Tag Archives: compelling experience

Time Distortion

September 9th, 2008

Time Distortion is part of the model I discussed in Challenges faced by Live Search in creating a compelling experience.

So what is Time Distortion?

Time distortion is where users feel unaware of how much time has passed.

How often have you discovered half an hour has disappeared on you whilst watching youtube? or playing around on facebook? or wikipedia?

This is time distortion.

So why would you bother investigating the factors that influence time distortion?  

Think about the benefits:

  • Enjoyable experience around your brand
  • Higher customer engagement
  • Increase repeat visits
  • Increased User satisfaction
Now check those against your site objectives.  It’s in your interest to create a compelling experience.

You are wrong. Offline and Online all the same.

September 7th, 2008

Every Monday I like to throw some ideas out there and see what happens.

They return to me in the form of ‘I’ve tried that and heres why it didn’t work’ or ‘that’s already been done’ or ‘feedback’.

This one I have been throwing around for ages and talked to a lot of people so I thought now was time to unleash it.

Think about the mass of learnings we make online, monetisation models, usability

Now let’s apply them to an offline situation.


Fundamentally we are all humans interacting with your website or service.  We all have the same basic needs and wants.  We engage with your product sometimes with an end goal in mind othertimes we get sold on that end goal.  

Imagine I have taken over the local cafe.


Hmmmm ok, immediately I think of two things.

  1. Offer coffee for free or very low cost to boost volume. (adsense model)
  2. Offer coffee for free but charge for the experience (freemium)
  3. Offer unlimited coffee at a monthly charge.  Different plans better coffee (saas)
  4. Offer a special coffee that comes nicely packaged with chocolates on the side. (price discimination)


I like this one

  1. Remove barriers to your end goal.  Buying a coffee.  Have a sliding door, efficient ordering system. 
  2. Rather than volume (above) make it usable, friendly help user have a compelling experience (create flow), they are likely to spend more. (something online world hasn’t tapped yet).
  3. How quickly can i read your menu? how does the language affect my selection? do you have a top 10 list or ‘most popular’ items.  

I’d better stop you get the idea using usability you can keep going for a while.


This one is already applied somewhat

  1. Create a community of coffee lovers, run a coffee course, teach them how to make coffee.
  2. Setup a monthly newsletter for your loyal fans
  3. Give your loyal fans cards valid for a free coffee for there friends (help them spread your idea)
  4. Offer free wifi and organise tweetups / meet ups (via meetup.com)

You get the idea.

Other filters you can view your cafe through: 

  • Conversion Rates: Optimise your entry points and languages for certain products.  
  • Authenticity: Have nice personable people greeting you, I’m more likely to open my wallet if I’m feeling good about my experience
  • Colours: Colours affect my perception of the store.
  • Analytics: Do you know what type of customers come when? how long they stay? what they buy? Most effective source?
  • Leaking links: Do you advertise / have signs that are building others brands not your own?

Conclusion: Ben should buy a cafe!

You can see that we have this great platform of learning online, we should all be looking at how we can apply these learnings into new contexts.

Challenges faced by Live Search in creating a Compelling experience

July 8th, 2008

I have decided to share my Scholarship winning essay on Live Search.

In Challenges faced by Live Search in creating a Compelling experience my argument is that Live Search has been hindered by lack of a compelling experience.  Compelling experience is driven by flow.

You can read the whole essay online below as ipaper.  You can also download a pdf copy.  Either way enjoy 🙂

My key findings (for those less akin to reading academic material):

  • Model put forward by Hoffman, Novak was used to examine Live Search’s challenge in creating a compelling experience
  • Compelling experience is driven by flow.  In order to create flow need to stimulate variables: Skill/Control, Challenge/Arousal and Telepresence/TimeDistortion
  • Skill/Control: Skill is users capacity for action.  Control is perceived ability to successfully navigate.
  • Challenge/Arousal: Challenge is the users opportunities for action.  Arousal is a correlate of the challenge.  Challenges must be perceived as of a level capable by the user.
  • Telepresence/TimeDistortion:  Telepresence is the perception that the virtual environment that the user is engaging in is more real or dominant that the physical environment.  TimeDistortion is the perception of time passing quickly.
  • Lowering challenge barriers increases arousal | Users need to feel challenged (but not perceive the challenge as being too hard)
  • Low load times and response to inputs encouraged great interaction
  • Relevance of results indirectly influences perception of challenge
  • Live search is lacking in creating a compelling experience.  For example, compare the search for ‘waterblaasting’ on Google vs Live Search.  Now try ‘blastin123455’.
  • For the former, the challenge provided is easier, click the correct misspelling.  The latter again is easier, how does a 12 year old understand ‘try rephrasing or using synonyms’.  Given 30% of internet users have low literacy! (reference in essay)

Practical wise:

  • Keep language barriers low
  • Ensure your service responds fast to input
  • Make the process as streamlined as possible, Google providing the correct spelling as an option to search for vs no result, shows the ease at which users can slip into flow on google vs live search.
  • Keep page load times down.
  • Ensure challenge barriers are low (easy to user interface)
  • Relevance of information is always crucial

To remain competitive in today’s environment this level of analysis is required.

Scholarship Winning you say?!? Yes i have decided to return to University.  How? Why? Well I can do my Masters in 1 year at St Andrews in Scotland (yes, the golf course university aka third oldest university  in the world aka allows focus on Marketing and Web Technologies).  I submitted this essay and have received a 2000 pound scholarship.  Yay!

However I need to raise approximately another 20,000 pounds to cover fees, living costs and other incremental costs.  (Did i mention in order to get my visa i need to do this by August 1st!).  If you would like to support a kiwi making things happen through donations, linking it, passing the post on, or sponsoring me contact at [email protected]  Be great if you could help me get some attention….

Otherwise enjoy! I love being able to share my research / thoughts with you all 🙂

Update: Join the conversation on FriendFeed: Creating a Compelling Experience | Twitter @bwagy

Note: This essay was constrained to 2000 words so there is always room for more analysis / research for those that are keen!

What are you doing all the way down here? You could:
- View my about page
- Or for first timers the New Here? page
- Or maybe email this to a friend
- Or subscribe to get blog updates