Kathy Sierra – Cognitive Seduction 3.5

What I’ve talked about in the past, is how to get people’s attention.
This time, taking to the next step – what really turns the brain on.

Why are you here?
The more communication paths we have to getting information, the less likely you are to be at an event like this! So why are we here today?

Probably more than any other group – you’re the ones that make the tools that make face to face stuff not essential any more, and yet you’re here!

Is it to get laid?

To make better apps, we must compensate for the missing ‘human-ness’.

there’s something – as real time and ambient as our apps are.

We have to help out users get together offline.
Make our software act more like a human.

Has had past issues with Twitter, but it’s increasing a level of intimacy between people who’ve never met before and that’s amazing.

There’s something human in our software.

Our brains filter out a lot of stuff.
Stuff that we feel, get through. If your brain feels a surge of chemistry, it gets through the bandwidth filter.

The brian responds to novelty, anything that’s not quite what you expect.
Bunny Suicides.
The brain pays attention to mystery – things that are not fully resolved. Anything that invokes our curiousity is very compelling to the brain.
Thrill is motivating to the brain.
Quote from Diane Ackerman – Deep Play.  …”an ancient pleasure that may lie at the heart of thrill-seeking”.

Michael Lopp, Apple – “it’s not secrecy, it’s theatre”.

Key point – we need to the user’s brain rather than conscious mind.

Where there is passion, there is a user kicking ass!

Hates overloading words like passion and community – been much abused.
Passion is defined by the fact that you want to keep going, and growing and doing it more – keep learning, and I keep getting better so I get a higher resolution experience.

Parts of the brain light up when people who study or play music listen to it – they have a richer experience because they hear more things.

Kathy not so much of a musician but a bit of a fader geek! Would love to get hands on mixing board at gigs. Daughter had listened to Radiohead before, but after seeing live at gig, swears she heard more the nex time she used it.

For Tantek, wine is just a one-bit experience 🙂 For wine snobs, they have a richer, deeper experience because they are better at it.

How do you get people through that phase? The learning ….

It’s not about the tools we build – that’s not going to make us better.
Getting good at usability and user experience – that’s not the point. People don’t want to better at the tools, but what the tools enable them to do. Choosing the right menu items is not going to excite them.
Even if we make simple tools, they come passionate about the thing our tools lets them DO.
And if that happens, then our tool gets to ride along.

Photographers don’t want to be camera experts, they want to be expert photographers.

Think: what do you help your users kick ass at.

Software development processes…
Waterfall, Spiral and Rapid models – what’s next?
UX design next phase – the apps knew what I wanted it to do.

Goes back to testing with monkeys and brain mapping.
Mirror neurons allow us to run simulations of another person’s brain. We have ‘telepathy neurons’ which see what people are feeling and thinking and then simulate it ourselves. We understand it.
We can mind-read people’s next moves – we need to activate this.

If you really want to see how users are responding to your app, you need to ‘see’ them – reports and stats won’t deliver this.

When you see something you’ve experienced personally, more of your brain lights up (picture of snowboarder on stage
If you’re going to be a better designer, need to have prior experience to – can’t just observe users, need to have done that thing we’re asking our users to do so we can respond more accurately.

Feelings matter way more than thoughts – particularly when something goes wrong. Think about how you feel when you use say, a travel website, when it goes wrong.
Are you thinking oops or bastards!

Ideally, you need to see real customers in action using your apps. Difficult when you’re a small start-up perhaps, but very important.

Make your apps seem psychic!
You can make a confused face that means something in real life, but the computer won’t respond.
Need to give apps a way to know when user is confused. Know when user is feeling lost.
There is actually some advanced research going on with people doing facial expression recognition. An easier way, get the users to tell us – WTF?
Let users tell you!! Anticipate it.

Make your software do more ‘human things’.

So to answer the question, why are we here?
One of things that seems to be coming up all the time when scientists look at why we are here.
We have senses that matter deeply – especially touch. Our skin is important.
If I make a product that exists purely in bits, is there anything I can do that gives them something to touch? Atoms still matter.

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3 Responses to “Kathy Sierra – Cognitive Seduction 3.5”


  1. 1 Ash Loudon February 29, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Fantastic presentation. What a great start to the day.

  2. 2 Keonne March 5, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    This was the best presentation of the entire day.

    Today we have set up 4 30 minute blocks of usability testing so we can SEE how they interact with our software.

    Thanks Kathy. I hope you put this presentation online in full.


  1. 1 links for 2008-03-01 | Flamingo House Happenings Trackback on March 1, 2008 at 12:34 am

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