Kathy Sierra on Making Users Awesome, Part 7

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 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 second approach is to examine the elements that can pull the user forward.

To help users stayed motivated, we need to give them two things: progress and payoff.

We know what to do with managing the progress. What can we do about the payoff?

Kathy suggests that we need to provide ideas and tools to help users use their current skills early and often.

By asking the question, “What can they do within the first 30 minutes?” we seek to lower the initial threshold for “user-does-something-meaningful.”

However, fear can derail users before they start. If we want the users to feel powerful early, we need to anticipate and compensate for anything that keeps them from experimenting.

We can give users the ability to try things and provide them the information and tools to recover from their experiments without breaking anything.

The ideal user path is a continuous series of loops, each with a motivating “next superpower” goal, skill-building work with exposure-to-good-examples, followed by a payoff.

The best payoff of all is those intrinsically rewarding experiences when the users celebrate the experience reward for its own sake. Two kinds of intrinsic motivation can be powerful.

The first kind is the “High Resolution,” where the users develop an appreciation for increasingly more subtle details when others cannot perceive.

The second kind is the “Flow” where the users are so fully absorbed in a stimulating and challenging activity that they lose the sense of time.

The users need to reach those high-payoff goals for themselves, but we can give them some tips and tricks for the domain to help them get there faster.

The tips and tricks are not convenient, cut-the-corner short-cuts. They are about helping the users bypass the unnecessarily long way. We do not want our users to spend too much time reinforcing beginner skills. We need to help them to make progress on their paths continually.