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Mister Beacon Episode #104

Successful Experience Design for IoT

March 24, 2020

This week we shift our focus from the usual suspects, Bluetooth & beacons, to the application experiences they enable. While Bluetooth, proximity and Real Time Location System technologies can increase efficiency and create new user interactions, among other use cases, it is ‘all useless if it doesn’t result in applications that people can engage with’. Sean Van Tyne, Customer Experience Architect of Van Tyne Group, coaches us on some of the tools they use to help companies ensure the customer journey is a success such as heuristics, personas, and usability testing. Find out more about how user experience and customer experience gained importance and the companies that drove it.


  • Steve Statler 0:16

    Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast. This is first recording in our new studio. And I am very pleased to have Sean land time with me today. Sean, welcome to the podcast. Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here. So, Sean, you are a writer, a public speaker, a consultant specializing in user experience, customer experience, user interface design, and this podcast supposedly is about beacons. But I think one of the things that characterize begin supposed to

    Sean Van Tyne 2:54

    Customer experience back then was kind of a new word, right? There wasn't a whole lot of books on it. I think. Jeanne bliss chief customer officer was probably the only book and was actually the inspiration for us. And interesting because Jeff and I got to speak in the same stage with Jean. Oh, really? Yeah. Yeah. That's a whole nother story. I'm listening to his book. And it's still has relevance. Snap. Yes. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. So yeah. And we're, the customer experience revolution did really, really well, that's sold over 10,000 copies, which sold, if you've have a book out there, that's a that's a pretty good number. Yeah. You know, most books don't sell over 1000. So right, you know, so that that's been really good. And it's used in I know, it's used in universities and organizations around the world. I know, when Oracle rolled out their customer experience, they used our book as their training book. And obviously UCSD uses it because Jeff teaches the course on marketing.

    Narration 0:07

    Mr. Beacon podcast is sponsored by Willie, scaling IoT with battery free Bluetooth.

    Steve Statler 0:54

    cover a lot of things that go way beyond beacons, and like a beacon guy, you've done projects where there may have been beacons involved, maybe. But the way I like to, I mean, for me, this is really just an excuse to talk to interesting people that

    Sean Van Tyne 1:11

    can be interesting people.

    Steve Statler 1:14

    Well, you are doubly interesting, because, you know, this podcast probably wouldn't have happened, but for you, because you are one of the people when I was thinking about writing a book, you and I went out for coffee, you were very generous with your time. And you basically schooled me on writing books, and you've written how many books I've written a few books. And so generally on the topic of

    Sean Van Tyne 1:40

    so my most recent book, which probably isn't that recent anymore, is called Easy to use to Dotto. It's a very niche book. It's about user experience in Agile development for enterprise software. And the reason I wrote that book is because I've been in the enterprise space doing user experience for more than a couple of decades now. And saw the rise of agile development. And I'm a big fan of agile development. But what a lot of organizations were struggling with when they were adopting agile was how does user experience fit into that. And I helped a lot of companies as an employee, and then also as a consultant, a lot of enterprise software companies. And I thought, you know, what, I should probably just, you know, we're kind of write the handbook for this. And it's been pretty well received, I get a lot of good feedback about Oh, my God, and thanks for explaining that to us. Or, obviously, it's also ends up, you know, being kind of a calling card like, Hey, you're the guy that wrote that book. Can you help me with that? So that's my most recent book. Hard to believe about a decade ago, Jeffrey Bain, and I did the customer experience revolution.

    Steve Statler 3:51

    You teach at UCSC sometimes as well,

    Sean Van Tyne 3:53

    yeah, more of a more of a guest lecturer. In fact, I was there last week. They have this new course called default SD are designed for San Diego. And I was involved with the early concepts of it through working with Donald Norman at the design lab. And now it's an actual course. And it's a it's a very exciting release relationship between UCSD innovation and the city of San Diego. So using students in the community to solve city problems using design thinking is, so I was there last week talking about specifically prototyping and we're prototyping plays in the larger role of innovation.

    Steve Statler 4:34

    So we've kind of scratched the surface a little bit but hopefully provided some basic introduction to your background. So let's just put a wrap up the why that conversation piece of the introduction, which is, you know, Bluetooth beacons, proximity technology, real time location systems, they're compelling applications. I think they're still driving a lot of work. We're really just Starting on this journey of being able to track everything and knowing how to connect it to the internet of things, but all that technology is useless if it doesn't result in an application that human beings can engage with. And when I wrote the beacon technologies, we tried to take holistic view, we looked at alternative technologies, we looked at the supporting systems around beacons, and I think user experience design is, and looking at the customer journey, are all essential if you're going to be successful. And you know, maybe people have been successful without thinking about it. But it definitely helps if you do. And, at a personal level, when I was at Qualcomm, we had a great user experience team. And we would get so many amazing ideas and insights by listening to users interviewing. And it's really the difference can be the difference between success and failure. So yes, we want to tell people about the latest protocols. But we also want to give people some tools and some insights into what make projects successful. So that's why you're here. You helped me get the ideas formulated to publish my book. And I think I always have a lot of respect for consultants, who see many, many different customers, and see the patterns of what works, what doesn't work. And you've done that. And also, you've had to do the hard work of sitting down and structuring your ideas. And, you know, they say the best way to learn is to teach, but I actually think writing goes even further, because you got to get it right. You're held to account. It's down there and like,

    Sean Van Tyne 6:45

    Yeah, that's interesting that that's probably true being having both a background in teaching and writing. But writing is a lot harder than teaching. That's for sure.

    Steve Statler 6:55

    So before we jump into what is the difference between user interface and customer experience, and user experience, and getting some terminology sorted out? Just let's finish off how you got into into this business at all? Me? You we were talking earlier, you're an artist, I can tell from your show, you're still an artist? How come you're dying?

    Sean Van Tyne 7:20

    By the way, I used to hide the fact I was an artist for probably a good 15 years. All right, yeah. So I yeah, I have a BFA in painting. And I spent most of my life as an artist, I get up every day and go to my studio, and I paint and I teach in the afternoons and, you know, have exhibits and I've sold work all over the world as an artist. But when we had our first child living in San Diego, it just wasn't a consistent enough revenue stream to you know, buy a house in a nice neighborhood with good schools, ie Poway

    because we knew that's where we wanted to end up. So I was going to make this career switch I just finished

    during my Master's in Education with a thesis and art integrated education. Because at the time, I was involved with the San Diego aesthetic Institute, doing artists and residencies, helping school systems integrate art into their educational program, not surprised anything that when a learner, regardless of their adult or their child, and a learner had learns through art, they tend to remember the information longer and better. And then shown this with standardized testing. So people that get that, obviously want to integrate art into their, into their curriculum. So that's kind of where my head was at going into my master's. This is like back in the 90s. And I had friends, though, who were software engineers, and when I was looking for something that I felt was just as creative as being an artist or a teacher, but also was relevant and kind of a change junkie, so I kind of wanted something that was constantly evolving. My software friends said, Well, that's what we do as software developers, we make software and the technology is always changing. And it's really interesting. I was like, Man, I don't I don't know if I can make that kind of a kind of a switch right with my art and education background. But it was the 90s. And if you remember what the 90s words like, there was such a shortage of technologists and anyone who really wanted to kind of jump in jumped in. So I started out back in it doing database architecture and network architecture, ironically, at Freezy paint, whose headquarters was in San Diego. And then there's this thing called the internet that came along and I looked pretty interesting to me. So I kind of refocused on web development, web design. And then by the late 90s, was when the whole.com thing started exploding. And I got to work at a really good.com and kind of rode that wave from boom to bust and then Of course, you know, it'll all came to an end at the beginning of the century. But by then I definitely had developed my technology chops and my experience design chops. And I parked it at Mitchell International, started out in their global architecture team as a UX architect, but eventually became their head of design, and grew them a design department, which I'm happy to say is probably bigger now than back in the day that I was there, that I consulted again for a while until the crash of 2008. And then I parked it at Fico. Floppy, learn about the FICO score, yes, but at the core, that's the core of what they do is predictive analytics. So a lot of machine learning and predictive analytics. But if people don't know they were the original recommendation engine for Netflix. I didn't know. Yeah, they provide a lot of the marketing strategy. Background for companies like Coca Cola or target. Yeah, it's they've been they've been big data, predictive analytics before people were using those terms. So why

    Steve Statler 11:05

    do they care about user experience?

    Sean Van Tyne 11:07

    Well, because at the time, my target, and most of those cases, were data scientists. So data scientists are developing models and scoring systems, they too need an interface to be able to look at that data, a lot of big data information architecture, and things like that. But we're also sometimes dealing with strategists at company who want to play around with the strategy models. So we have to create an interface that's simple enough for the strategist who may not be a data scientist, to give him some kind of easy tools for them to visualize how their strategy is going to work create their champions and challengers, without having to bring in the data scientists, or in some cases, like Coca Cola, we were dealing with their folks in marketing, who were developing marketing strategies. So that was the fun, that was a fun client, helping them to figure out, you know, who their persona was, and helping them figure out kind of their whole strategy around marketing. So

    Steve Statler 12:04

    you dropped some terms in that I want to double click on. So you were talking about champions and challengers?

    Sean Van Tyne 12:14

    Yeah, so in machine learning, you might call it multivariate testing, which means that whenever you have a model, and you want to see how successful that model is, you can test it against other models, right? in machine language, we, we have a thing called champion challenger, which means we have a current model that's running today, that is getting the success that we want, but someone will develop what's called the Challenger model. Okay. And then we'll test the Challenger against the champion. Okay. And if the Challenger wins, and it becomes the new champion.

    Steve Statler 12:48

    Interesting. So let's, again, take a step back and look at I've asserted that user experience is important. And I think we can all relate to bad user interfaces, turn off good user interfaces, a compelling but what is it the causes companies to bring you in? And go from? I think we can handle this ourselves, too. We need help.

    Sean Van Tyne 13:14

    Yeah. So I credit a lot of this to Apple. You know, Apple is definitely one of the most profitable companies in the world was the most profitable, I think their second most profitable right now. And I think a lot of business people were looking at Apple, and we're saying, wow, why is apple so successful? And Apple will tell you all about the user experience. That's all they think about, you know, Johnny Ives is, is king in and Steve Jobs himself was a great experience designer, also had, you know, a creative background it was it was his interest in calligraphy that actually led to the graphic user interface, and his interest in fonts. And hey, we should offer a bunch of fonts, right? So. So I credit apple in general, for businesses being interested in user experience, because if one of the most profitable companies in the world says the reason we're profitable is because of the user experience, then that's something I think also, Amazon's pretty, pretty profitable company. And Jeff Bezos from day one said, I want to be the most customer centric company in the world. I mean, there's a reason why he named it Amazon and not online bookstore, right. He knew at the beginning that books was going to be his foray into creating an online shopping experience for what would eventually be everything. Right. What foresight and you know, a lot of people know for the first Well, you probably do for the first nine years he showed no profit. And you know, the stakeholders weren't happy about that. And he kept on putting it back into the experience. Now the interesting thing between Apple and Amazon is Do you know where Larry Tesler is? Larry Tesler just passed a couple days ago. Larry Tesler is the guy who came up with copy and paste. And he was Steve Jobs. Chief Scientist at Apple And then he went for Jeff Bezos became the VP of shopping experience there. We interviewed him in our book, the customer experience revolution. Super nice guy, super smart, you know, was there at the beginning of the whole, you know, how do you design software experience? I mean, cut, copy and paste. I mean, it's like, I can't imagine life without cut, copy and paste. But he's the guy who thought of it like, hey, there should be some way to graphically cut, copy and paste, right?

    Steve Statler 15:25

    I've meandered down some roads. No, no, that's fascinating. I was just stuck on the cut, copy and paste thing. And I was trying to think back to when it was because I remember finding out about that, and just thinking this is just amazing.

    Sean Van Tyne 15:40

    Yeah, yeah. So he's like, Parks lab, back in the day. Okay. So why did people hire me? And then that was? Yeah, so I think I asked answered in a very broad way, it's, again, businesses want to make profit, and they want to be profitable. And when they look at some of the most profitable companies, the CEO is the person to say, user experience or customer experience is what drives our revenue growth. So then they look within themselves, and they say, Do we really have someone that knows how to do it, and to be honest, my customers could be one or the other thing, if it's a large company, like a Sony PlayStation, it's probably going to be someone like the head of product, who's going to bring me in to help them, you know, reorganize their, you know, their department, or in the case of like, net gear, the head of the head of design brings me and kind of as a partner, to help him, you know, decide what's the next growth. For smaller, medium sized companies, they don't have a head of design. So I kind of play that interim head of design role. And I'll help them based on their market, help them design a process that you know, works for them, and sometimes will help them actually hire their head of design, I do that quite a bit or other resources they need.

    Steve Statler 16:56

    And I'm sure every client is different. But if you've got a client who is got an application, which has got a horrible user interface, or maybe they they just know that they need a good one, and they're developing something, what's the process? What's the general level? How do you? How do you help them? What

    Sean Van Tyne 17:16

    do you do your show? To me, it's research, design and test. So if they, if they have a current solution in the market, be it an application or an enterprise solution, or even a service, it really doesn't matter to me what it is, they have an experience that they are delivering. They have a to me they even in a larger context, they have a brand promise that they're delivering, and they may or may not be delivering it well, or they may not be really aware if they're, if they're meeting that promise. That's kind of at the grandiose customer level. But when it comes right down to the application, this is really the difference between user experience and customer experience. The I hate the term user, but the user experiences where the customer touches the products or the services and interacts with them. Right. So when we say customer experience, we're really talking about their thoughts and feelings about the brand. Usually, you're talking usually talking to marketing folks, like the CMO. When you're talking about user experience, you're usually talking to the product folks or the technology folks about that, that actual interaction, like you mentioned, the user interface, that's one aspect of the interaction. Typically, what we'll do an engagement is we will evaluate the current solution or user interface. And in my industry, it's been pretty standardized for a few decades. There's a thing that we call heuristics, there's 10, standard heuristics that we measure against. So we'll go through an application maybe screened by screen. And based on that criteria, give it a score, right. And then based on that score, and those findings, we can go back to the client and say, Hey, we did an evaluation of your current solution. And here's how we scored it. Based on these findings, here are recommendations of what kind of changes you'd make.

    Steve Statler 19:11

    I'm giving me some examples of those heuristics.

    Sean Van Tyne 19:14

    So probably one of the most simple ones are around information architecture, and information architecture is the organization of the information or content. So it could get into like the top level navigation. Is does it does it make sense to your end user terminology is a big thing, right? Because a lot of companies design things inside out. And they will, they'll think of here's here's the best way to think about it. Have you ever been to a website, and that company's website tells you what it does, but doesn't tell you what it does for you. That's a very important distinction. And most companies make this mistake. There's so much inside their head. They think about what we do instead of instead of explaining, instead of thinking in terms of their audience who really doesn't care what they do, they just want to know what is the benefit to me? How are you going to help me, and we help a lot of companies kind of change that language from this is what you do to this is what you do for your your audience so

    Steve Statler 20:21

    that you avoid kind of getting obnoxious and salesy versus the positive side of that, which is, here's why I should even bother spending any time with this tool. How do you?

    Sean Van Tyne 20:33

    Yeah, so I'm not a salesy guy at all. I'm very data driven. So every decision that I make, or any one of my teammates, they have to know every element of that design and data reason why that's there. It could be because it's a standard best practices like oh, well, that's the right contrast, because we know people who are farsighted thought needs to be this size. And the contrast from the background color in the foreground really needs to be this or might come out of a test. It's like, oh, the reason that we're using this terminology, or this particular grouping of information in a menu, is because we tested it with 10 people and eight out of 10 said, This is what they call it, and this is the order they want to see it. And that's the best, the best is when the data comes from the actual target audience. But in lieu of that, there's all kinds of industry standards about when to use radio buttons versus when to use a drop down and, you know, hierarchy of information. There's books and books on the subject Fitts Law, I could go into all of it, but me and people in my field, this is the stuff that you know, we drink and eat. So we already have this kind of standard understanding of how information or content should be presented, there's all kinds of rules around that and industry standards around that. And then you layer on top of that an understanding of the target audience, hopefully, from talking to them. Yeah, and it's the two of those that makes makes it work for that particular brand. Okay, I'm going to tell you that, let's say in the case of a website, because we deal a lot with websites, you know, websites inherently are written in hypertext markup language or HTML. And there is a particular semantics to that language. And if you understand that semantics, that will get you 90% There, you know, just writing the code, the way it's supposed to be written, will get you 90%. There, the other 10% is what's individualize for your particular target audience.

    Steve Statler 22:44

    Okay. So you have these 10 heuristics, part of it is the information architecture, the way the the information is organized on the page, which is serving the purpose and the benefits that someone gets out of the thing. And what are some of the other things the, the right choices, the right widget to, to drive the things sliders versus radio buttons here,

    Sean Van Tyne 23:12

    that's the interaction part of it. But the other aspect of it is the visual design and visual design that, you know, visual design has kind of own language. So for example, most people know what the save icon looks like. And when they see it, they'll click on it, and they know it's going to save something. But you and I, and maybe people of our age, no that that simple is actually a floppy disk doesn't even exist anymore. No, it's

    Steve Statler 23:41

    amazing, isn't it? So?

    Sean Van Tyne 23:43

    So metaphors, you know, like that. I was, I swear to God, I was just having this conversation yesterday about the hope I was helping a client and they were using a tab metaphor, right. And that whole tab metaphor comes from file folder systems. So if you imagine that you have a stack of file folders, they have these tabs, but the tab of the one that's open, that tab should be the same color as the file that's open. And the rest of them should be anything but that color. Yeah, it could be gray, or blue, or whatever. And it's interesting how that tab metaphor has somehow gotten lost. And you'll see like the active tab be like I don't know, blue, but the actual page is white. And one of the simplest things that you can do is say, No, make the tab the same as the background because the metaphor is a tab for a folder. And they've forgotten what it is they forgotten at the desktop is a metaphor for a desktop is a folder is a metaphor for a folder and going back to the roots of the what the real world metaphor means. A lot of interaction design. And visual design is about understanding the root metaphor, and where it comes from. And these metaphors are constantly changing. So for example, I'm dating myself. I remember when the bread came bread crumb came about that's like, you know, you See, underlined link, there's some kind of path and it kind of it can either show you your physical path of where you went or, or it can reveal the directory structure of whatever it is you're in, depending on how they're using the breadcrumb metaphor. But believe it or not back in the 90s, people didn't understand it and didn't use it. And it was only used as a secondary way of navigating. And because of mobile devices, and because of the small space, it's become now a primary form of navigation. So that's what's happening. It's how it's evolved over the last 20 years. Another great example is the hamburger menu. The hamburger menu is like those three lines. And we know now if you see the three lines, if you click on it, you're gonna get you're gonna get a hidden menu, right? That came from the mobile world? Yes, the space was so small, yeah, but you've seen it be now adapted and websites or even applications. So these are the things I get excited about. I get excited about metaphors, the origin of the metaphor, what does the metaphor really mean? Part of my job is to be able to identify the difference between a fad and a trend like so for example, design got really, really flat design got so flat that you couldn't tell if something was clickable. It just went to that extreme. Yes, I remember that. That was

    Steve Statler 26:19

    yeah, I remember Johnny Ives did that thing because everything was being rendered with curves and shiny stuff. And it was, for a while it was like this is clearly the best way, this is the best user interface. And then they have this flat fee went

    Sean Van Tyne 26:34

    way too flat. And as a final in all fairness, Johnny Ives is an industrial designer, so So he's the one who determined like the clam shape on the the laptops and the phones. And he mean, Johnny Ives isn't perfect either. As you may recall, the first iPhone had the same clam shape, as the the laptop did, and it was hard to hold, and again, then slipping out of the hand. And then the next design, they did the flatter sign. So that's just you know, the evolution of it. That's an industrial design, right. So when Jack Gianni tried is his hand at, you know, software screen design. You know, I don't think that was the right color palette, and it was way too flat. I think the recovery from that was Google of all companies, because Google really didn't invest heavily in visual design. And then they realized they had this transparency. So they created a centralized design team. And eventually, I think now they're wonderful design. And what they did was they took flat design, but they added just a little bit, just a little bit of a hint, a metaphor of a shadow. So now a button looks like a button. It's like, oh, now this looks clickable. Yeah. In my world, we call that affordance. affordance means that when you look at something, you know what to do, like, in the real world, you'll sometimes come up to a door to a building, and it's like, do I push this or pull this? Oh, yeah. Right. So if you if you can't tell the glance, yes, that door has poor affordance. Yes. But if you can't tell it has good affordance. Yes. Same thing is true in the software world, does it look clickable or not?

    Steve Statler 28:08

    Getting this stuff, right is so important. I mean, as users, we tend to beat ourselves up when we get lost

    Sean Van Tyne 28:14

    as people we tend to beat ourselves up when we get and generally

    Steve Statler 28:16

    it's, you know, the reason we got it wrong is because of cool design.

    Sean Van Tyne 28:21

    There's an old joke, by the way, and in my world, there's only there's only two professions that refer to their customers as users. Software and drug dealers Yeah. Which is why I try to avoid even though everyone knows what user experiences, I try to call it either customer experience or experience design. It's about people. It's about people's interactions with technology that's constantly evolving, equals interaction with people.

    Steve Statler 28:53

    Well, that's a good segue to maybe the next topic, which so there's the heuristics, you kind of score what people are doing, you have a set of principles you can use to do it better. And you've several times talk back to I think you've suggested kind of empathizing with the target customer, I was meant to say use it. I hear people talk about personas and that sort of thing. And I have to say I had a initial negative reaction towards that. It just seems so bizarre that because my experience of people designing personas is you start creating these elaborate stories about these people. And I kind of wonder, well, what are we actually doing with this? And so tell me, why do what are personas why use them? When can they really be helpful?

    Sean Van Tyne 29:45

    So I'm I'm very pro persona, right? And presented driven. So personas actually started with Greek theater. So in Greek theater, there was the role and the actor and then the persona And then back in the early days of psychology, like Freudian psychology and human psychology, personas to kind of whole new life in the realm of psychology, a persona kind of the same thing is with the Greek theatre is referring to, but more of a psychological profile. Then in the 1950s, US marketers started using persona to take their marketing segmentation to a whole nother level. Then in the late 1990s, what was the book The inmates are running the asylum was written, and that was the first time that personas were used for a software development. So in a nutshell, a persona is a fictional representation of a group of people that share the same goals. So in software world that could go across rolls, like system rolls, it could also grow across segments, like market segments. And the reason you care about the groups in terms of goals is because since they share the same goals, they share the same objectives, they probably have the same pain points, they probably have the same, you know, barriers of entry, and they're probably measuring success the same way. And I've been developing personas for a long time now. And the The wonderful thing about personas is that once a company adopts a persona, I've seen personas being used by the salespeople to work out the sale story or pitch that they're going to tell, I see that same story use that same persona used by marketing to determine the market message. I've seen that same persona used by the people designing the product and service, right, because that's the same person. Obviously, as a designer, the persona is what guides me, because if I know the persona, right, then I know what colors to use, I know what metaphors make sense to them, right. And that will really guide my design decisions. I understand what their goals are, and what the barriers of entries are. So I can design a solution that eliminates those barriers. And those pain points and is more focused on the way that they want to see information. The personas also tell you who to invite him to your usability studies, which kind of leads to the next phase, we talked about the heuristic review, like look at the current solution and identify opportunities for improvement. Once you do that, then there's this whole iterative prototyping cycle, where you design something, and you want to get you want to review it either with subject matter experts inside the organization that hopefully are a good representative of the target audience or even better. Review it with the target audience as you iterate and they can give you brutal feedback like, no, I'd never call it that, or that stupid. Why did you group it that way? Or? No, I wouldn't want to do that. I want to do this first. And hey, where's this? You know, I true story. I once had a client that designed recommend recommendation engines. This was like 15 years ago. For companies like the gap and Victoria secrets, the, the client was designing a recommendation engine. And they like I said they had some very big clients. So it's a b2b model. And their target audience were the marketers. But we did some preliminary research and said, You know, I really want to understand, you know, I want to profile your companies. These aren't necessarily personas, but just company profiles. And I think you can relate to this. They said, we find that our, our clients fall into three buckets. There are those that don't even touch our recommendation engine. And they see a steady return on investment, and they're happy. He goes, there's another group that are always, you know, tweaking it, right, because we give them the tools to do that. And they're usually screwing themselves, because they know what the hell they do. He goes and then there's a small percentage of really strategic people, you know, strategic clients that actually know how to tweak it and actually can get a little bump out of it. Right. So I said, Okay, that's great. I go, as we're designing the new interface for them. Let's make sure we get a good mix of them and review the designs. And at this point, the designs are just paper prototypes, or we call wireframes. And went five days on Monday. We met with client a in the morning, and we walked them through the new screen designed, just clicking through some paper prototypes. Kind of feedback, right? Took all kinds of notes. That afternoon, I probably spent a couple of hours making changes based sudden what the first client had said, they also had some ideas and things that I didn't think about client didn't think about adding those in Tuesday morning, meet with client to show them the updated design based on the feedback we got from the first client. Got more great feedback, I think we got another really good idea, but probably maybe spent an hour making changes. Wednesday, client three. So at this point, client three is benefiting from any insights we got from the first two clients. And they looked at it. That's some good feedback. Nothing new. But some tweaks, maybe spent a half hour that afternoon making revisions. Thursday client for they loved it. They had very little feedback. I maybe spent a few minutes changing some things. Friday, client five, showed it loved it. No suggestions. I kid you not. But the point of the story is the power of iterative review and revision with your target audience. Yes, the key to that is, knowing who your target audience is, because if you're reviewing it with the wrong people, you're not going to get results. And one of the things that happens, especially in big companies, is that they think the person that knows their target market, is someone internally into the company. Yes. So they have this one data point. Yes. And that one data point could be terribly wrong. Yeah, we're talking to your actual customers, is really the key to success.

    Steve Statler 36:36

    How do you decide how many personas you should have? Oh, statistically,

    Sean Van Tyne 36:41

    oh, personas? Yeah, I thought you're gonna say how many people you need to interview to make a persona. That's

    Steve Statler 36:47

    the interesting question to five

    Sean Van Tyne 36:51

    statistically. So there's been analysis on this. And if you talk to five people that match your target. So when you're developing personas, which is fun to do, oh, I'm a geek, I think it's fun to do. But the first thing you do with the way how I do it, at least is I'll run a workshop internally, bringing in all the stakeholders of who they think the persona is, in this does a lot of wonderful things. Firstly, it gets me up to speed on who they think their persona is, right? So I can create what I call a proto persona or straw man. But it's also interesting to see how diverse internally how the different silos think it is. It's the beginning of the healing process. It's the beginning of internally, the stakeholders and the leaders to realize that oh, shit, we have these different perspectives on who our target is. And then I bring them along as part of the process. So then I go back to omega, okay. And you usually up with anywhere from three to five personas. And then then you say, Okay, well, I need to talk to five each of these. And it can really vary because you might want to look across segmentation, demographics, there's lots of different things you might So even for five, I might still end up talking to 50 different people, because there's all these different ways that they want to, that's important to them and their company. So you do the analysis, ie you conduct the conduct the interviews. And then you come back with a revised version of the persona that you started with your, your proto persona, and you sit down with them, and you tell them that, hey, based based on the interviews, and the people that you identified, it's really not five personas, it's really three. And what you thought were your primaries? Turns out, they're not your primary terms of these of your primaries. So you do the you do you do that you do the analysis, you talk to people, and you come up with Now obviously, a lot of it is, is subjective and qualitative, but a lot of is quantitative to you. I mean, you can start adding things up. Like out of these five people, all five of them said, this was their pain point, that was a barrier. That was a goal. So five out of five said that for that persona, then we know that that's true for that persona. So that's how you use both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to develop the persona to make sure that you have the target the right target audience, when you are reviewing whatever the solution may be, could be a product, it could be a service, but the methodology remains the same. And the last part of that is the testing usability testing. Yes. And usability testing comes in at least two forms, formative and summative formative means any kind of testing you would be doing prior to the release of the product or service. And summative means any testing that you do after the release of the product and services. So if you're thinking about Internet of Things, right, there's probably a lot of formative testing that you could do with a prototype to really enhance whatever that experience needs to be, you know, with that device in that space, or however it's been used. So that's called formative testing. And formative team tends to be iterative. The prototypes tend to be very lightweight, but it informs the final product or service after the product or service has been done, then you do summative testing, which means the product is real, it's out in the real world. And we're going to find out now that it's been out in the real world, how's it doing? And if you did a good job with your formative testing, right, you probably already have your your criteria is of success. And then you can find out if, how well did you match those criteria of success and the summative testing. Also, what comes out of the summative testing, not only can it tell you how successful where you were at whatever your usability criteria is where, but it also can inform the next iteration of whatever your product is, right? It's like, hey, you know, we identified in the formative testing, that this was something that people really cared about, we knew we weren't going to get it in this release. And sure enough, that ended up being an issue in the summative testing. So let's you know, that can help drive the priorities for the next iteration of whatever the product or services that you're developing.

    Steve Statler 41:21

    I've had such fun being a participant in the spectator in this, I've found it so valuable I, back in Qualcomm days, they have these amazing user experience labs, and you take prototypes, and sometimes working products, and you put them in front of these very diverse sets of people who are often strikingly different from the people that are observing them, which is

    Sean Van Tyne 41:47

    amazing. Yeah, so that's one of the biggest challenges when you're running a study is people with a background in research or usability or cognitive science. Understand that there's a lot of bias involved, and you have to structure your questions and your response in a very tempered, particular way. That's, you know, we call it empathy. But really, it's about, you know, being able to listen without prejudice, and not get too vested in the solution itself. Where, as you've already hinted at, there's people on the other side of that two way mirror, who might be the product owner, or might be the developer, or might be the designer, and there'll be yelling at them. It's like, no, it's that button, you idiot. Why can't you know so in, and I've been, I've been in situations where people had to be asked to leave, because, really, they know, they care. And it's passion they care about, they care about their product, they care about their solution. Like I said, maybe they were the developer that wrote the code. Maybe it was a graphic designer that made that icon that they couldn't figure out, maybe it's the product owner, that just really knew it was a great idea. But the idea didn't evolve quite the way that they thought it would. And

    Steve Statler 43:10

    the other thing I've seen also is like the subjects you bring these people in, and I remember, we had folks testing this, it was a mobile app to you could use it to pay for your gasoline and buy a carbon offset at the same time. And so we had, like, people who were actually quite wealthy who they drove an Audi. And then there was other people that didn't have a car, and we had them. But the thing that really struck me as the person who hopefully wasn't screaming at them at the other side of the two way mirror, was the people that were conducting the questions. It was like a psychotherapy session, because the subjects were you're paying them. Otherwise, why are they going to go through this process? And they kind of want to please you. And so quite often, it was like, they wanted to give you the answer that they felt like you wanted

    Sean Van Tyne 44:08

    as part of the pie. So you have to control

    Steve Statler 44:10

    and the quest the person that was facilitating the questions, it was like a psychotherapy session where you never ever actually find out what's in the head of the therapist, they, you know, they the subject would say, so is this how I do it? And, and again, and again, the interview would say, Well, what do you think?

    Sean Van Tyne 44:33

    Exactly? Yeah. That's, that's one of the it's, so it involves a lot of facilitation skills. And a big part of it is not giving it away. And it's something you tell him to so that when you run a study like this, a couple of things you tell him right up front is number one, go ahead and ask the question that you're thinking But know that I'm not going to answer it will answer it at the end of the study. But because I want to, I want to know what you're thinking, we call it the Thinking Out Loud protocol. So just give me your stream of consciousness and women are much better than then men are. Men need a lot of prodding, because you'll be sitting there, they'll be staring at a screen and you have to prod them and go. So what are you thinking right now? Like, oh, I'm trying to decide if I need to push this button or go back? Why are you thinking that? It's like, Well, I think if I push this button, this is going to happen. Why do you think that's going to happen? Well, because it says this, is that what you want? It's like, No, I go, What do you want? Oh, I want this. Well, what how would you expect to do that? Well, I think I would do this, but that's not there. And that's gems me this, just in those just in those few sentences, I found out that that's not what he calls it. That's not what he's looking for. But he's looking for this and ain't there. Right. So as a designer, you're doing this right. And I'm going to tell you, I've, I don't want to know how many hundreds of my own designs that I've tested. But I can tell you, I guarantee you, every time I've ran a study, there were things that I thought were obvious and easy that were not. But the ones that still blow my mind, are the ones that I think, you know, they're gonna struggle with this. And they don't, and it just goes back to you, you are not the target audience for this. So you design things for so you're designing an application for nurses, right. And for me, this workflow doesn't make a whole lot of sense. And that's not what I'd call it. But you know, based on the persona, and the research I did, this is the way it should be. And I'm thinking, well, that's not going to work at all. Sure enough, they go click, click, click, click, because it totally makes sense to them. And that thing that I thought was brilliant that I designed that little cool drop down thing, they didn't see it, they didn't click on it, they completely missed it, right. And you just got to be humble, a big part of it is not just empathy, and be able to listen without prejudice. Because the other part is the humility, just accepting that, I thought it was a good idea. But I have to go back to the drawing board.

    Steve Statler 47:06

    So I want to bring this back a little bit to beacons and indoor location and real time location systems, where you're tagging assets, and so forth. So I can see how what we've described works for a webpage or a mobile app, you have a mock up and you use bits of paper to kind of prototype what the user experience might be. And then you rough something up very clunky, and they use it and you get the feedback. But what if I'm designing like a self checkout experience, and it's actually a retail store? It's a three dimensional space I've got. So I've designed digital displays that respond when I pick something up. How do you prototype that?

    Sean Van Tyne 47:53

    Sure. So I've designed experiences for kiosks. We just did something like couple of years ago with a casino, where we're designing the casino experience. So how does the all the way from you know what is the player receive in the mail or email or text? To what is their experience? Like getting to the casino parking, the casino floor experience? What's their service? Like? What's the restaurant? Like? What's the hotel like? For many years, I worked with TEDx San Diego and experience design team. So what's the experience like for people who are attending the TEDx talk to the people who are on the stage, to the sponsors, right? The techniques and methodologies are still the same. The only difference is, is the type of experience. And one of my favorites is think about Disney, one of my favorite brands, right? They have a group of people they call Imagineers. And they're designing that whole experience somewhere on a ride. So they're thinking about how do we make lines interesting, you know, how do we control where they're looking at, as they're, you know, walking through the experience? Or how do we control what they're seeing, hearing smelling? When they're in the ride itself? The methodology is all the same. So doesn't matter. So let's take a an IoT example. I have a client now where they're in the construction space, right? And they're, they're tagging things, you know, like tools. And they also have cameras, and monitors that monitor like, you know, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, right? So that's a physical thing and a physical space. And it has its its own challenges about, you know, what's its power source. The other interesting thing about a construction space is that it evolves. In other words, they're in this space now, but once they're done with that, they're going to move on to that space. So those those devices need to be monitored and move with them. So there is the actual there's the actual thing in the space. And what's that experience like for the people who have to install them or take them out or move them. And then there's also a counter online experience where people are gonna want to monitor the data that's coming off of the device on a screen. It can be a mobile device or a tablet or web page.

    Steve Statler 50:15

    Yeah. So with the IoT, there's the person that's doing the install navigation, the shopper, maybe that's trying to find the fruit or the pair of underwear that they wanted to store. And then there's the user experience of the the person that's kind of in the dark room that's using this data. And

    Sean Van Tyne 50:35

    yeah, yeah, like I said, I spent six years at FICO, designing the data scientist experience. So they have to look at all the data that would come off at the device and, you know, hopefully make good decisions based on that. And at the end of the day, it's really, you're really helping people make better decisions. It could be making a better decision about, you know, I want to get my wife some flowers, right? Or it could be better decisions. Like, I want to make sure this new chiller plant doesn't explode. It could be better decisions. Like, I want to make sure that the flow around my iPhone is enough so it doesn't overheat. But it's all about decision making.

    Steve Statler 51:14

    Very good. What's your man time? Thank you so much for spending time with us. I believe you have a website? Yes,

    Sean Van Tyne 51:23

    I do. It's under it's under design right now.

    Steve Statler 51:27

    Like last night and it looked pretty good to me. Chauvin timed out. Well, yeah,

    Sean Van Tyne 51:31

    the shutdown time.com. But Bantayan group.com is really kind of the business side of the house. All right. But yeah, they both have both a new redesign. It's like kind of getting them done before this interview, but it is what it is right? It too, is constantly evolving.

    Steve Statler 51:46

    Very good. Well, this has been really educational. You've got books. You're out there consulting. It's been it's been a treat talking to you.

    Sean Van Tyne 51:55

    It's been my pleasure. Thank you.

    Steve Statler 52:03

    So what would is presumably a tough choice coming down to three songs that you take it was

    Sean Van Tyne 52:08

    it was really tough it. It became Sunday breakfast conversation at the Valentine house. Excellent. Yeah. So I mostly between me and my 18 year old daughter, Jackie. Because it's interesting to get their perspective on things like Oh, Dad, what do you like about this? And about that? So I think the three that I came up with, if I if I can recall, one of them was diamonds on the soles of your shoes, by Paul Simon. It's from his Graceland album. It was he won the Grammy that particular year.

    Steve Statler 52:41

    That's fascinating. It's on my list as well. Really? No, it's

    Sean Van Tyne 52:46

    not obscure. And the reason the reason it is it's Laura's and I saw so when Laura and I were dating back in the day, we learn our dating on never forget it. We were at her place growing up in Michigan, in her basement because we have basements in Michigan, right? And we're watching Saturday Night Live. And Paul Simon was the musical guest. And he sang diamond on the soles of his shoes. Awesome. And like that memory, right? So that has to be there. Other songs that I was thinking about, you know, being on Mars is nothing in particular, but something by Mozart, just because you know, Mozart is very creative. And when I listen to Mozart, it I used to listen to Mozart a lot in the studio just helps you free your mind and open things up.

    Steve Statler 53:36

    So in the studio is your painting studio. Yeah, back

    Sean Van Tyne 53:39

    in my younger days when I was an artist. Yeah, I still listen to Mozart though, like when I write so much. So it's kind of my go to put in the nowadays we we don't have headphones anymore. We have earbuds right? And it's funny. My kids call them headphones. It's like no, that is not headphones. They are ear buds. That's the bud goes in your ear. Headphones different. Yeah, it's different. So definitely some Mozart okay, if I was on Mars, so I got something to remind me my wife, I have something to listen to if I'm doing something creative. Yeah. The third one was really you know, I don't know about the third one. I'm not sure if we can really come up with a third one. Maybe something maybe something like September by Earth Wind and Fire. Something that you know, get your groove on something to remember my Wi Fi somebody get some work done and maybe you know something to move by. So there you go. Wonderful

    Steve Statler 54:33

    choices are evocative for me as well. That's that's the only thing that reminds me of being 17 just finishing up school. And we were growing up enough that they let us have a common area where we could listen to music and that Earth Wind and Fire album was one that was played a lot

    Sean Van Tyne 54:52

    must be a little bit older than you. When I when I think of Earth Wind and Fire especially in their heyday. It was Again, growing up in Michigan, I have a very specific memory about basement parties. So when you grow back east and people have basements in the wintertime, right, it's too cold to do anything outside. So you have these parties in the basement. And usually the parents I'm in middle school, right so are we call junior high they call them to school here. But like usually the parents are upstairs and you know, they have all the snacks and the drinks and then the kids are downstairs listening to music and dancing and usually some more sophisticated couple in the corner. Might be some new changes.

    Steve Statler 55:36

    Little memories. Yeah, yes. Thank you so much

    Sean Van Tyne 55:39

    music and memories. You can't you can't really separate separable,

    Steve Statler 55:41

    inseparable. Good choices.

    Sean Van Tyne 55:43

    Choices. You're welcome. Thank you for asking.

    Transcribed by https://otter.ai