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Creating Passionate Users


Domains to learn from:

  • hollywood
  • cognitive science
  • neurobiology
  • a whole bunch more and the slide just flipped


This talk was given in 3.5 hours at etech.


people with a passion show off, learn, continuously improve, connect, spend time, elevate the meaning, evangelize, spend money


passionate users: irrational. "fishing is not about the fish" "golfing isn't really about the game"


##Reverse-engineering passion



where there is passion: koolaid point, continous improvement, clear picture of expertise, storiues/people, path/steps to expertise, tribe items, community, ways to spend money, SECRET ITEM ON LIST


where there is passion, there is a user kicking ass. no one is passionate about something they suck at. how long does it take for someone to stop sucking at whateveR? passion requires continuous improvement. "flow" most people stop at the "i suck at this phase" and won't become passionate until they get further up the knowledge and expertisee curve.


Learning increases resolutoin - if you learn about wine, it changes wine. How can we raise the resolution of the user experience?


What are passionate users continuously learning? Are they getting better at learning about the tools? No, it's not about the tools but the actions taken with them. Big mistake: companies help users learn more about the tool. Users don't want to kick ass at the tool, they want to kick ass at doing things. Nikon "choose your passion" site held up as example of this done right where companies get it wrong.


what if you make trash bags? psychology concept: "misattribution of arousal". If you're having a good time and doing many things, your brain doesn't know what specific part about it is great, so it figures it is *all* great.


Red Bull: users don't want to know abot ingredients. Music Academy! Aaron does this shit!


What can you help someone get better at? What can P.NET HELP PEOPLE GET BETTER AT?


The brain has a crap filter trying to keep you from remembering things. "not important not important not important". How do we get past this?


Example: you care abot your thermodynamics test but no matter how many times you reaed the chapter your brain says "not important not important" and then some hottie walks by and your brain says IMPORTANT. problem.


Novelty and pattern-breaking get our attention. A bit of talking about brains evolved to react to faces. Face+text good. Images with a story, that lead your brain to say "what is this?"


Are you leading your users on a story or just laying it all out neatly? Making them say "hm?" gets their attention.


BBrain cares more about conversational language than formal language. Even something as simple as changing "the user" etc to "you" helps retention lots.


"How do we talk to the brain and not the mind?"


Now that we have their attention, how do we keep them on the kickass curve? People doing things the old way even if there's a better better way don't want to go through another "i suck phase". how do we keep them going up the curve?




  • A way to recognizeexpertise
  • a meaningful benefit
  • a clear path to getting there


Example: look at the map of copper mountain. My goodness, if i could ski double diamond runs, so much terrain would be opened to me! I must practice and improve my skill by skiing more single diamonds.


What do you communicate to users? Facts-information-understanding continuum.. Too manny things are stuck in facts-land when they should be in understanding-land.


2 ways to make ppl remember things: time & repetition, or the shortcut of connecting it to emotions.




we keep users engaged.


Ref. the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalti. Best book she can recommend for understanding how to keep people engaged. You are in flow when you lose sense of time. The reason you stay in flow is because you believe you are just so close to success. Programmer example: yuo always think you are one compile away from solving your problem, then 5 hours pass.


(perceived) Challenge on y axis, knowledge and skill on x axis. 45% line is the flow state.

balance the challenging and skill is the trick.


  • what could users do in FLOW?
  • Is there a continuing challenge?
  • Can you help them meet the challenge?


Something ike Basecamp helps her meet the challenge of whatever, get in flow about whatever she is doing by getting the hell out of her way. Not about the tools about the task.


What do we learn from *game developers*?


Experience spiral: build interest, challenging activity, payoff, and back to build interest again over and over forever. illustrated as arrow in circle. Games have the concept of levels. Anything can use this concept. What's the next level? Leveling keeps people engaged. What are our levels and how do people level?


People display their martial arts belts.


Levels don't have to be explicit and obvious like martial arts or skiing. What are the levels in photography? Dog training? Web design?


What do filmmakers and novelists know?


User as Hero. On classic hero's journey, our role is to be helpful mentor or sidekick when they meet initial challenge. But what happens when they defeat challenge? How have they changed? What is the new normal that they return to? Map out the journey.


user treat+ granularity - rather than writing FREE TRADE RULEs on his hand, singer of coldplay puts 2 bars on hand, is logo. Then people ask "what do the bars on mr. coldplay's hand mean?" and in-the-know folks also use answer to that as currency.


This woman is in love with apple computer company cupertino california.


Showed "world is on fire" video. Meaning with a capital M. Doesn't have to have a big social meaning though, for someone to identify with it.


Her metric for success of Java language was that the tshirts were selling out.


"T-shirt first development". The more tribe items there are the better. "yard gnome phenomenon" is people showing off their tribe items. Pictures of people using their ipods on ipodlounge. 3600 pics, 4.7 million views. AMAZING but ridiculous when you think about it. Is that something that happens after the passion builds up? or is it that they become more passionate because you give them tribe items!?


sheep? cult? when users being attacked for drinking the koolaid then CONGRATS YOU HAVE ARRIVED. You're never going to please the ppl that hete you. stay out of the middle between love and hate. you want people to both LOVE and HATE you, not the middle.


the secret: it doesn't matter what they think about you. it's not about you at all. it's not about what you do/provide. it's about how your users feel about themselves. don't talk about your company, how great you are, how great your product is. forget about it. laser focus - how can i help users get up the kickass curve and know that they can go up that kickass curve. flow=joy. people describe time in flow as the happiest times of their lives.

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