Lazy rules


Consumers don’t want the best; they just want good enough.

Thus suggests Jordan Julien in “Designing for the Lazy,” where he addresses the tension between marketers wanting to offer nuanced interfaces and customers just trying to get by. “The fact of the matter is,” Julien writes, “most people don’t want to optimize their decision-making process. They want to satisfy their current need and move on. This time-saving mentality is what the majority of UX architects & strategists have to consider when creating online experiences.”

A classic example is the online lead form. Consumers are asked to input information, but if they have any uncertainty at all about what will happen during or after the process, they will retreat. The main reason prospects fail to interact with you, Julien suggests, is not lack of trust, but simply they don’t want to waste time. Web usability guru Steve Krug has suggested the same in his classic 2000 book “Don’t Make Me Think.” The history of marketing is cluttered with complex failures than didn’t meet customers’ simple expectations: The Ford Edsel. The :CueCat. And today, dare we say it, soon-to-be-replaced Foursquare, QR Codes, and cable-television interfaces.

How to respond? Julien says design as if you want to help lazy people be even lazier. Don’t believe us; if you want to see simplicity succeed, check Google.

4 thoughts on “Lazy rules

  1. Right up there with the impotence of abundance. Choice and options can drive us crazy. Make decisions and move on. As for check ins and scanner stuff. Not sure they will disappear, but rather be relegated to more basic functional uses.

  2. It’s all about incentives – if you can’t hit the optimum lazy point (Google, Craigslist) then at least offer juicy fruits & rewards. Feed the lizard brain.

    Foursquare has continued to lag on this. Get businesses onboard to help plus the interactions, or get busy dying.

  3. Edward and Hank, thanks.

    To clarify, I don’t think the dynamics behind Foursquare and QR Codes will disappear entirely — but they are merely usability *features,* not independently sustainable services, in my mind. GPS location is a nice add-on to existing consumer interactions, but to try to make it a “portal” for consumer behavior — the thing in and of itself that people are expected to do — is a level of complexity that likely won’t succeed. This is why, I believe, Foursquare et al are using so many silly gaming devices, because you need a game hook to get people to play.

    As I tweeted to you Edward, someone once wrote it is easier to influence existing consumer behavior than to build new behaviors. People want to act on impulses simply and easily, and only if they are close to the path they typically follow. The :CueCat was what we called in Vermont “a long way around the barn,” and many modern media channels require too much complexity to make it easy for people to just get what they want.

    A few examples: Twitter took off because it was a simpler, briefer version of email (really, email without the clutter and commitment to respond), and email in turn rose because it mirrored old-fashioned letter writing. Facebook was a scrapbook. Cell phone were phones, and smart phones were better cell phones. Time and again, what really scales is a modification of past human behavior, not an entirely new process that people must learn to do.

    It’s a good test for any campaign dynamic.

  4. Agree with overall sentiment of this post. We constantly need to remind ourselves that our audience is not ourselves. Most people are lazy and don’t want to participate, unless it’s easy and there is a compelling incentive. Reminds me of a post I wrote for TNGG last year: http://www.thenextgreatgeneration.com/2010/01/13/marketing-to-millennials/.

    As for QR, I don’t think it is the final answer, but I do think some form of activation is here to stay. Readers are being built into almost all new devices released to the market. In my opinion, QR is a necessary teaching mechanism to inform consumers that they can get more from static things. Eventually, it will all be image recognition based. Aesthetic quality of content will not be ruined by code. However, to your point Ben, people will activate only when content unlocked provides real utility, saves time, and/or gives incentives.

    I think the LBS space will be dominated by Facebook and/or Google. They have the data and people are regularly using their services for something other than a frivolous check-in. Will also require incentives. Facebook Deals is on the right track, but not the final solution.

    Thanks for this post Ben.

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