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Designing For Purpose

Applying Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) to UX design to break out of the stimulus-response trap. Users have ultimate goals: by testing and designing for their purpose instead of simple design response, UX professionals can better promote our products.

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Designing For Purpose

  1. 1. Designing for Purpose Applying Perceptual control theory (PCT) to better know, empower, and engage users Alex O’Neal UX strategist/architect
  2. 2. Under discussion <ul><li>What is Perceptual Control Theory? </li></ul><ul><li>PCT and user experience </li></ul><ul><li>Looking at experience from the inside out </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User-driven perceptual input </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard user “empowerment” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IRL (in real life) interaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Empowerment correlated with loyalty </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Designing for purpose </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Distraction-based design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Successful networks support goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revealing purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Testing for purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><li>User experience design as a contract </li></ul><ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li>About this presentation </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is Perceptual Control Theory? * <ul><li>Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) steps away from treating people as subjects in a stimulus-response scenario, and focuses instead on how pre-conceptions and personal needs motivate perception and behavior. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PCT focuses on how we look at and experience things, and the way these perceptions are compared with experiences we want. The difference produces action and physiology. Thus PCT explains how thoughts become actions, feelings and results, and its principles can be applied to any activity involving human experience.* </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Applied to UX, PCT assumes that user behavior is goal-driven, and seeks to find and leverage goals to increase engagement and usefulness. </li></ul>
  4. 4. PCT and user experience PCT assumes that human behavior is purposeful, not simple stimulus-response. * Organisms do not produce behavior by computing output. Instead, they produce behavior by comparing inputs with desired inputs, and using the difference to drive output.* Let’s replace “input” with “experience.” Organisms do not produce behavior by computing output. Instead, they produce behavior by comparing [experience] with desired [experience], and using the difference to drive output.* In other words, humans are active, goal-driven participants in their experience. UX design should seek to understand and leverage user goals to increase engagement and usefulness.
  5. 5. Looking from the inside out <ul><li>User-driven perceptual input </li></ul><ul><li>Standard user “empowerment” </li></ul><ul><li>IRL (in real life) interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Empowerment correlated with loyalty </li></ul>
  6. 6. User-driven perceptual input * From Valdis Krebs, social network guru. Krebs based this on Amazon book purchases combined with “also bought” data to demonstrate political polarization. I offer it as a prime example of how humans control our own perceptual input/ personal experience. 2004 2008 *
  7. 7. Standard user “empowerment” <ul><li>Most user empowerment appears in: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content privacy and sharing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Profile appearance (skins, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In most content control systems, the user is seen as the smallest piece in an ever-widening system. </li></ul><ul><li>Standard design tactics include: </li></ul><ul><li>Friending (trusting) </li></ul><ul><li>Blocking </li></ul><ul><li>Following </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy levels: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Private (self only) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharing with friends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharing with site members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharing with the public </li></ul></ul>Private/ Self Friends/ Connections Site members (optional) Public
  8. 8. IRL interaction <ul><li>In real life, a balance of purpose and need drives information sharing. </li></ul><ul><li>For the user, personal experience is the world. Behavior comes from constant, underlying analysis of immediate needs and the ongoing goal of optimizing perceptual input. For example: </li></ul><ul><li>Trust and sharing behavior varies among individuals, even in the same activity (work, play). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Trust often occurs out of need, not closeness (e.g., doctors) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trusted, close friends may not get a share due to purpose considerations (e.g., not sharing insider work data) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Even among close friends and family, purpose drives what we choose to share. </li></ul>Coworkers Trusted acquaintances (e.g., doctors) Family Private Self Close friends Self Professional network PURPOSE NEED
  9. 9. Empowerment correlated with loyalty <ul><li>Two major social networks greatly empower their users’ control of experience; not surprisingly, both have high user loyalty. </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Offers custom friend lists since Dec. 2007. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhanced customizable friend viewing, May 2009. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Highly personalized content & activities via apps. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>LiveJournal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Offers custom friend groups (since at least 2003) and friend filters based on those groups. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offers customizable themes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is steadily increasing in traffic (4.7 million unique visitors in July 2009 compared to 3.9 million in July 2008*). </li></ul></ul>*
  10. 10. Designing for purpose <ul><li>Distraction-based design </li></ul><ul><li>Successful networks support goals </li></ul><ul><li>Revealing purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Testing for purpose </li></ul>
  11. 11. Distraction-based design <ul><li>Much of design is based not on what users want to do on the page, but on what we want them to do next. Don’t miss the forest for the trees! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Advertising, snipes, marketing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoted content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content pages designed more like portals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Can we actually distract users? Do we want to? </li></ul>Coming soon! Can users realize perceptual goals via online networks? Find out on the next slide!
  12. 12. Successful networks support goals Facebook Twitter LinkedIn MySpace Slashdot Google Groups LiveJournal Dating sites Social validation, networking Participating in the moment, being in the know Professional networking, career management Identity development, facade experimentation Discussion around shared interest, ego validation Browse, learn and share knowledge Personal expression with well-managed groups Matchmaking, romantic self-validation
  13. 13. Revealing purpose <ul><li>PCT can be useful in understanding your users’ perspective via web analytics. Survey, observe, and watch for reveals (purpose-displaying behavior). Good places to start: </li></ul><ul><li>Study traffic flow, incoming and on-site </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze internal search keywords and tagging to understand your users’ personal taxonomies. (Remember, taxonomy is context!) </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct surveys </li></ul><ul><li>Study patterns of behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that most users arrive with a goal, but some are more aware than others. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Testing for purpose <ul><li>Concept and site testing can also be improved by applying PCT principles. </li></ul><ul><li>Break away from stimulus-response testing design. </li></ul><ul><li>Actions speak louder than words. Weight behavior over self-reported opinion in analysis. </li></ul><ul><li>Empower your test subjects. </li></ul><ul><li>Start your testing a step in advance of the page/site/application you are testing. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Remember that user experience is a contract between you and the user. </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze and test for purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Empower your users </li></ul><ul><li>Within the context of your business, make your goals meet your user’s goals </li></ul>Now what? My experience is what I agree to attend to. – William James
  16. 16. References <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  17. 17. About this presentation <ul><li>This deck is the original work of Alex O’Neal, and does not include any material specific to any previous or current employer. Research comes from non-employer sources (see References slide). </li></ul><ul><li>The customized template and photographs are the original work of Alex O’Neal. </li></ul><ul><li>Alex (that’s me!) is a user experience designer with a summa cum laude degree in psychology, over eleven years of web design experience (IA, usability, strategy, and search), and online taxonomy & metadata experience as far back as 1991. </li></ul>