Category Archives: Interactions

Tool tips – When should design explain itself?

My Hacksaw and Stapler basking on the lawn

Should a hacksaw or staple gun need a manual?

Mine have permanently moulded instructions to help get the most out of using them.

Handy hints built into my stapler

This hacksaw pre-dates the internet by 20 years, but look at all those tool tips!

This sort of thing has become commonplace in the digital world too. Hover your cursor over any button or tool  and you’ll see prompts, tips, guidance, explanation etc. as you explore and use websites, software and devices.

Tool tips could help you find this remote New Zealand surf spot

Whether you’re using software or a saw and need that extra ‘tool tip’ …you’re generally alone, doing your own thing … so what about when you’re around other people… Can we learn by watching others?, does the ‘how to’ of using things travel by osmosis in a social or group situation? or, in other words – do people become the tool tips?

In the physical world, it seems this is true, as I noticed on a Sydney train recently.

These Sydney train seats can be switched to face either direction

You could argue the train seats should have a ‘tool tip’ to show that they can be reversed, but there’s also something satisfying about discovering it for yourself, or through watching others.

…My latest UX research project is for a multi-user ‘touch table’ designed for an exhibition space. The content is navigated by individuals and groups with a similar emphasis on ‘discovering’ how to interact with the environment, rather than being signposted at every step.

Often things in the physical world help explain user behaviour in the digital world and I’m thinking this train seat scenario might be a good analogy… but despite how much more natural it feels to be facing forward when getting from A-B, few passengers actually do change the seating around…

So, I wonder…

  1. Would a visual cue take the satisfaction away for the few to improve travelling for the many?
  2. Do people suffer performance anxiety the first time they try to move the seat? (I waited until I had an empty carriage)
  3. Are those ‘in the know’ motivated to share what they’ve learned, or do they keep it to themselves?
  4. Are we more likely to make these ‘discoveries’ in the physical or digital world?
  5. Is it possible to move through a digital journey facing backwards?
  6. Is it more valuable to discover a feature by serendipity, or to learn by observation of others?

I’d like to hear of other scenarios where people learn how to interact with a product or service purely by watching others…

…Do you know of any?

The tip of the User Experience iceberg

Some websites provide more of an experience than others, but the number of web agencies and even individuals who offer User Experience in their list of ‘services’ indicates there’s a chunk of lip-service being paid to what has become an almost industry-specific buzzword.

Although many techniques and approaches to UX have been honed and made popular during online projects, if New Zealand businesses associate User Experience only with making a well considered website, the power of taking a user-centred approach will be diluted and practitioners risk limited uptake from business in the design/research/strategy of their other channels and customer touch-points.

There’s so much more ground to cover and value to offer away from the web and I hope I’m not alone in my ideal that businesses and organisations should involve customers in the planning and design of all facets they interact with, on and offline, physical and virtual.

Tell me I’m not alone…

Prepare to be disappointed. Customer service in an over-subscribed city

I’m en route to London and am bracing myself for the reality of ‘the nation of shopkeepers’

London shopkeepers’ best intentions to deliver great customer experience are challenged under the weight of the massive demand. With this volume of customers to serve, there’s no time for the personal touch.

And from a shop workers viewpoint, why bother? It’s a constant anonymous flow of customers and tourists you’re very unlikely to see again.

I’ll soon get used to this, lower my service expectation and be delighted if I even get a hello at the checkout. When your sights are set so low, it’s amazing how little is required to make a difference.

In New Zealand, good sales staff will greet you with a smile, look you in the eye and seem genuinely interested. Often you feel like you are the only customer in the shop or on the phone, you have their attention and it even seems personal.

When returning to NZ from a global metropolis I really notice our hometown advantage, and it takes some acclimatising. “why are they so interested when I’m just buying the milk?”

I’m already looking forward to the first few trips to the shops on my return.

The price of cookies when booking your flight

Air New Zealand’s current advertising cheekily claims their fares have nothing to hide…

have you ever checked flight availability and prices then returned later to make the booking only to find the price has risen?

This happened to me using Air New Zealand recently, only when I went to make the booking using a different browser I was offered the original, lower price.

When the website cookie policy states;
‘will track website usage patterns’ and ‘display content more relevant to you, based on information we collect when you visit our websites’

…does this really mean;
‘We’ll offer fresh sales prospects our best price, then bump it up depending on how interested you appear to be?”

What’s going on here?

Raising the price creates a sense of urgency, encouraging us to ‘buy now before the fare goes up, or worse, sells out’ …a cheeky tactic. …but discovering you could have paid less, and have potentially been duped out of your dollars certainly doesn’t encourage customer loyalty.

The message in the advert initially sounds promising.
Upfront and transparent pricing through the browsing and booking process is something that keeps people coming back.

So, How appealing is it to use the features of myairnz if you’ve got the feeling you might be better off masquerading as a new customer?

Kiwis love a good deal offline, but do we need to delete cookies, or switch browser to ensure that we’re being presented with the best prices online?

Trademe changes age-old roadside selling behaviour

The ubiquity of Trademe in New Zealand is well documented but this ‘advert’ changes the way we do things.

Not long ago a roadside for sale sign would include make, model, service history, price etc. …but here, it assumes that you’ll simply go to the website, enter the make and model of the car and all the info will present itself.

This assumption places a heavy reliance on trademe’s search function,  but is there a way that Trademe can leverage this behaviour to it’s advantage, and to the advantage of it’s customers?

For each roadside sale, a printable A4 sign could be auto-generated for sellers to print and display.

These could include unique barcodes so that mobile devices with cameras could be instantly taken to the auction web-page and place a bid on the house, car, boat etc.