Kathy Sierra on Making Users Awesome, Part 10

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 previous chapters, we learned from Kathy that we should our users train their brains to pay attention. Our minds continuously try to filter out spam/noises, so we need to work hard in making our tasks not get caught in the brain’s spam filter.

Even more so, we need to create situations where the user’s brain will think the tasks to be significant enough for the brain to care to interact with it.

  • We want our tasks to be something the brain will care about.
  • We want our tasks to be something the brain will pay attention to.
  • We want our tasks to be something the brain will want to remember.

Why? Because …

  • The brain cares about things that cause a feeling or an emotional response.
  • The brain pays attention to things that are odd, surprising, and unexpected.
  • The brain wants things resolved so that it can remember the answer/outcome for future reference.

Most marketing content is more learnable and memorable than most learning content for good reasons. The critical difference is that marketing focuses on the compelling context, while the manuals and learning content focuses on the tool.

It is no wonder that the brain chooses to remember the marketing messages because it considers those messages with the emotional response are more worthy. The learning content that is about the tool becomes more of emotional-flatline spam that the brain wants to filter out.

Kathy stated, “The best way to deal with the brain’s spam filter is to reduce the number of things that need to get past it.” This means we should strive the deliver the learning and the knowledge to our brain in a Just-In-Time fashion.

Unfortunately, Just-In-Case is the predominant model for most forms of learning. To the brain, the Just-In-Case style of knowledge can seem useless and like spam.

Not every piece of knowledge can be delivered in a Just-In-Time style. There will be some Just-In-Case knowledge the user must learn before they need to use it. For those pieces of knowledge that the users don’t know but need to know before their skill can make progress, we need to do two things.

  1. We need to validate the absolute need for the knowledge
  2. We need to help the users convince their brain that the knowledge is necessary

We need to be selective about the Just-In-Case knowledge to acquire now because our cognitive resources for a given day are limited.

Kathy also asserted, “If we really care about our users, we’ll help them do what they want, not what we want.” The goal of our users is not merely to become badass at our product or service.

Our users want to become more skillful, more knowledgeable, and more capable. Our users want to be badass in life!