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Posted previously on my blog.

After publishing one of my readers correctly pointed out that the corresponding picture actually features a fist BUMP not a fist PUMP.

My response:

If that's what you took away from the story, you missed the point entirely.

Fist pump. Fist bump. Whatever. Design for that!


"...and then father and son fist pump!" my colleague proudly concluded as the room erupted in laughter and applause. He had just finished sharing his team's three panel sketch on the experience a father and son might have if they signed up for a fictitious program designed to inspire kids to become more physically active.

And now everyone was looking to the front of the room for feedback from Adaptive Path instructors -- Henning Fischer and Jared Cole.

"THAT is what you design for," Henning Fischer declared emphatically, "You design for the fist pump."

Silence followed. I'm not sure if my colleagues were:

* Surprised. Seriously? Design for a father/son fist pump?
* Considering it. Hmm. This guy has something.
* Trying to figure out how they could get a fist pump into their sketch before being asked to share what they had come up with.

I think (hope!) it was a light bulb moment for some people.

I think I can safely say that asking this group to put pen to paper and draw was pretty far outside their comfort zone. And now the exercise was introducing another novel idea (for some of the participants): There is emotion in design.

[Side note: I've written about the power of emotion in design before and I still love Bill Derouchey's presentation.]

What did the group think about the sketch method?

Some of the participants felt the method wouldn't be well received by some of their colleagues -- engineers, developers, scientists. Henning agreed. It doesn't work for all audiences. Bankers are another group who don't do well with sketches.

Others felt the simple act of drawing a stick figure interacting with a website was helpful because it served as a reminder that there ARE people on the other end of the computer.

Sketching the experience--not just what the screens of the website might look like--was also more meaningful for some of the group.

When someone leaves your website what happens? Do they...

* Tell all their friends to sign up for this awesome new video service they've discovered?
* Wait by the mailbox each day anticipating the arrival of the product they purchased?
* Lean back in their swivel chair marveling at how fast they got their work done?

Whatever it is, make sure you remember to design for your own father/son fist pump moment.

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Comment by Megan Ellinger on January 4, 2010 at 1:54pm
I agree with you when you say it's easy to talk about designing for the fist pump when the room is full of user experience professionals. That's what makes this particular exercise so was NOT conducted with a group of UX professionals!

As you point out, some groups don't see customer satisfaction as an imperative. Some never will. This exercise was one of many that Adaptive Path taught us to help us create more light bulb moments. A tool to show how business strategy and design strategy come together to form great UX strategy.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Adaptive Path's philosophy of business strategy + design strategy = UX strategy, you might enjoy reading, "Leveraging Business Value: How ROI Changes User Experience" (free for newsletter subscribers)
Comment by Adam S. Kortepeter on January 4, 2010 at 12:56pm
Good advice, Megan. The challenge, of course, is to communicate the value of the "fist pump" to business stakeholders who ultimately have the power to approve (or hijack) your design. It's easy to talk about designing for the fist pump when you are talking to a room full of user experience professionals, but customer satisfaction remains an intangible that many still consider to be "nice to have" rather than a business imperative. Getting that light bulb to turn on for the skeptics is the greater challenge. It is also very gratifying when it happens.
Comment by Rick Butler on January 4, 2010 at 12:02pm
Wonderful - Megan.

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