Tired of Wow 11:50 on Tuesday
Last night I attended Mobile Monday on Flash Lite. Risto Lähdesmäki from Idean Research was there to present some of their proto work for mobile UIs. Hopes were high, after all he introduced Idean as the number one mobile usability research lab in the world. I was disappointed to find their address book concept was yet another demo trying to wow the users.
Call me old fashioned, but I’m not into wow. Wow is short-lived. It’s a selling point, not an usability argument. For a closer look into this dualism, read Bruce Tognazzini’s article on the OS X Dock.
But my gut feeling tells me Wow fares well in short-term user testing. If the wow is in place, a week or two of testing easily confirms that people are enthusiastic about a product. In a longer test term, let’s say six months, the wow wears off. The early enthusiasm over a cool new toy disappears when you actually need to use it for other than showing off to your friends.
I’m not against wow itself, I’m against wow without substance. Lähdesmäki said the “old way” of designing products was to combine skills and luck, and the new, better way is to combine skills and research. I agree. The question is however, how can we create products that have the wow factor and provide substance in long-term use, and still be able to reliably test them? Are strong vision and deep belief all the ingredients we have at our disposal?