SXSWi: 20 Ways to Woo Your Users


Kathy Sierra packed the house again with her presentation.

She said people become kick ass at things they do because they have the ability to practice. Skill is directly related to practice. So even aging brains can learn and grow simply by practice.

Here are some of her ways to get your brain to pay attention.

Use telepathy. This creates mirror neurons. Mirror neurons create a simulation in your own brain of what someone else is experiencing. But sim resolution depends on you. The more you’ve experienced something in reality, the more you understand the simulation. The way you visualize yourself doing something matters. You want to “see” what you would actually see.

Serendipity. Brains are pattern matchers. People feel that things are not random because they find patterns. Add randomness to help serendipity.

The dog ears design principle. Feel more alive by using real-life physics in animation and photographs.

Create joy. Make products that produce joy. To the brain joy is the most important part of the product.

Inspire first person language. It isn’t about you. Get users to talk about themselves. Look at your testimonials.

Tee shirt first development. What does the tee shirt say about someone that they are one of your users? What does it say about them?

Easter Eggs. Leave little treats for your users. Good book: Smile in the Mind.

Tools for evangelizing. Help people justify why they are so passionate about something. (Henry Jenkins talked about this too.)

Help your user manage stress. Nobody kicks ass when they are really stressed. Stress dumps out chemicals that are not devoted to thought. Site: Stresseraser. Makes deep breathing a video game. Help them manage the fight/flight response.

Exercise the brain. The best help to improve brain performance is physical exercise. Work out and get better.

Give users superpowers quickly. Get people enabled. Then speed up their knowledge growth. Expert knowledge is about having patterns. Helping people grasp patterns can help them become expert.

Make your product react to users feelings. She covered this last year. People who are experts reinvest mental resources in new problems that will help them learn more. Experts keep adding new interesting things to learn. They never stop.

Allow people the chance to focus. Devote all of your attention to certain things. Create a culture of support. Get people becoming mentors. There are no dumb answers. Encourage answers. Don’t insist on inclusivity. Experts can talk to experts without having to mentor newbies but somewhat advanced newbies can mentor complete newbies.

The online world has raised the value of real things. It’s all about the package. Unboxing your package is the new experience. The physical object matters. Etsy. Make. Chumby.

Her guest which she hyped the whole time up to now. The guy she says it kicking it big time. Gary of a wine tasting show. What Gary does is make his viewers entertaining, which kicks ass.

Reading over this it is pretty choppy. I wanted to get down her main points, but without her visuals and her explanations it doesn’t tell you a lot. It’s worth the price of a conference to hear her speak, if you ever get the chance.

More SXSWi photos on Flickr.

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