Many clients have asked and been confused about the differences between customer segmentations and personas. So here’s a quick write-up to help provide some clarification.
Customer segmentation is a marketing tool to identify different groups of customers (or potential customers) within a market so that it is possible to target particular products, services or marketing messages. There are many ways to slice and dice customer segments depending on the marketing needs, such as age, income or life stages. Customer segmentation itself does not provide insights but a way to differentiate and group customers.
Personas (and archetypes) are essentially a design tool to create empathy with a group of real users. Personas are fictional characters (but based upon robust research with real people) designed to represent a group of people with similar characters, values and behaviours. The purpose of personas is to mix demographic information with archetypal behaviors in a believable and true to data harmony. Personas are most useful when they are paired with scenarios to provide contexts and lead to insights thus guide design decisions.
Customer segmentations and personas are not mutually exclusive however they are totally different types of tools for different purposes and contexts of use. In some cases personas could be mapped to segmentations to represent key customer segments, but in other cases, personas could be based on factors that are totally separate from segmentations. For example, when we segment insurance customers we may segment them by life stages, while looking at a digital decision flow design we will develop personas focused on their readiness to make a decision and their use of digital as opposed to life stages.
Getting our work done was an alphabet soup nightmare.
Then, in 1984, Apple adopted Xerox PARC’s WIMP — window, icon, menu, pointer — and took us a galactic leap forward away from those horrifying command lines of DOS, and into a world of graphical user interfaces.
Apple’s Lisa. (Source: Guidebook Gallery)
We were converted. And a decade later, when we could touch the Palm Pilot instead of dragging a mouse, we were even more impressed. But today, our love for the digital interface has gotten out-of-control.
It’s become the answer to every design problem.
How do you make a better car? Slap an interface in it.
Speedometer in BMW’s Mini Cooper. (Source: BMW)
Who doesn’t want Twitter functionality inside their speedometer? (Source: CNET)
How do you make a better refrigerator? Slap an interface on it.
“Upgrade your life” with a better refrigerator door. (Source: Samsung)
Love to check my tweets when getting some water from the fridge. (Source: Samsung)
How do you make a better hotel lobby? Slap an interface in it.
A giant touchscreen with news and weather is exactly what’s missing from my hotel stay. (Source:IDEO)
Creative minds in technology should focus on solving problems. Not just make interfaces.
As Donald Norman said in 1990, “The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job.”
It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, and has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money and time to make these systems somewhat usable, and after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve with a major overhaul.
There is a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. Following three simple principles, we can design smarter, more useful systems that make our lives better.
Thirteen steps later, she can enter her car.
The app forces the driver to use her phone. She has to learn a new interface. And the experience is designed around the flow of the computer, not the flow of a person.
If we eliminate the UI, we’re left with only three, natural steps:
Anything beyond these three steps should be frowned upon.
Seem crazy? Well, this was solved by Mercedes-Benz in 1999. Please watch the first 22 seconds of this incredibly smart (but rather unsexy) demonstration:
By reframing design constraints from the resolution of the iPhone to our natural course of actions, Mercedes created an incredibly intuitive, and wonderfully elegant car entry. The car senses that the key is nearby, and the door opens without any extra work.
That’s good design thinking. After all, especially when designing around common tasks, the best interface is no interface.
If we eliminate the UI, we’re again left with only three, natural steps:
Asking for an item to a person behind a register is a natural interaction. And that’s all it takes to pay with Auto Tab in Pay with Square. Start at 2:08:
Auto Tab in Pay with Square does require some UI to get started. But by using location awareness behind-the-scenes, the customer doesn’t have to deal with UI, and can simply pursue his natural course of actions.
As Jack Dorsey of Square explains above, “NFC is another thing you have to do. It’s another action you have to take. And it’s not the most human action to wave a device around another device and wait for a beep. It just doesn’t feel right.”
No UI is about machines helping us, instead of us adapting for computers.
With UI, we are faced with counterintuitive interaction methods that are tailored to the needs of a computer. We are forced to navigate complex databases to obtain simple information. We are required to memorize countless passwords with rules like one capital letter, two numbers and a punctuation mark. And most importantly, we’re constantly pulled away from the stuff we actually want to be doing.
A Windows 2000 password requirement. (Source: Microsoft)
By embracing No UI, the design focuses on your needs. There’s no interface for the sake of interface. Instead, computers are catered to you.
Your car door unlocks when you walk up to it. Your TV turns on to the channel you want to watch. Your alarm clock sets itself, and even wakes you up at the right REM moment.
Even your car lets you know when something is wrong:
When we let go of screen-based thinking, we design purely to the needs of a person. Afterall, good experience design isn’t about good screens, it’s about good experiences.
I know, you’re great.
You’re a unique, amazingly complex individual, filled with your own interests and desires.
So building a great UI for you is hard. It takes open-minded leaders, great research, deep insights…let’s put it this way: it’s challenging.
So why are companies spending millions of dollars simply to make inherently unnatural interfaces feel somewhat natural for you? And even more puzzling, why do they continue to do so, when UI often has a diminishing rate of return?
Think back to when you first signed up for Gmail. Once you discovered innovative features like conversation view, you were hugely rewarded. But over time, the rate of returns have diminished. The interface has become stale.
Sadly, the obvious way for Google to give you another leap forward is to have its designers and engineers spend an incredible amount of time and effort to redesign. And when they do, you will be faced with the pain of learning how to interact with the new interface; some things will work better for you, and some things will be worse for you.
Alternatively, No UI systems focus on you. These systems aren’t bound by the constraints of screens, but instead are able to organically and rapidly grow to fit your needs.
For example, let’s talk about Trunk Club.
It’s a fashion startup.
They think of themselves as a service, not a software company or an app-maker. That’s an important mind set which is lost on many startups today. It means they serve people, not screens.
After you sign up for Trunk Club, you have an introductory conversation with a stylist. Then, they send your first trunk of clothes. What you like, you keep. What you don’t like, you send back. Based on your returns and what you keep, Trunk Club learns more and more about you, giving you better and better results each time.
Diminishing rate of return over time? Nay, increasing returns.
Without a bulky UI, it’s easier to become more and more relevant. For fashion, the best interface is no interface.
Another company focused on adapting to your needs is Nest.
When I first saw Nest, I thought they had just slapped an interface on a thermometer and called it “innovation.”
As time passes, the need to use Nest’s UI diminishes. (Source: YouTube)
But there’s something special about the Nest thermostat: it doesn’t want to have a UI.
Nest studies you. It tracks when you wake up. What temperatures you prefer over the course of the day. Nest works hard to eliminate the need for its own UI by learning about you.
The foundation for No UI has been laid by countless other members of the design community.
“The impact of technology will increase ten-fold as it is imbedded in the fabric of everyday life. As technology becomes more imbedded and invisible, it calms our lives by removing annoyances while keeping us connected with what is truly important.”
“…Norman shows why the computer is so difficult to use and why this complexity is fundamental to its nature. The only answer, says Norman, is to start over again, to develop information appliances that fit people’s needs and lives.”
In 1999, Kevin Ashton gave a talk about “The Internet of Things.” His words:
“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost.”
Today, we finally have the technology to achieve a lot of these goals.
This past year, Amber Case talked about Weiser-inspired location awareness.
There’s a lot we can achieve with some of our basic tools today.
Oh, there’s so much more to say:
Watch the Cooper Parlor. After this essay exploded on Twitter, Cooper hosted a No UI event with special guest, design legend Donald Norman.
Listen to “The best interface is no interface” at SXSW. Thanks for reading this essay, tweeting about it, and generously pressuring SXSW to accept this talk. Thanks to you, I will be speaking about “The best interface is no interface” at SXSW 2013.
Discuss on Branch. Join the conversation on Branch about the world of No UI.
Follow the No UI Tumblr. I’m collecting more case studies, more examples and articles about the technology that can help us eliminate the interface on Tumblr. Get inspired at nointerface.tumblr.com
Comment below. Where do you see No UI opportunities?
Special thanks: to everyone at Cooper and all those who have helped, particularly Stefan Klocek, Chris Noessel, Doug LeMoine and Meghan Gordon.
Corrections: the original version of this article referred to “Pay with Square” as “Pay by Square”, incorrectly stated the published date of “The Invisible Computer” and cited Adam Greenfield.
Let’s face it, we all had that moment of feeling the sweat in our palms, the twitch in our leg, the short breath, the racing heart beats, the itch around the collar, or the total black out of our brain. That’s probably how Michael Bay felt when he was on that stage at CES this year. For someone as famous as Michael Bay, the steak was high, and the embarrassment could be immense.
Indeed, that was what happened. The media was stunned and had a frenzy about his epic stage walk-off. Who wouldn’t love watching a stunning epic fail of a celebrity?
I feel Michael’s pain, and I feel deep sympathy and empathy. We could all be in that situation at some point of our lives. We are just not Michael Bay.
A lot of times, we are forced to be judged by our performance in front of many, and we often had very little time to recover from any small mistakes or surprises during our speech, like the speech prompter in Michael’s case. Stage fright is due to the anxiety and fear of failing, as many times, the perceived steak could be very high. Whether its a client presentation, a conference keynote speech, or even an company internal brainstorming, you could suddenly be thrown out of your train of thoughts and find yourself lost in a strange world feeling you are alone under the spotlights starred at by many from outer space. Your reputation, status, success or even dignity could be at risk. Then you start to panic, missing more thoughts which should have now filled your brain and mouth. Instead, you couldn’t think of a word and couldn’t speak a word. It could feel like a nightmare and your mind starts to swing in between escaping the scene and total denial. Fight or flight. It’s now up to our instinct to save or abandon our professional images.
We are all humans and we all naturally have stage frights (the fear of publicly speaking in front of a large crowd). Often it has little to do with our competency or confidence, it’s all about our natural instincts. But many of us are required to deliver seemingly ‘spotless’ public speech in our career or life events, how can we cope with the natural fear of our body and mind? Here are some tips I have learned in my past experience delivering speech and presentations:
Get excited, not calm down! Recent research published by Harvard Business School suggests trying to calm down when experiencing stage fright isn’t helpful. Instead, the more excited we are, the better we cope with the nerves.
Take some deep breath, and don’t be afraid of being noticed. Take a break and put yourself together.
Deliver a joke, or a small action of distraction. Sip some water sometimes give you the natural break in between words, and no one would judge for drinking water.
Charge up, repeat or reiterate what you have said just a moment ago. I know it may seem counter intuitive, but repeating yourself in a smart way gives you the time you need to process the situation and pick up where you left off in your thoughts.
Don’t be afraid to raise your voice and show some emotions. If you speak harder and louder, chances are your focus will quickly move away from the fear to the topic that really excites you and your audience.
And my last tip, thanks to big names like Michael Bay, think about Michael when you are in his shoes. Remember you are not alone, and you will certainly not be judged as the worst speaker in history. What do you have to lose? Free yourself and go for it.
Finally that feeling of conquering yourself and taking control of the audience is extremely satisfying. I know you know what you have to say, so just don’t walk off the stage since Michael has done us a favour to set that bar low. Stick to your feet and feel the thrill of leading the intellectual and emotional journey of your audience. Trust me, you will love it.
On Nov 10th, the diamond wedding anniversary of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, National Geographic Channel premiered Killing Kennedy, a well made movie about the story behind the JFK assassination. Apart from the beautifully made movie itself, NatGeo also launched an equally touching Web experience: http://kennedyandoswald.com
The simple yet stunningly rich experience of the website is one of the best examples of web storytelling through the use of not only great photography, videos, but also an important element: sound.
The beautifully mastered voice-over in the background, the piano, the birds, the whirlwind, the snapping of cameras…all of these non-visual elements instantly add another dimension to the experience, drawing the audience into the emotional space-time created by the artists. Try do a simple test, browse the site with sound on, and then sound off; you will find yourself shifting in between two worlds, an immersive world of the story, and a world that stood outside. That’s the power of sound. It renders your mind and brings the storytelling to life.
According to the research conducted by Dr. Vinoo Alluri from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, sound is the only medium that lights up the entire brain under fMRI scan, compared with partial light-ups of visual stimulations. The researchers found that music listening recruits not only the auditory areas of the brain, but also employs large-scale neural networks. For instance, they discovered that the processing of musical pulse recruits motor areas in the brain, supporting the idea that music and movement are closely intertwined. Limbic areas of the brain, known to be associated with emotions, were found to be involved in rhythm and tonality processing. Processing of timbre was associated with activations in the so-called default mode network, which is assumed to be associated with mind-wandering and creativity.
“Our results show for the first time how different musical features activate emotional, motor and creative areas of the brain,” says Prof. Petri Toiviainen from the University of Jyväskylä. “We believe that our method provides more reliable knowledge about music processing in the brain than the more conventional methods.”
Film makers are the masters of creating compelling and convincing storytelling experiences, and no one else understand how powerful sounds are for storytelling than film makers.
“The power of sound to put an audience in a certain psychological state is vastly undervalued. And the more you know about music and harmony, the more you can do with that.” - Mike Figgis
Similar to film making, interactive Web experiences engage our audio-visual senses, only with interactivity and no constraint of time. The challenge with using sound on Web is time; its very difficult to synchronize sound when you can not control people’s visual flows and sequences. However, the degree of freedom in people’s interactions with the Web can also serve as a great opportunity to use sound in very creative ways, bringing more immersion and realism to the experience itself. The key is ‘context’. The use of sound in interactive experiences has to be contextual and responsive, for example, the sound of birds and waves are triggered as ambience when the audience is viewing photos of the ocean.
When the right sounds are used with the right contexts and responsiveness, the experience can not only be much more engaging and memorable, but also influencing people’s behaviours. According to studies, with the right use of sound effects and background music on storytelling based user experience, there’s a significant improvement on key metrics such as click-through rates and time spent, as well as social sharing and potentially conversions. In other words, when used right, sound brings better business results. According to research, with the help of music and sounds, audience could understand better the story being created and have a more enjoyable experience while experiencing it.
Although HTML Web has existed for over two decades, the use of interactive sound on a mass scale on the Web is still something relative new, or even undervalued. If you do a Google search on the subject, many ‘best practices’ recommend against using sound on the Web, for a couple of reasons: Firstly, it’s hard to synchronize sound with the right contexts of the Web. Secondly, the technologies and internet bandwidth just weren’t there yet, so latency and performance have always been top concerns. Last but not least, there’s a lack of talent pool and experts in designing interactive sound UX, so instead of doing it wrongly, it’s better to avoid it altogether! But it doesn’t mean we should ignore the power of sound and keep silence.
With that, before concrete Web specific audio UX principles and methods are established through industry practices and research, many methods and frameworks of the traditional film making can be learned and borrowed. For example, the D3S (Dynamic Story Shadows and Sounds) framework, was built with the main objective of increasing the understanding and enjoyment of a viewer of an interactive story generated in a virtual environment with autonomous virtual agents. It follows two parallel layers when considering music execution: event sounds and background music. Event sounds are used to underscore actions of the virtual characters that occur in the scene. Differently, background music, offers some of the score functions, with a special focus on enhancing the understanding of the story. In D3S, this type of music is classified in four different categories: character themes, background music that emphasizes emotions, background music for key moments and background music as filler.
Certain musical features can dynamically change according to the evolution of the environment. In D3S we considered: volume, instrumentation, and tempo.Volume is associated with emotions intensity. Different instruments are associated with different characters so that the audience has a better perception of what is happening in the story and who is doing what. The third parameter manipulated was music tempo which is associated with environment’s arousal.
More specifically, the association between instruments and characters is a good way of hinting which actions a certain character is doing, helping the audience to identify them. Changes in volume of sounds associated to actions between characters have an influence on the perception of the strength of the relation between them. Themes with features associated to happiness (such as major mode and faster tempo) might suggest that the character is happy, while themes with features associated to sadness (such as minor mode and slower tempo) might suggest that he is sad. Background music can also have a big impact about what is happening in scene – If we have two characters acting with a type of music, the audience might think they are doing something. If we change the type of music radically, they might think they are doing something completely different. From the results obtained, we can draw some conclusions about the importance of music associated with virtual characters, emphasizing the importance that sound and music has in these characters perception, and eventually in their believability.
The above is just a brief intro of how important music and sound can play in creating immersive and emotional digital experiences. I see a big trend coming with rich sound enabled digital multi-dimensional experiences along with the emerging technologies of wearable computing and multi-screen experiences. Humans have long been using sound as a way to learn and interact with the physical world, and there’s no reason why we should not use sound as a key interface in digital world. A big paradigm shift is coming.
For more information, please feel free to leave you comment below or contact BOZ UX.
In a BBC documentary we recently investigated how advanced we already are with these human-like droids. The future may be closer than we think.
This has recently been published on Fact Company. Some very interesting and insightful facts that may help shape your next social strategy.
1. THE FASTEST GROWING DEMOGRAPHIC ON TWITTER IS THE 55–64 YEAR AGE BRACKET.
This demographic has grown 79% since 2012.
The 45–54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+.
For Facebook, this group has jumped 46%.
For Google+, 56%.
2. 189 MILLION OF FACEBOOK’S USERS ARE “MOBILE ONLY”
Not only does Facebook have millions of users who don’t access it from a desktop or laptop, but mobile use generates 30% of Facebook’s ad revenue as well. This is a 7% increase from the end of 2012 already.
3. YOUTUBE REACHES MORE U.S. ADULTS AGED 18–34 THAN ANY CABLE NETWORK
Did you think TV was the best way to reach the masses? Well if you’re after 18–34 year olds in the U.S., you’ll have more luck reaching them through YouTube. Of course, one video won’t necessarily reach more viewers than a cable network could, but utilizing a platform with such a wide user base makes a lot of sense.
4. EVERY SECOND TWO NEW MEMBERS JOIN LINKEDIN
LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, continues to grow every second. From groups to blogs to job listings, this platform is a rich source of information and conversation for professionals who want to connect to others in their industry.
5. SOCIAL MEDIA HAS OVERTAKEN PORN AS THE NO. 1 ACTIVITY ON THE WEB
We all knew social media was popular, but this popular? Apparently it’s the most common thing we do online. So next time you find yourself watching Kitten vs. Watermelon videos on Facebook, you can at least console yourself with the fact that the majority of people online right now are doing something similar. Social media carries more weight than ever. It’s clearly not a fad, or a phase. It continues to grow as a habit, and new platforms continue to appear and develop.
6. LINKEDIN HAS A LOWER PERCENTAGE OF ACTIVE USERS THAN PINTEREST, GOOGLE+, TWITTER AND FACEBOOK
Although LinkedIn is gathering new users at a fast rate, the number of active users is lower than most of the biggest social networks around. So more people are signing up, but they’re not participating. This means you’re probably not going to have as good a response with participatory content on LinkedIn, like contests or polls, as you might on Facebook or Twitter.
7. 93% OF MARKETERS USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS
Only 7% of marketers say they don’t use social media for their business. That means there are lots of people out there getting involved and managing a social media strategy. It’s becoming more common to include social media as part of an overall marketing budget or strategy, as opposed to when it was the outlier that no one wanted to spend time or money on.
8. 25% OF SMARTPHONE OWNERS AGES 18–44 SAY THEY CAN’T RECALL THE LAST TIME THEIR SMARTPHONE WASN’T NEXT TO THEM
It’s pretty clear that mobile is a growing space that we need to pay attention to. And we’ve all heard the cliché of smartphone owners who don’t want to let go of their phones, even for five minutes. Well, apparently that’s not too far from the truth. If 25% of people aged 18–44 can’t remember not having their phone with them, there are probably very few times when they’re not connected to the web in some way.
9. EVEN THOUGH 62% OF MARKETERS BLOG OR PLAN TO BLOG IN 2013, ONLY 9% OF US MARKETING COMPANIES EMPLOY A FULL-TIME BLOGGER
Blogging is clearly a big focus for marketers who want to take advantage of social media and content marketing. This is great, because blogging for your business has lots of advantages: you can control your company blog, you can set the tone and use it to market your product, share company news or provide interesting information for your customers. With only 9% of marketing companies hiring bloggers full-time, however, the pressure to produce high-quality content consistently will be a lot higher.
10. 25% OF FACEBOOK USERS DON’T BOTHER WITH PRIVACY SETTINGS
We’ve seen a lot of news about social media companies and privacy. Facebook itself has been in the news several times over privacy issues, Instagram users recently got in a kerfuffle over changing their terms of service, and the recent NSA news has seen people become more conscious of their privacy online. But despite these high-profile cases of security-conscious users pushing back against social networks and web services, Velocity Digital reports that 25% of Facebook users don’t even look at their privacy settings.
Ever spent 5 minutes embarrassingly looking all over your bag to find a store points card in front of a long line at a cashier and then found out you left it home? Now you have a solution, a single smart card that puts all your cards in one so you never have to worry about missing a card.
Having worked for multiple financial clients, I’ve witnessed and been part of the battle for digital wallet. Yet this week, the creator of Coin, a seven-person startup in San Francisco stunned the world. Mobile payments remain a much sought-after nut to crack for technology companies both large and small. Any firm able to facilitate person-to-person or person-to-business transitions at mass scale stands to gain significant profit off those payments.
There are two things to note with the emergence of Coin:
One, the breakthrough is through a small startup, not a major financial institution. This is yet another great example of how tech is slowly (or rather rapidly) eating away what used to be a gated community of big banks. With the emergence of PayPal, Square, BitCoin and now Coin, the threat to the traditional financial industry is not only real, but tremendously urgent.
Two, the solution is a smart one. Coin is fabricated with a patent-pending magnetic strip that can change depending on what card one wants to use. The battery in Coin, said to last up to two years, powers a small display screen that shows which saved card will be charged, along with its expiration date. Cards are entered into Coin after being swiped on a Square-like dongle plugged into a smartphone. It is bridging wireless digital technologies such as bluetooth and NFC with the physical attributes of traditional cards. You can still swipe the Coin card as you would normally do with a traditional credit card, lowering learning curve and minimizing the impact to established user conventions and behaviours.
This is only one more step closer to a bigger overhaul of our financial world. Soon enough cards may disappear altogether and with it, comes iris or finger print payments, smart watch payments, etc. etc. The internet of things and big data will further facilitate micro-transactions that will change every corner of our world. The future of our financial engagement is super fascinating.
Theo Jansen, a Dutch artist and engineer who created an international sensation by building large mechanisms out of PVC that are able to move on their own, known as Strandbeest. These Strandbeests, living art forms that use no source of power other than the raw kinetic power of the nature, wind and gravity, yet displaying amazingly complex lifelike movements, stunned us by the ingenuity of design and engineering. Yet at the same time these creatures reminded us just how little we know about the power of creativity. We love the Strandbeests because we couldn’t imagine they were possible!
Theo Jansen claims himself to be a Great Pretender. He almost possesses the power of creating life forms, a god like power with very little at hand; no computers, no touch screens, no nuclear energy, no radio waves…yet his creation greatly resembles living and breathing life forms. Imagine what we can do with all the advanced technologies.
Theo Jansen may be a great pretender of god. Modern humanity has the real power of god. Soon enough we will be amazed by our very own creations of robots, artificial intelligence that resembles real humans and exceed all our imaginations. The question is then what?
With the power of creativity, we may no longer pretend to be gods. We will become gods of the world. Before that day comes, we should think hard and be prepared, the responsibilities we have and what the future will bring us.
Cambridge researcher Aubrey de Grey argues that aging is merely a disease — and a curable one at that. Humans age in seven basic ways, he says, all of which can be averted. Aubrey de Grey, British researcher on aging, claims he has drawn a roadmap to defeat biological aging. He provocatively proposes that the first human beings who will live to 1,000 years old have already been born.