were covered with grease.
As downsides of using Google Glass, he mentioned the need to maintain a link between his phone and his Google Glass and to charge Google Glass every three hours. He also got a fashionable pair of prescription lenses made for it, but Google Glass came with a bulky case that takes up a lot of space in his bag. Overall, Jeremy said the effort spent on the upkeep of Google Glass currently negated its value for him as a device he could use all the time.
Designing User Experiences for Wearables
Based on his industry expertise and experience with wearables currently on the market, Jeremy shared some insights on what it takes to design a good wearable device product experience.
1. The utility of a device has to outweigh the effort of using and maintaining it
“Like any other device, a wearable needs regular maintenance,” Jeremy said. “For example, if people want to buy a Pebble, they are committing to charging it, and updating the software, apps, and the phone.” He said that the benefits the device provided had to outweigh the costs of the upkeep for it to be useful. In Jeremy’s case, he feels that the time and effort involved in charging Google Glass and maintaining the data connection with his phone were not compensated for by the benefits that the device provided him.
2. Keep social implications and context in mind
Jeremy provided an example from his personal experience of how wearing Google Glass in public affected others’ perceptions of what he was doing:
“I wore Google Glass to a conference last year. In the elevator, people started asking me what kind of things I could do with it. I noticed that a guy next to me was wearing a nametag indicating he worked for an insurance company. So I used his work as a use case. I said if he had a Google Glass, he could take photos of accidents to file with the claims when visiting his clients. His face became serious as he asked me ‘How can you tell I work in insurance?’ He thought Glass had pulled out some hidden information about him just by looking at him.”
Jeremy also gave me an example of the importance of social context in using wearables:
“I wear Google Glass around my coworkers, including when I socialize because it is accepted in my circle. However, when the social context changes, users are expected to behave in a certain way. I don’t wear Google Glass during private meetings even with another Google Glass user, especially so in meetings such as appraisals where a high level of privacy is involved.“
From a design standpoint, Jeremy said it is also important to understand cultural implications because the social context can vary in different cultures.
3. Know people’s preferences and physical limitations
According to Jeremy, wearables need to be designed to fit in naturally with our behaviors and our physical limitations. For example, despite all the different tablet sizes that have been tried, only 7 inch to 11 inch screens are now common since users found them to be the most usable.
5. Wearables don’t need to do everything
“We seem to be forced into a culture where one device has to do everything,” Jeremy said, “but in reality, we use multiple devices throughout a day to be productive.” He told me that he uses a Livescribe pen, iPad, iPhone, computer and other devices throughout his day, and he uses a cloud documentation service and email to collectively keep track of all his work. The Pebble is also now in his work routine to provide notifications in a discreet way. His point was that a wearable can find a place in our lives if it can fill a need and work in tandem with other devices.
Wearables in the Enterprise Space
Jeremy said wearables are useful not only in the consumer space but also in the enterprise space and industrial settings. He provided an example of how Google Glass can help a user be effective in some job situations because of the way it is designed, allowing the user to work hands-free and to collaborate remotely with others:
“Consider a Google Glass use case for engineers who repair aircraft. With Google Glass, they can access manuals hands-free. They typically go in with a big manual and clipboard. They could substitute these with an iPad but their hands are not free either way, and it may be hard to find a place to put the iPad down while working. Also it is difficult to climb up and down ladders while holding things. With Glass, both these difficulties disappear.
“Another scenario is two engineers working collaboratively. One engineer could be working in the engine area and another checking the specs and keeping an eye on the accuracy from a remote location.”
Jeremy pointed to today’s fragmented device ecosystem as one challenge to wearables in the enterprise space. He said that more and more companies are building their devices on top of different or forked operating systems and as an enterprise customer it is a challenge to find products that are supported across platforms. For example, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Google are all trying to build out their ecosystems. If you have a Samsung Galaxy Gear then you have to get their smartphones to pair it with. Apple devices play well with each other but not with Windows or Android devices. He concluded, “Unless there is an industry standard, which device do you choose to use and support?”
Jeremy showed me that many of the same user experience principles that apply to mobile and desktop design also apply to wearables, but wearables also need to be designed with their unique social implications in mind. Another important insight from him was that the benefits of using a wearable should outweigh the effort of maintaining it. Talking to Jeremy convinced me that wearables are here to stay and will only get better at enriching lives for consumers and enterprises alike.
For More Information
For more information on Oracle’s work in wearables check out Will You Be Wearing Your Enterprise Application Data? and Learning to Build a Wearables User Experience from Mickey Mouse
For more information on EchoUser’s user experience research and design, visit EchoUser.com
February was a short month, but there was certainly no shortage of stories to get us at EchoUser talking about experiences and design. From Mobile World Congress news to stories about maps and public transportation, here’s a round-up of some articles that got us talking over the past month:
- How Geographically Accurate is Your City’s Subway Map?, John Brownlee, Co. Design — From redesigning subway maps in more inventive ways, to how public transportation could be re-imagined, to the future of keeping commuters engaged, we saw lots of public transportation design talk in February — and we especially liked this post about visualizations of subway maps vs. the actual city grids they’re hypothetically representing. Taking public transit is an experience many people participate in every day — and one close to our heart — so we’re always excited when this topic hits prime time. Check back next week for some deeper thoughts on this subject.
- Some Thoughts on Being Flat, Jessica Holt-Carr, UX Magazine — Ever since Apple’s iOS 7 release, flat design hasn’t spent a day out of the spotlight. Many, including some here at EchoUser, still question whether shedding the skeuomorphic was right. Holt-Carr provides an interesting take, suggesting that skeuomorphism was a bridge between our older, physical metaphors and new, digital metaphors we’re now creating. Skeuomorphism is a crutch we no longer need.
- Pacemaker: a Groundbreaking DJ App for iPad, Powered by Spotify, Kyle Vanhemert, Wired Design — Music is the lifeblood for many, and while we’ve been bombarded with thousands of listening apps, music creation has not seen the same innovation. But Pacemaker is different. As Wired points out, “With a brilliantly simple UI, it’s not just a DJing app — it’s DJing reinvented for the touchscreen.” This is a great example of putting your users’ needs first and working backwards to design an app that meets them.
- Samsung Galaxy S5: New Design and a Fingerprint Scanner, Leslie Horn, Gizmodo — The Samsung Galaxy S5 dominated headlines following its launch at Mobile World Congress in February — and with good reason. The phone offers a fingerprint scanner that not only opens the phone (a la Apple’s Touch ID) but unlocks hidden data and completes transactions with just a touch. It also has a built-in heart rate monitor that, when paired with an app, turns it into a fitness tracker. Is this the start of even more devices authenticating to us individually by capturing our own unique biometrics?
Want to see what’s been making our list all year long? Check out all of our Spotlight on Experience posts.
What made your watch list in February? Hit us in the comments section, or @EchoUser on Twitter, to keep the discussion going!