On Sunday, I gave a talk at WordCamp Orange County on how creating a positive user experience makes your WordPress product better. The name of the talk is a hat tip to the “Ladies and gentlemen, the back side of water!” joke from the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. That’s because it was on a recent trip to Disneyland that I realized the reason I keep going back to Disneyland (and as you can see from that picture, I started young) was because the user experience was so amazing.
So I identified five basic principles of user experience (plus a bonus one, so technically six) that Disneyland excels at. I wanted to share how product developers can take those lessons and create some of the same magic and customer loyalty. (Also, it gave me a chance to look through pictures from the 70’s and 80’s.)
I know most people post slides after a WordCamp, but I’m always bummed when I look at them because without context, it’s hard to make sense out of them. If you want to watch the talk, it’ll eventually be posted with the rest of the WCOC videos. (While you’re waiting, check out some of the other speakers. I can’t wait to watch Andrea Middleton’s talk!) In the meantime, here are the highlights:
1. User interface
This is what people think of first when you bring up user experience. I talk about how the park was designed so every land was positioned off of a central hub, and how even after the product has added new features over the years (like Mickey’s Toontown), they’ve kept the same basic layout. I also talked about the recent Virgin America airline booking interface. I strongly suggest checking out its awesomeness!
You don’t notice accessibility until you need it. I first noticed accessibility at Disneyland when I went with my wife who had broken her ankle. From the “two fingers” pointing rule (in certain cultures it’s rude to point with one finger)to the kennels for service dogs at ride entrances, Disneyland excels at anticipating a guest’s needs before they’re even aware of them.
3. Documentation & Support
At Disneyland, you can literally ask a cast member anything. Seriously. What year was the Franco-Prussian war? What’s the chemical compound for Silly Putty? Why doesn’t Donald Duck wear pants? And the cast member has to make every effort they can to answer your question. (So they’re like StudioPress)
Documentation not only improves user experience, it also improves your experience. Simple, clear documentation written in a way your audience can understand saves you time and frustration too—with fewer support tickets.
If you’re hired to be Mickey Mouse, you go to a special calligraphy class so you know how to sign Mickey Mouse’s signature. For 50 years, his autograph has been the same. Be consistent—not just with your user interface (although that’s good, too), but also be consistent in everything you do and everything you say. Make sure people know what to expect, and they’ll never feel frustrated or confused when using your product.
The best user experiences are invisible. Don’t get all up in someone’s face. Be authentic, helpful, and anticipate your users needs, but stay in the background until they ask for you.
*I’m pretty bummed that I forgot to include one of my favorite Disney stories on invisibility—Disneyland is home to a whole bunch of feral cats. Who are allowed to stay because they eat rats. Taking two problems and turning it into a benefit. That’s some invisible problem solving right there :D
Bonus: Surprise & Delight
All of those things create a good user experience. You’ve kept them from getting lost and frustrated with your user interface, made sure your product was accessible, created helpful documentation and support, and been consistent and invisible. But you’re still not magical. When you go above and beyond. The magic ingredient is what we call “surprise and delight”.
So I talked about the sign in honor of the old Eeyore parking lot in line at the Indiana Jones ride and the motor oil bottles abandoned on Route 66 being turned into a beautiful wall in line on the Cars ride (I know… that’s technically California Adventure, but I love it so) And because I can’t let a presentation go by without giving them a shout-out, I talked about how Flywheel sends out handwritten notes to customers.
I hope people left with the message I was trying to deliver: that all the facts and figures and research we do are very valuable. But the goal of collecting all that data is to create an experience that leaves them feeling happy. That ultimately creating a user experience is about emotion. I really hope you guys are able to take these ideas and use them to create a little magic for your product!