SxSW: Creating Passionate Users

by March 12, 2006

At SxSW2006 Kathy Sierra talked about bringing the principles behind good game design to software design. Here are some of her suggestions for Creating Passionate Users for your product:

  • Create a compelling picture of what success looks like -what does it mean to be really good at something.
  • Provide a clear picture of success and a series of steps to get there.
  • Make sure you have a meaningful benefit.
  • Most technology products provide facts & data (reference material). You need to provide real support.
  • A lot of our brain's effort goes to forgetting things in order to keep us sane. There are two ways to get people to remember things: repetition or a strong emotional connection (see Dan Gilbert’s summary for more on this).
  • The state of flow happens when you believe that you can accomplish something that.
  • Game designers work hard to put people into the flow state through a balance of challenge and knowledge/skill.
  • You can't make things too easy. People need to perceive they can accomplish something yet the challenge is growing.

Get their attention, build interest (find something motivating), let them experience a challenging activity (experience), provide a payoff.

  • The payoff needs to match the challenge (concept of levels in games).
  • Think about levels for your product. How frequent are your levels? Better to have gradual growth than on big payoff.
  • Often need to tweak levels (adjust to keep people going).
  • Makes you user the hero. Describe to your team how users will change as a result of using your product.
  • Meaningful benefit: meaningful can be small scale.
  • Everything with passion - becomes tribes. “T-shirt first development” provides users an opportunity to identify with a tribe.
  • Think about how do you make users insiders?
  • Find users people can identify with (a key figure or character).
  • The secret is: it doesn't matter what they think of you; its about how they feel about themselves.
  • Give people an "I Rule" experience