Kathy Sierra on Making Users Awesome, Part 4

In the book, Badass: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra analyzed and discussed the new ways of thinking about designing and sustaining successful products and services.

These are some of my takeaways from reading the book.

In this section, Kathy continues to discuss the two attributes for building skills. The first common attribute across all domains in which people become experts is that those experts practice better.

The second attribute is “Perceptual Exposure.” Experts were exposed to high quantity, high quality of expertise. However, being exposed to the example of expertise does not necessarily build perceptual knowledge unless the exposure meets specific criteria.

With a sufficiently large set of diverse examples and immediate feedback, we can train our brains to find a deep, accurate pattern. Our brains begin to detect that which does not vary and gradually discover the deeper underlying patterns and structure.

To design a good perceptual exposure activity, we need to use a high quantity of high-quality examples that seem different on the surface but actually are not.

Good perceptual exposure exercises do not explain. Rather, they create a context that lets the learner’s brain “discover” the pattern.

We need to expose ourselves or our users to that high quantity of high-quality examples, with feedback and within a compressed time.

Perceptual Exposure exercises can fail if we designed it with some of the following flaws:

  • Not enough examples
  • Not enough diversity in the examples
  • Too long a gap between exposure and feedback
  • Attribute or pattern was too subtle for the brain to detect

Finally, we need to sure the Perceptual Exposure exercises do not expose our users to examples of bad by mixing them with the good.

Perceptual Exposure is a way for our brain to pick up the pattern it needs to learn. Adding the element of judgment (picking good or bad) will confuse our brains and slow down the pattern-recognition progress.

The best way to learn to spot “bad” is first by learning the underlying patterns of “good.” In other words, teach people to recognize bad/wrong/errors by developing and strengthening their recognition of good/right/correct.