SXSW Interactive

The Kick Ass Curve

The Kick Ass Curve

Originally uploaded by podcastator.

How do you get people rabid about the product you’ve made? Kathy Sierra gave a rousing and focused session on grabbing and maintaining the attention of your users.

Sierra says where there is a passion, there is someone who “kicks ass” — someone who is really good at that particular subject. So with your product, users should be able to jump on it, get good at it, and be able to consistently improve and challenge themselves.

The key to allowing users to get good is how they understand and ultimately use your product. They don’t even have to use it in the exact way you want them to; as long as they feel satisfied with what they’re doing, your product is working.

So if they don’t understand how to use it, how do they learn? In your documentation, promote ‘understanding’, not just a reference guide to using your product. If you tie in with your users’ emotions, they will take the time to learn your product, and in kind will evangelize for you and teach their friends about it.

If people aren’t good at your product, what keeps them hanging around? Sierra offers 1), a clear picture of what it takes to be good at it; 2), steps for getting there; and 3), a good time along the way. Sierra has a background in the video game world, and referred to how successful the gaming concept of ‘levels’ is to maintaining user interest and passion: grabbing a user’s attention when they start a new level, offering them a challenging activity, rewarding them with a small payoff if they succeed at that activity/level, grabbing their attention on the next level, and on and on.

Your goal should be to figure out how to maintain that challenge that keeps your users dedicated to you. They don’t want to know how great your company is, or how great you think your product is. They want to kick ass; they want you to teach them about how to do that, not how to use the product exactly how you want them to.


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