Creating Passionate Users
Presented by Kathy Sierra, OSCON 2005
How do you create passionate users? People will do anything and be enthusiastic about it if they're passionate about it. For example, Nikon.com teaches you how to be a better photographer. In their tutorials, they happen to mention that you might need a better camera to take better pictures. If you're going for passion, you have to provide a continuous path for becoming more knowledgeable about a product - and eventually becoming an expert in something. The beauty is the path or thing you provide doesn't even have to be related to the product. It simply has to provide users with enthusiasm about something you provide, which in turn supplies them with the path for that passionate experience.
"Things that look better actually work better." In other words, aesthetics matter.
When writing a book or documentation - you have to make what you're writing about matters to the user. It has to be so important to them that it gives them a queasy feeling. Naturally, the person won't be interested in what you're talking about - you need to be able to communicate the real core of why a person would have an emotional reaction and why it matters to them. "Well, why didn't you say that?" is the reaction you're looking for. If you're can answer that question w/o answering all the questions leading up to id - you're golden. You're supposed to try and scare them to the point that they're never going to have sex again, and then step back one level. What's the compelling meaningful benefit of the product?
You need to seduce your users and keep them interested and passionate by challenging them to learn more. Flow is the feeling when you have no sense of time - and you need to somehow figure out how to get your users into the flow. As long as you believe you're only one compile away from fixing it - you'll spend hours working on something. This is the flow state and comes from the perfect balance between a challenge and the skill+knowledge to solve that challenge.
One of the challenges to creating passionate users is to establish some sort of next level that your users can get to. First of all, you have to figure out what the next level is, followed by what "new powers" and abilities you can give to your users once they get to that level.
Tips for engaging users
When writing, use a conversational tone. The brain has a conversation with text when you read it and you'll have a 40% better retention rate by reading writing with a conversational tone. Also, use pictures whenever possible since they often make things easier to understand. Don't reveal everything - make your users curious.
What do film makers and novelists do? They tell stories.
Where there is community, there is legend, myth, passion and stories. Where there is passion, there are people. How can you propagate the stories and people from the project?
People don't care about you - all they care about is how they feel about themselves after interacting with your product or service.
This was a great session by Kathy and I was very impressed how she presented it. No laptop, just an overhead projector. Lots of group activities and lots of group discussions. I could easily see Kathy and Bert writing a book on Creating Passionate Users.