A Book Review of Designing the Digital Experience

Designing the Digital ExperienceMy publisher just told me about a review of my book Designing the Digital Experience, and I thought I’d share it with you. The review was published in New Library World (Vol 111, No. 7/8, pg 359-360), and was written by Sarah McNicol.

She nailed it (and I’m not just saying that because it was a positive review). Here’s the start of the review:

“David Lee King is a librarian at the Topeka & Shawnee Country Public Library in Kansas, but he also writes an excellent blog (www.davidleeking.com) on emerging trends in library web sites and digital technology. In this book, he writes in the same accessible and interesting style, focusing on experience design and its role in building web sites. This is not a book about technical specifics, nor a step-to-step guide to building a web site, rather it is a book to make librarians and others, including web developers and marketing professionals, think more deeply about how they design an experience so web site users are “enchanted and captivated.”

Yes! I never intended to write a step-by-step guide to building an experience – how the heck do you do that, anyway? Building experiences, even digital ones, really depends on your individual setting – your staff, your stuff, and your community. My hope is that you read my book, and think. Think about how you can transform a simple website into an interactive experience – much like you already do in your physical buildings.

And … since I’m writing about the book … why not throw in a discount, too? If you buy the book from Information Today before September 5, use this promo code – ITISP. It will give you a discount. Otherwise, buy it from Amazon.

Thanks for reading! And … drumroll please … look for my second book sometime next year! I am a week or so away from sending it to the publisher to do the editing thing to it. Fingers crossed, and more info coming!

It’s the Experience that Matters – Notes from a ULC Webinar

I attended an Urban Libraries Council webinar on the customer experience today – it was good! Here are some of my notes from the session.

Speaker – Melanie Huggins, Richland County Public Library

Stuff I found interesting…

Definitions:
User Experience (UX) – interaction between technology and humans
Customer Experience (CxP) – all aspects of a customer’s interaction with an organization, its product and services

Think about the whole interaction – the before, during, and after – that’s the customer experience.

6 laws of customer experience:

1. Every interaction creates a personal reaction
– An experience designed for everyone satisfies no one. You need to optimize for a specific set of customers (ie., use personas)

2. People are instinctively self-centered
– don’t sell things – help customers buy them
– don’t show your corporate underpants

3. Customer familiarity breeds alignment
– think of your company as a large production crew making the stars (front-line employees) shine on stage (during customer interactions) – nice thought!

4. Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers

5. Employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated
– me – ok. “encented” is a silly word.
– don’t just expect staff to do the right things. Instead, clearly define good behaviors.
– watch for mixed messages

6. You can’t fake it!
– it has to be top priority to be successful
– advertise to reinforce, not create, positioning (ie., job ads)

Definition of brand: a customer’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.

Good stuff!

Designing the Digital Experience at UGame ULearn

Yesterday, I presented Designing the Digital Experience at the UGame ULearn conference … here are my slides! And an fyi – I took notes for the other presentations, and I’ll be posting those in the next couple of days. So stay tuned!

Expressing your Organizational Personality Online

Shmear - is your copy fun & informal?I love how some companies do that “informal language” thing – like Einstein Bros Bagels. Have you seen what they call their cream cheese? They call it “shmear.” Because you “shmear” it onto your bagel, right?

When businesses do that type of thing – use informal slang, or informal visuals in signage, or even when they always do certain things the same way – they are expressing their organizational personality.

What do I mean by organizational personality? Well – have you ever walked into a store, a business, even a restaurant … and felt the “vibe” of the place? Suddenly felt like you needed to whisper, for example? Or the atmosphere of the place felt light and lively, and immediately put a smile on your face?

Those businesses are most likely aware of that vibe … and have even planned for it. When they focus on creating certain types of consistent experiences, and on consistent touch points, they are expressing their organizational personality.

And once that personality is created, an organization can consistently express it everywhere – in a storefront, online, out of the office, even in print material.

Does your organization have a personality? You bet. Do you know what it is, and how to express it in different venues? Probably not, I’m guessing. Libraries are a great example of this. For many of us, the in-the-library personality is expressed as a fun, casual, maybe even sometimes inspirational one – smiles, helpful staff, colorful books, etc. That adds up to a light, informal, casual-but-hip organizational personality.

But when you visit the library’s website, you get a different personality entirely. Frequently, the website isn’t fun at all – instead, it’s all columns, formality, staid colors, and no friendly chatter at all. Very different personality from the in-the-library experience, isn’t it?

Give it some thought – figur out what your organization’s personality is, and how it’s being expressed. Then work on making that organizational personality consistent everywhere. It’ll add up to a better, more consistent experience for your customers.

Showing Patrons the Door

First, a funny story. When I lived in Nashville, I frequented a cool used record store. During one trip, I was trying to decide whether or not to buy a couple of old jazz cassette tapes (hey – I was on a tight budget).

The tiny shelf these cassette tapes were on was packed WAY too tightly, so when I tried to pull one cassette out to examine it, 2-3 others would fall out at the same time. And make lots of noise as they hit the floor (it was tile, of course). This happened a couple of times … in a row … and was pretty embarrassing!

So – to ease my embarrassment at not being able to figure out how to successfully pull a cassette tape off the shelf, a “helpful” shop security guard came over to me. He stood behind me, stared at me for a second, and said (and I quote) – “you’ve got 10 minutes, then you’d better be out of my store.” Then he walked away.

Boy, that helped. Thanks :-) That day, the store essentially “showed me the door” in no uncertain terms. Even though the problem wasn’t me – it was their tightly-packed shelf.

Now on to the title of this post, and to my point. Showing patrons the door? Yikes – we’d never do that (under normal circumstances, anyway)! Unlike the silly used record shop, librarians would never consciously walk up to a patron and tell them to leave if that patron was having trouble using something in the library … right?

I think we DO sometimes tell our patrons to leave when we make things difficult for them. We might as well be saying “here’s the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out.”

For example, if your library has a blog, do you moderate those comments? Quickly? I know of libraries that can go 1-2 weeks before they get around to moderating comments. In and of itself, moderating a comment is fine, as long as they are moderated fast (like within 1-4 hours). Blog posts are supposed to be the start of a conversation; comments continue that conversation. If those comments aren’t approved at least in the same day, you have essentially killed that conversation. To me, that sounds like showing patrons the door.

Is your website confusing? Do customers have to puzzle out what they need to do next while on your site? If so … your website is showing patrons the door. Same with our catalogs – a confusing catalog might just steer customers away from checking stuff out – and that’s one of our major, must-have services!

Do you let patrons sign up for a library card online (some libraries don’t)? How about having an online sign-up form that asks for WAY too much info? That’s a sure-fire way to show patrons the door.

What labels and naming schemes do you use on your site? Using heavy-duty librarian jargon might just be a great way to usher patrons towards the door.

How about not having a Facebook Page (or even blocking Facebook altogether)? Or simply doubting that your patrons use Facebook (without actually signing up for a Facebook account and checking)? Yet another way to show a group of very active, involved patrons the door.

Other ways to show patrons the door might include hard to find stuff on your website, hidden content, or even library services that aren’t mentioned anywhere on your website.

So – what do you think? What else shows patrons the door, and how can we fix that?

Pic by Cayusa