Sunday, January 05, 2014

Seamless experience

Designing a seamless cross channel experience is a hot area in UX these days.  A recent NNGrouparticle is typical of the movement.  The idea has a lot of merit of course.  There are many use cases where we start a task on the computer and finish it on a mobile device or some similar combination like that. 

We can shop online, find what we want, and then go to the store.  We might need to look it up on our mobile to retrieve a coupon, to remember what model we had decided on, to check that the price was still the same . . . .   We can be watching a movie on our PC, have to go to work, and want to pick up where we left off when we get home from the home network or on the train on our tablet. 

But here is my question.  In the NNGroup article, Janelle Estes suggests that if we are listening to a radio station online on our mobile while commuting home, when we get home we are going to want it to resume that station.  I disagree.  My mood might have considerably changed by then and I could want something totally different.  Maybe I was in the middle of a different station that morning when I left home and I want that one to resume.  Maybe I want to start up my “relaxing over a cocktail” station. Automatic resuming is not my idea of a seamless experience. 

But of course, some people might want it to resume.  And we might be more likely to want to resume a movie or TV show rather than a radio station.  So there are flavors and varieties of nuance that really make a difference.  So how can we make the experience as seamless as possible while still accounting for all of these differences?  That is the seamless experience that we need to design. 

·         Make some cross channel resumptive options clearly available and make it easy to select any one of them. 
·         Have some profile/case-based options (5pm weekday just home from work) also available, easy to find, and easy to launch.
·         Make it really easy to reject all of these and do something totally different.  
·         And all in an architecture that is not complicated or overwhelming.

I didn’t say it was easy, just that it was what a “seamless experience” really means.