Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Intuition Is Not Intuitive.

"I know it will take me months to master maybe 40% of its functionality, so why would I put myself through that?"

A typical and unsurprising comment from some technology focus group research that I saw recently. But what's the solution? Intuitive interfaces for sure. But let's not forget what intuition is - it's defined as immediate cognition. The trouble is cognitive biases mean that cognition (and thus, I assume, intuition) can differ greatly between individuals.

Along with others, I've recently been testing the new xda Orbit 2 from O2. It's elegant, has great audio quality and made me want to use it, but that's where my problems started. I've finally got around to locating a helpful and extensive online pdf instruction manual (sadly not a website). But the crucial "out of the box" experience was, for me, not what it should have been and I understand that some more technically-astute users have also been "unintuitive" - in one case being unable to find a feature that was heavily touted on the website. It's a salient reminder for any company, not just O2.

Supplying a tiny "getting started" instruction booklet may seem like smart, unintimidating marketing but if it leaves a user floundering, it's been counter-productive. I'm a great fan of Apple and many would argue that their interfaces are the most intuitive around, but regardless of he truth of that I'm also very aware that they supply extensive help menus and support materials both in the box and online. It's crucial that you do so what ever your product/service.

The "instruction manual" is your marketing. It's crucial to those two great drivers of product loyalty and love - customer experience and usability. Rule 1 - get average "users" to write it and to do so from the viewpoint of a novice not someone who's been using your product/service for a long time (i.e. you). Indeed, I'd go so far as to argue that you should be thinking about the "instruction manual" while youre creating the product - doing so will stop you overcomplicating both things because if you can't pitch it, nobody will buy it.

The bottom line is this - nothing will turn off a prospective user more than being made to feel stupid or inadequate. People are inherently inquisitive, they like to explore and learn but you have to make it easy for them. Reward their effort with feelings of mastery and they will be hooked, make it difficult (especially at the outset) and they'll stick with what they already know or find a company that understands how they feel.


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