Have you ever been at a presentation where someone presents their design and walks you through a user story that looks really awesome? By the end of the talk, you are hooked on the concept. Wow, what I can do with that in my toolbox!
This video is a perfect illustration of what I am talking about. It is a presentation by Tim Rodgers from Rehab Studios talking about his vision for the future supermarket experience. The design looks great. And in his user story, it works great. I want it for my next shopping trip.
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But take a step back and read between the lines. Think about what happens when something doesn’t work perfectly.
- In the presentation, the app gives the shopper the one perfect recommendation for what to cook that night for his hot date – right on his smartwatch.
- What if the recommendation is OK, but he wants a few choices? Many of us are like that. How can it show him 3-5 options but also why the top recommendation is really the best? And on a smart watch sized interface!
- What if he wants to know WHY the algorithm considers this the best choice so he can be confident it hits the right buttons (e.g. Is it Jenny’s favorite dish? Is it what they had on their first date?)? How can it show him these details without requiring a whole bunch of navigation or a huge display on his wrist?
- What if the algorithm is way off base because it is using some profile attributes that don’t apply to the current situation? How can it let him adjust the attribute weights or change the data in some of the attributes?
- In the presentation, the app recommends butternut squash, which happens to be perfectly ripe in the store.
- What if it isn’t? What if the system thinks the produce is ready because a less than ethical produce manager said it was? Does it have to evaluate the store’s Yelp ratings and how could it use that information?
- In the presentation, the system picks a delivery time by synching with the shopper’s calendar.
- I don’t know about you, but I don’t put everything on my calendar. What happens when my secretiveness breaks the algorithm? How does it implement an interactive system to negotiation a new delivery time on a watch?
- In the presentation, the seamless payment and delivery assumes (as do many automated self-checkouts) that the shopper didn’t stuff something in his pocket. Of course, that can happen anywhere. But it is a problem that the system does not address.
None of these possible snags show up in the presentation. It would be very easy to assume that the system is perfect if you just watch the presentation and the seamless user story it tells. And I am sure that there are many people watching presentations like this who don’t have the user experience background that you do who can see through to the potential snags. They are easily fooled. That is why these kinds of presentations are so dangerous. When the path through the forest looks perfectly clear, there is often a wolf hiding behind the nearest tree. There is a patch of quicksand directly in front. And there are alligators hiding in the stream.
Does this resonate with you? Have you ever been fooled by a seamless user story presentation? Share some stories with us.
Image credit: beofonemind