Tuesday, August 15, 2006

expert v novice

In-N-Out Burger has a great approach to supporting expert and novices and they do it in a way that creates community as well. They have a very short/simple menu that is perfect for novices. But for experts that want something different, they have an unlisted expert menu. This also supports maximizers because they can have the exact combination they want.

What makes the community - the hidden menu has its own language. People who want to feel 'cool' can use the language so that other customers realize they are an expert customer.

From a pure human factors point of view, the hidden language has great visibility and mapping. For the basic criteria, which compose most of the customization customers will want (my prediction based on no data :-D), the customer simply provides two numbers in the format x by y. X refers to the number of burgers and y to the number of cheese slices. So you can get 5 patties and 3 slices of cheese by saying "5 by 3" Very intuitive, easy to recall, short - all the good usability principles.

But the key question is - "how does one convert from a novice to an expert. If you have friends, that would work. Or is you happen on it on Wikipedia. But in general, there is a whole bunch of service functionality that is invisible.