Experience matters – that’s the key idea for our employee self-service product. The big question is: how much does experience actually matter? Think a bit of all the experience and knowledge that you have gathered during the years…… Mind boggling isn’t it? All the experience that I have: as a concept it is something that is truly out of my grasp. The sheer amount of tangible, intangible, conscious and unconscious experience that affects all the decisions that we make is just too great to comprehend.
The expression “Experience matters” tries to refer to something new experienced using a particular software. Still, the old experiences have great effect on the new experience caused by the software. So how to limit the effects of this old experience to the new one? There is, of course, no proven way to do this limitation, but certain experiences can be neglected as having only minor effect on the experience. On the other hand, certain experiences have much stronger effect. If you consider for instance time, usually if the experience has not been very traumatizing, more recent experiences have typically more weight when considering how the new experience really feels like. Also, context of the experience has more weight the closer the experience is in context related to the new experience. For instance, usage of computers and different software has usually greater weight to the new experience felt when using an another software, when compared to the weight of for example a skiing trip to the Alps.
Use of software can sometimes draw users’ full attention – like when teenagers play some fairly addictive game. It may seem that nothing can distract them and their full attention is drawn by the game. In this situation, the game can actually fairly well control the current experience spiced up of course with the previous experiences of the teenager. Typically there are, however, plenty of distractions present when using software. If I consider myself in the office, the list of distractions is fairly long: people come to chat fairly often, emails keep popping up, Skype and Communicator chat sing all the time, phone rings from time to time. And that’s only the internal distractions. In addition, in an open office environment there is at least the same amount of external distractions. All these distractions have an effect on the overall experience.
The issues described above are something that we as a software company have no control over. But there are, however, many things that we can control. The self-service product that we are developing is meant to solve certain problems. All people do not have these problems. This starts to limit the amount of different kind of users able to use the channel. We can go further and defined user roles to categorize potential users. And in fact now that I have babbled all along about experience there is already an existing “field” and buzz-word called User experience or UX that has plenty of tools to tackle the issues related to experience of users’ using software products.
Jesse James Garrett has fairly well described the different elements related to User experience in his book. These elements from concrete to abstract include:
- Surface (Visual appeal)
- Skeleton (UI design)
- Structure (Information architecture)
- Scope (Product backlog)
In the future blog entries I try to tackle each of these elements in more detail. Tell more how we face these elements? And what are biggest problems, fallacies and pitfalls related to these elements?
So stay tuned!