Kathy Sierra on Making Users Awesome, Part 5

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 the previous sections, Kathy discusses how to help our users to get better at a skill. We can help them practice right, and we also can help them get perceptual exposure.

In this section, Kathy continues the discussion on how to help our users keep wanting to get better at a skill. We can help them move forward with two approaches.

The first approach is to remove the blocks to their progress.

The key question to ask for keeping our users move forward is not, “What pulls them forward?” It is, “What makes them stop?” We need to help our users identify the “derailer” and remove it.

Our product/service serves as a “source-of-pulling” by keeping the users moving on a forward path.

Often there may be another force that is pulling the user away from the path. That force is the “source-of-derailing.”

We need to help our users minimize the impact of the “derailing” force. In other words, we help our users focus on reducing what slows or stops them.

The “derailing” force generally creates two elements, the “Gap of Suck” and the “Gap of Disconnect.”

The “Suck Zone” is guaranteed pain for everyone learning to do something. The “Gap of Suck” is the large, painful gap between our user’s motivating goal and their early experiences in the “Suck Zone.”

The “Gap of Disconnect” is the loss of motivation that occurs after buying our product/service. The users lost the connection between the compelling context pre-purchase and the tool post-purchase. They no longer trust that we will help them with anything but the typical business transaction of the tool.

The solution for combatting the derailer is to “Anticipate” and “Compensate.”

We need to anticipate the most likely faces our users might make and questions they might ask if we were next to them.

We also need to compensate for our users’ inability to show and tell us what they are experiencing.

To help users get through the “Gap of Suck” is to acknowledge it. Everything associated with our support for the beginner should convey the “First Day Sucks, but Second Day Gets Better” message.

The best places to uncover what other things we must compensate for are the online discussion forums.

To do a good job in compensating, do not hide the issue or deny it. Ether fix something that makes that problem go away completely or “Just Tell Them.”