seen + learned

Notes from FutureM Boston: “The Future of the Web User Experience”

Posted: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 | Posted by Tania Schlatter | Labels: ,

On October 6, I attended part of MITX's FutureM program, where Bill Albert, director of Bentley University's Design and Usability Center, and Moira Dorsey, an analyst at Forrester, spoke with Weymouth Design President and CEO Tom Anderson about what the future might hold for web user experience design and content. Here are my notes from the talks.

Moira Dorsey

  • New forms of technology start by emulating older forms (like the "horseless carriage"), and then evolve.
  • Online experience has yet to find its true form.
  • 70% of US consumers prefer "rich" interactions (Forrester statistic).
  • Framework for the future: CARS - Customized, Aggregated, Relevant, Social.
  • Cool example: Wikitude augmented reality travel guide
  • User research is the key to knitting together experiences across channels.
  • Customer experience maps are a good tool used to help as well.
Moira's presentation is posted here on the Forrester site.

Bill Albert
  • There are a lot of new tools to help collect quantitative and qualitative data – help designers and businesses get a clearer picture.
  • New tools facilitate micro-studies – can test at the pixel-level.
  • Do users trust your site? Find it attractive? The devil is in the details.
  • In the UX industry, Bill sees a shift from usability to persuasion – usability beyond the web to all communications.
  • "Usable" is no longer enough.
  • Studies on user experiences – example of four ads for Fidelity. The promotion that was the least ad-like (no image, no background color) got the most clicks
Bill's presentation in a .pdf is here

Thoughts and question

These were very solid presentations that complemented each other well. Both talked about how design is no longer about the web – it goes beyond to all channels, and research with users is key to getting the UX across channels right.

At the end, I was thinking about the 70% that Moira mentioned prefer "rich experiences" and the majority of testers Bill mentioned who selected the Fidelity ad that was the most plain, and asked, "How can the difference between these seemingly extreme examples be reconciled?"

Bill and Moira's answer was that the plain ad was central to helping people accomplish a task – a serious one about retirement planning. It goes back to data. An example of "rich" is Google Maps. If the "richness" is too fancy that is a problem. My take away is this: data + rich + simplicity = happy users.


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