Someone is enjoying my specialty coffee

“Again our apologies on behalf of our shipping partner.”

This is a quote from Detour Coffee who I have a coffee subscription with. My order was picked up on the 19th of December but has been lost ever since.

This message is a variation on a theme from many online retailers including Amazon (when they ship out east), and notably Happy Ears, who said when they’re ordered shipped, that concludes your experience with us, or something to that effect. Eight Ounce Coffee does not use this language and likely has me as a customer for life.

The experience you have with a company does not conclude when whatever low-cost logistics company you have chosen comes to pick up the package. It continues until that package arrives safely and long after. Eight Ounce Coffee sends an email after a period of time to ask about your experience with the product you ordered. Amazon spams you with review requests and buy more emails. Others add you to their email lists. We send our subscribers an email a week later checking in (although it hasn’t scaled, and we haven’t been able to continue).

There is a huge difference between having your package set carefully at your door and a neighbour finding your box in a nearby snowbank (Amazon). Which company would you want to do business with?

Goodbye prime

“Your HappyEars Canada order is now complete.”

I’ve been shopping for earplugs to replace the freebies I received from Upstreet brewing a few years ago when I was there to hear Lady Soul. They were handing them out when people started complaining about the excessive volume, to which the sound engineer just laughed and turned the volume up even more.

HappyEars didn’t work for me, but I always thought that the language was odd considering I had yet to receive the product. Doesn’t my experience with the company continue after they receive my money? And shouldn’t they consider that?

The same can be said with Amazon, whose Prime we stopped subscribing to as the value proposition all but disappeared. In major markets Amazon handles delivery but PEI being remote, Amazon relies upon low cost providers for the last mile of service. When they used Purolator and Canada Post, service was great, now more often than not you will see someone pull up in their car with the backseat overflowing with packages. The results are predictably poor.

Over the winter we would see our packages in snow banks or tossed at random doors. Today I got a phone call telling me they found my package outside.

Considering that Amazon deliveries are slow at the best of times, why would you choose to subscribe to Prime? More TV? Admittedly the ability to order just coffee filters was nice, but some advance planning is all that’s needed, and Mother earth might appreciate the smaller carbon footprint.

The effect to Amazons profits of losing some customers in the Atlantic region due to poor experience is infinitesimally small, but smaller companies should find ways to at the very least let their customers know that they are there with them throughout the customer journey.

“No Worries”

On recommendation, last night, Sheryl and I went to the Brickhouse Kitchen & Bar for dinner. I had 2 mains, the starter selection seemed pithy to me and I wanted a chowder. Sheryl had salmon, and I had their seafood chowder and haddock. The pricing suffers from being geared towards visitors from New York, but we seem to be in the minority that feel the cost of food here seems high, especially considering how little they pay staff.

The seafood chowder was great and arrived hot. This is one thing I appreciate, food arriving so hot that you need to give it a minute to settle. It was also full of seafood and nary a filler ingredient like potato to be seen.

The haddock was well presented but lukewarm and quite salty. The fish was overcooked – which I find often the case with meat here in every single restaurant. Dry meat which requires a sauce is either a local preference or as a consequence of public heath laws.

The service was friendly with the hostess giving us that “awww look, it’s a couple of people as old as my grandparents out for dinner” smile as she showed us to our table. As we weren’t drinking service was quick, a little too quick at the end, but what was interesting to me was their use of language. Surely, language is a key part of the experience in any restaurant or service. Aren’t staff trained on what to say when patrons arrive, and when they interact with them? Even 7-11 cashier’s in Taiwan are famous for consistently saying, 「歡迎光臨」 and 「謝謝光臨」.

What tuned my ears into the language they were using was the constant use of the term “no worries” by two particular waitresses. Every reply was peppered with it. No thank you’s, you’re welcome, my pleasure or simple silence. Perhaps, that along with the softening of the “H” to become “Haaach” is part of the charm of dining in Charlottetown?

I’ll definitely be back for that chowder.

Displays of abundance

I’m curious how the food is displayed in these photos effect purchasing behaviour. You won’t see food often displayed in this manner locally, where we focus more on the presentation of the product. Higher end or specialty grovcers in Taiwan and elsewhere had more upscale presentations, but few shopped there for anything other than a few items.

Reframing the conversation on patient experience: Three considerations

In experience, every voice matters, and each of those individual voices are contributing to an ocean of ripples that are positively impacting countless lives. In experience, no one organization owns, nor should claim to own all the answers, but many contribute to the possibilities found in elevating the human experience in healthcare. In experience, when we ensure this is a true strategic focus at the heart of healthcare we will find our way to achieving all the outcomes we aspire to achieve and know are possible in healthcare. This issue helps frame that reality though contributions from around the world touching on a broad range of topics, but yet in their distinction, find a powerful commonality, a commitment to the humanity of healthcare. If we reframe the conversation on patient experience to one that is about all we aspire to achieve, about how every role matters, every voice contributes, every perspective brings value and seasoning to an ever expanding mix of possibility, than what we can do in healthcare is boundless. A conversation on experience is not tangential to this opportunity we face, rather it rest squarely at its core and it is incumbent on each and every one of us to contribute. That may be our greatest opportunity in a global healthcare system where access and equity, quality and safety, empathy and compassion and health and well-being are not just what we do as work, but the fundamental reality of all do as human beings caring for human beings.

“Far too many healthcare conversations still identify the concept of experience as separate from other points of focus, such as quality or safety. This perpetuates that idea that experience is simply the service provided and minimizes the perspective that those receiving care bring to healthcare themselves”.

Jason Wolf ~ Patient Experience Journal (Volume 6 Issue 1) *You have about 3-4 clicks before you can read the journal article, but you can read for free.

There is a reason why “our religious services aren’t five minutes long”

A great experience which engages the senses trumps efficiency.


The entire experience of vinyl helps to create its appeal. Vinyl appeals to multiple senses—sight, sound, and touch—versus digital/streaming services, which appeal to just one sense (while offering the delight of instant gratification). Records are a tactile and a visual and an auditory experience. You feel a record. You hold it in your hands. It’s not just about the size of the cover art or the inclusion of accompanying booklets (not to mention the unique beauty of picture disks and colored vinyl). A record, by virtue of its size and weight, has gravitas, has heft, and the size communicates that it matters.

Records, in all their fragility and physicality, pay proper respect to the music, proper respect to the past. They must be handled carefully, for the past deserves our preservation. They are easily scratched, and their quality is diminished as a result of those scratches. They are subject to the elements—left in the sun, they warp. Like living things, they are ephemeral.

Why vinyl records survive in the digital age

Being able to see things through the eyes of someone else is one of the most important abilities a designer can have. But it’s also very difficult for most of us to do. Could a rather dramatic break with convention put designers into the shoes of the people they design for?

“You never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Designers need to go deeper if they are to really experience the users’ perspective. They need to experience the world of the user first hand. Because—let’s be honest—if your design job ties you to your desk all day long, the only thing you should be designing is a product for designers who are tied to their desk all day long.

See different

I am a fan of manga during work hours

Great analysis. I didn’t know Boxes and Arrows still published.

Remember the constructed emotions theory: Emotions are learned, not born. Different people therefore have different emotions; cultural environment influences these emotions. As video content becomes more dominant in our daily life, it becomes more influential on how we develop our emotions. As the content offering becomes more varied, the differences in emotion sets for the same geography becomes wider.

The change in the distribution of mass content has brought a change in global subcultural groups and thus in the global system of emotions.

My suggestion is that to have better prediction of viewer datasets, recommendation-based companies should involve the users in the tagging process of content. Don’t build a team of content taggers or analyzers: Ask your viewers to define the content. As is often the case in technology, the old way—in which people define rather then experts and algorithms)—is the more advanced.

Content recommendations and the creation of emotions

Building Habit-Forming Products

Hooks, according to Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, are “experiences designed to connect the user’s problem with the company’s product with enough frequency to form a habit.” In his bestselling book, Eyal describes the 4 steps of the Hooked Model and provides case studies for how the stickiest technologies use hooks to keep users coming back.

Here’s the gist:

  • The degree to which a company can utilize habit-forming technologies will increasingly decide which products and services succeed or fail.
  • Habit-forming technology creates associations with “internal triggers” which cue users without the need for marketing, messaging or other external stimuli.
  • Creating associations with internal triggers comes from building the four components of a “Hook” — a trigger, action, variable reward, and investment.
  • Consumers must understand how habit-forming technology works to prevent unwanted manipulation while still enjoying the benefits of these innovations.
  • Companies must understand the mechanics of habit-formation to increase engagement with their products and services and ultimately help users create beneficial routines.

From: Hooks: An Intro on How to Manufacture Desire

Remember the effect sound has on your customers experience

I’m in one of my favorite coffee shops in Hsinchu. They have a great new location near our house and their coffee knowledge is second to none. My wife especially loves their coffee and dropped by their old shop almost daily. Unfortunately the music playing a touch too loud, over poor sounding speakers, doesn’t match the rest of the experience. It’s a shame because they are otherwise a world class gem tucked away in the side streets of the Science Park. They pay attention to their customers and the interior design of their shop. Companies need to remember just how important the audio experience is to the overall experience a customer has with their product. This would include data gained from user research, personas and customer feedback etc. Starbucks gets this to a certain extent I believe.

When I was working in China I had a service design project where I in part focused on how sound could enhance their experience.

Here is a list of reading material I read to get me started.

Form vs. interaction

It is not the design of an object that makes it special, but what a person does with it — the interaction — that makes it special. A well–designed object must have the capacity to offer interaction, express deep human needs, and form relationships.

But don’t mistake these interactions as the entirety of the users experience. Great user experiences happen beyond the screen and in the gaps. Gaps between channels, devices and business silos. They happen when organisation’s pay attention to the nuances of their interaction with customers.

The Fogg Behavior Model

The Fogg Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing. 

Using my Behavior Model (FBM) as a guide, designers can identify what stops people from performing behaviors that designers seek. For example, if users are not performing a target behavior, such as rating hotels on a travel web site, the FBM helps designers see what psychological element is lacking.

I have used this as an approach to identifying problems in the design of mobile software during my time in China. It was a great way to frame the activity.

What Causes Behavior Change?

Friction in experience

Escalators at Big City in Hsinchu, Taiwan

Many years ago I did a design study of the shopping experience at the then new IKEA store in Taipei. Their guided approach to shopping was novel to me at the time and in stark contrast to the undesigned experiences I experienced elsewhere.

Most shopping centers follow a similar strategy when dealing with moving customers through-out their space. The escalators force you to walk through the aisles at each floor, or expose you to different stores, thereby exposing you to more product, and there are few short-cuts or direct routes (for fire safety reasons IKEA has somewhat hidden routes that bypass their experience).

This is fine if you come to spend the day inside and you enjoy browsing through the shops in a mall, Taiwanese shopping behavior is often like this, especially on a hot day.

But this design does not accommodate goal directed behavior. When I visit a shopping center it’s for a very specific reason – go to the book store, or sports shops, or see a movie. I might browse within these areas but customers like myself prefer direct paths and don’t appreciate the friction that many shopping centers purposely design for. A great design would accommodate both behaviors, but would it result in increased sales?

Big City in Hsinchu has direct access to the theatre via a long escalator, but to leave requires you to use the stairs. Many instead walk through the jam packed food area.

I haven’t seen any data, but I would guess that this sub-optimal design does result in increased sales. An example of an in optimal experience being best for business.

Escalators at Thai He in Fuzhou, China

Communication, like conversation, isn’t something that we should be optimizing. Communication, whether it’s from a newspaper, a social media platform, or a search engine, is information that we should be able to explore, interrogate, and spend time with. Something that’s sadly missing today.
Did we do something wrong?

Sometimes adding friction allows for a more thoughtful and useful product.

To design for experience, we must know what an experience is and how it comes to be. Designers need to understand how interpretation takes place when people interact with products. How do people make sense and meaning of the world? How is the intent of a person shaped by an interaction, and how does the subjective interpretation of the interaction become an experience?

From my notes.

Gaining feedback on software

Gaining feedback on use

A prototype for an audio story telling app.

An iPad reading experience prototype

Early last week we had a session at a local classroom modeling future experiences and testing prototypes for software for iOS that we are working on.

The key element of an optimal experience is that it is an end in itself. Even if initially undertaken for other reasons, the activity that consumes us becomes intrinsically rewarding. … the doing is the reward.
Mihaly Csikszentmnihalyi

Modelling children educational activities

Teaching rhythms and pattern matching using popsicle sticks

Using rudimentary analog tools to model digital games

We had a short session this week to model an analog game to see if children respond enough to make it work as a digital experience. A bit like paper prototyping but with popsicle sticks. Teachers are a wealth of knowledge in this domain – they are often tasked to creatively come up with short fun activities without anything more than the basic items they have in their classrooms or homes.

Somehow, we must find again our sense of individual values, lost in this century of enormous technological advance. This very freedom that mechanical aids are giving us has welded us into unmanageable megalopolises, where people are anonymous numbers and where communication with our fellow man seems a minus quantity. We must restore the warmth and spirit we had in the smaller community. I hope that in our leisure time we will once again know our neighbor — and, if everyone knows his neighbor and learns to live with him, the entire world will be at peace.
Henry Dreyfuss, Designing for People [Dreyfuss 1955, p. 261]

Trends in UI, Interaction, & Experience Design

Back when Nokia was publishing research I looked forward to listening to Younghee Jung’s thoughts on design. Nice to see her as a part of this video.

The 18 minute “Connecting” documentary is an exploration of the future of Interaction Design and User Experience from some of the industry’s thought leaders. As the role of software is catapulting forward, Interaction Design is seen to be not only increasing in importance dramatically, but also expected to play a leading role in shaping the coming “Internet of things.” Ultimately, when the digital and physical worlds become one, humans along with technology are potentially on the path to becoming a “super organism” capable of influencing and enabling a broad spectrum of new behaviors in the world.

Or you can think of this another way, all the little details add up to create a great experience.

In an interview for the New York Times, the actor Kevin Bacon was asked about his work as a director. He said:
“To me, directing is telling a story. All day long, that’s all I do—in every single detail. Is she using a pencil, or is she using a pen? And what story do you want to tell with that? You see, you tell all these little stories in the course of a film, and then hopefully it all wraps up into one big story.”
Kevin Bacon, quoted in “As for Directing, It’s Telling a Story” by Dave Kehr, New York Times, December 30, 2003

Stories have the felicitous capacity of capturing exactly those elements that formal decision methods leave out. Logic tries to generalize, to strip the decision making from the specific context, to remove it from subjective emotions. Stories capture the context, capture the emotions. Logic generalizes, stories particularize. Logic allows one to form a detached, global judgement; story- telling allows one to take the personal point of view, to understand the particular impact the decision is apt to have on the people who will be affected by it.
Don Norman, Things That Make Us Smart [1994, p. 129]

I forget where I got this, perhaps from the Experience Economy.

A goods business charges for distinctive, tangible things.
A service business charges for the activities you perform.
An experience business charges for the feeling customers get by engaging it.

This bit of futurism from 2008 can be seen in much of the software I use.

We are going to soon carry out sports activities with our friends even when they are not in the same physical place as we are. More generally, computers will be increasingly used to persuade us to physically exercise and to make exercise more fun. At CHI 2008, Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Stefan Agamanolis have organized the workshop on Exertion Interfaces which is taking place today, and I asked them four quick questions before the workshop start. Luca Chittaro: EXERTION INTERFACES. An interview with Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Stefan Agamanolis

It’s not strategy

Michael Bierut, a respected visual designer, said this about luck during an interview with Adaptive Path founder Peter Merholz:

“It’s a dirty secret that much of what we admire in the design world is a byproduct not of ‘strategy’ but of common sense, taste, and luck. Some clients are too unnerved by ambiguity to accept this and create gargantuan superstructures of bullshit to provide a sense of security.”

From Mental Models by Indi Young

Experience Design is a team sport

Anyone can design experiences, the difficulty lies in designing and creating great user experiences – the latter requires a variety of disciplines and skills. This can prove difficult as we see departments and disciplines fighting over ownership of the ‘customer experience’ from design and IT through to marketing and branding. But designing great experiences is a team sport requiring responsive rugby squads rather than process driven relay teams. In this presentation Leslie will discuss why UX teams should look beyond the obvious UX players and create cross-departmental rugby teams.

Paper vs. Pixels: Print and Digital Experiences are Complementary

The spatial memories seem to translate into more immersive reading and stronger comprehension. A recent experiment conducted with young readers in Norway found that, with both expository and narrative works, people who read from a printed page understand a text better than those who read the same material on a screen. The findings are consistent with a series of other studies on the process of reading. “We know from empirical and theoretical research that having a good spatial mental representation of the physical layout of the text supports reading comprehension,” wrote the Norwegian researchers. They suggested that the ability of print readers to “see as well as tactilely feel the spatial extension and physical dimensions” of an entire text likely played a role in their superior comprehension.

Paper vs. Pixel.