Why are you doing what your doing? Is it to meet some a target around usage or engagement, or maybe increasing the amount of time people spend on a site? Or perhaps you’re striving to hit a date on your roadmap? If so be careful, these things are not as important as the reasons why consumers hire your service. The real world examples are what matter.
Jurgen Appelo doesn’t drink wine or beer, but he loves Mojitos - why is so? Well they taste amazing to him despite the fact that the separate ingredients are boring.
According to Appelo the same can be said for ideas . When you mix different ideas from multiple sources, a new idea can emerge that both aggregates and improves on the existing ideas. This is the Mojito Method.
Appello is open about applying the Mojito Method, by taking ideas form other people, stirring them up and using them in a way that is even more then any of the ideas taken separately. Recent research has shown that the copying of ideas is the most successful of all [improvement] strategies. This would indicate that teams should spend most of their learning time copying ideas from other sources and only a little time on inventing their own.
An example of this is The Happiness Door that he invented by combining the feedback wall and happiness index existing ideas.
“The Mojito Method makes sense for anyone who wants to innovate without
the trouble of inventing entirely new stuff.”
Jurgen Appelo, Management 3.0 [Appelo 2011a]
A definition of responsive is ‘to react quickly and positively’. When people mention this term within the context of websites the common scenario is that of a single site thats capable of adjusting screen elements to ensure an appropriate experience based on browser dimensions. This is achieved by either inserting breakpoints based on common device dimensions or when resizing starts to make a Ui look crap.
I think that In todays world though, being responsive has to be more then this. The fact that people own multiple devices and that online transactions are fast becoming the default for consumers, adds new dimensions to its online definition.
Cameron Moll made the point that most of us have multiple devices – be it a laptop, smart phone, tablet, whatever – he himself has five, which is probably not that uncommon. He also accurately states that we can be using devices sequentially and even simultaneously at various parts of the day to conduct certain tasks, like online purchasing. According to Google 67% of us use multiple screens sequentially for online shopping and 90% for online activities in general. This, I think could be the next frontier of multi device responsiveness.
Sequential experiences should be capable of flowing from one screen to another, more specifically the focus is on maintaining the state of core service transactions across your devices as you access them whenever to complete the same or similar tasks.
Amazon and eBay are the masters of maintaining transactions through sequential device use. Watching an item, viewing your purchase history and accessing messages are all synchronised across any device you access your account from. Amazon will even maintain an unfinished purchase by holding items in your shopping cart across your devices.
Most of us aren’t working for these behemoth eCom’s where this is expected. Generally speaking most sites aren’t doing a good job here yet. Those that can achieve these new dimensions of responsiveness – where important tasks, services and sessions are completely maintained across sequential and simultaneous device use, will introduce a new level of personalisation that will clearly set them apart from the rest.
You have to keep on top of your pantry – every week you add more staples and over time if you don’t clean stuff out, things go beyond their used by date, become un-consumable and get in the way of finding the fresh and useful items.
The same can be said about markets, they’re all full these days, so now more then ever companies will go shopping for new things in an effort to reinvent and distinguish themselves with new and unique value. The problem is that most don’t bother to clean out the old stuff, which is probably still generating some revenue and contributing to current success . There are always long and short term goals to be met – things can get complicated here.
You might be privy to this is if you’re working for an established brand – have you had to wedge something new into an already cluttered experience, where no other element (with stakeholder in toe) could give an inch?
What effect does this have on the consumers of your service? Are they giving you the uptake you forecasted? No? Maybe its not just because the feature isn’t relevant, it might be because no-one found it or understood it amongst everything else thats going on – or maybe they don’t understand what you’re all about now.
In this time of transition we need to be carful that we aren’t trying to do too many things. You’ll be spread thin, working hard to support and develop everything, worse still – users will think that your mediocre at what you do. If you’re in this position it might be time to assess the entire template and make some difficult decisions on what should and shouldn’t be there, based on where you want to take the brand too next. You can only do so much properly at any given time – as more features come in – others must go out the back door.
Our time is limited, so using the web should help us get the things we need and do the things we want in real life as efficiently as possible.
Hard Rock Hotel, San-Diego – Great conference and great memorabilia.
Magnifying this issue is the plethora of different devices that we own now, each a unique window to the web that most sites are ill prepared for. At #bdconf San Diego, the presenters were aware of this. Be it Ux, device (or) content strategy, emerging development methodologies or site performance – the underlying problem people are solving is’time to successful task’ when accessing the web in this ever increasing multi-device world.
Ilya Grigorik Mentioned that Google are striving to present experiences to users within 1 second of hitting a site – any longer then this and people begin to perceive a lag in the flow of the session experience and intuitively become susceptible to distractions (and leaving the still loading site).
Luke Wroblewski mentioned that there was a burst of over 40 unique devices released in just the latter part of 2012 (in addition to the hordes of earlier models). In this sea of different screen dimensions and resolutions, he stressed how important it is to focus your multi-device strategy on ergonomics (i.e. palm and lap use cases), as these won’t change anytime soon.
I liked the way he also spoke about creating break points when designs start looking crap, rather then trying to cater for various device dimensions. A guideline that will help us achieve efficient and effective experiences within device constraints we aren’t yet aware of.
Jason Grigsby presented his thinking on being adaptive to different input types. For example, imagine a mobile service that allowed you save time by writing an email, whilst safely driving your car, via ‘voice’ input, this capability isn’t too far away.
Cameron Moll warned us about falling prey to stereotyping what devices do and don’t do in his presentation. eBay mobile now sells over 8,000 cars a week – did you assume people don’t buy cars on their devices too? He questioned whether it matters what kind of device people are using and that we should really focus on making sure our most valuable services and transactions are available on whatever device is within arms reach.
Most people own 2 or more devices these days and this has created emerging new usage expectations, where people will want to complete tasks such as an online purchase across sequential devices or begin a task online and complete it on a device, that compliments better capability to complete the task (i.e. looking up Google maps online, then using the app for directions).
For me these use cases sound like the hard core multi-device requirements coming up round the corner that not many are prepared for right now.
It was entertaining to hear Hamptin Catlin talk as well. The guy is great at finding significant problems that we may (or may not) be aware of and conjuring up solutions that take off on mass. He saved Ui developers a lot of time by creating Sass a while back and bought Wikipedia up-to speed in the mobile world on his own accord. He did such a good job that they hired him in the end. He shared the ‘maxims that have served him well over the years, being;
- Find people who do what you don’t
- Listen to the bitching
- Find the simplest approach to getting something done
- Solutions only come from problems
- Take what you’ve learned and bring it to another market
- Try just solving your own problems, chances are they’re problems for others as well
The list of speakers and their nuggets of wisdom could go on, but in the best interests of keeping this to a post and not an essay i’ll leave it at that. A great experience that I recommend to anyone interested in keeping up with the latest multi-device thinking.
It’s a certainty that the applications we are designing right now will only change over time. There will be new initiatives, new teams, new goals and directions that will dictate this. How much of an impact this will have on our current designs will depend on how we account for scalability right now.
Its staggering how quickly new things can become obsolete and ‘in the road’ legacy. I’ve seen projects become dated before they’ve even been deployed – but that another story. To minimise the likelihood of this problem, accounting for scalability in initial thinking is critical to longevity and minimising future feature development obstacles.
This goes for technical thinking too, not just Ux. For example if we link off to a third party to manage our email product subscriptions, we want them to come up with a way to allow for the opt in of email addresses to new products as we release them. For this to scale effectively, there should be no code changes required on our (client) side to achieve this. This may seem like a little thing to pick up on before a system is built, but it could make a significant difference in long term operational costs.
In the Ux space, I’m really impressed with what our designers are conceptualising. Its a diabolically simple a framework that should scale over time – a profile that may serve as a ‘means to an end’ for multiple initiatives over time from different business units. Collaboration and awareness of this will be critical in its proper utilisation. At the end of the day even if teams from opposite sides of the company use this, spanned over significant time – the end user experience should still be seamless, as if it was done by the one team all at once.
Way back in 2007 Luke Wroblewski wrote about some fairly simple rules to follow that should enable designs to scale over time. The fact that its still relevant it testament to its truth. I believe they are even more timely now that we have to consider scalability over both time and device. In summery he wrote that.
“Your applications will change over time. How much of an impact that has on your existing design depends, in part, on how well you’ve accounted for scalability. Several design considerations can help ensure some level of flexibility and thus scalability:
- Using screen frameworks lets your applications scale to accommodate new features.
- Choosing appropriately flexible user interface structures ensures they can accommodate expanding or contracting sets of features.
- Designing dynamic components that take content resizing and varying amounts of content into account can ensure a layout that scales with the content.
Though none of these methods offers a foolproof solution that lets you completely avoid continual redesigns, together they can provide enough flexibility to ensure your designs can scale as your applications grow.”