Thursday, August 09, 2007

Rediscovering Communication

Communication as part of the user experience ...

"Blogs, wikis, emails, Web sites, virtual worlds, text messages—oh, my. Today we have more ways of communicating than ever. The challenge? If businesses aren’t careful, what they’re trying to say—and what their customers are trying to say—can get lost in the complexity. Think about your experiences as a customer. How many times have you received an email message that was meaningless to you, because its images didn’t download—or perhaps because it offered a message that wasn’t relevant to your life? How often have you come across a customer service page on a beautiful Web site, only to find its information unhelpful—or even contradictory to what the company’s brochure says? Have you ever called an interactive voice response system, or IVR system—aka those darn phone menus—that wasn’t at least a little irritating? All the technology in the world can’t replace the nitty-gritty job of communication.

UX professionals can help people rediscover real communication. It’s not just writing for the Web—though that’s critical. The intention of my new column is to aid this rediscovery, starting with a look at what communication is. I’ll be focusing on business and relationship marketing contexts, but many of these ideas apply in other contexts, too.

The ability to communicate seems obvious, because we encounter many forms of communication daily. We read the news, shop online, review our bills, write or comment on a blog, and more. But ask anyone what communication is and how to make it better, and you’ll hear some hemming and hawing. We’re so close to it, we can’t describe it—it’s tacit knowledge. And, ironically, I think it’s even more tacit to UX professionals. I’ve done my share of hemming and hawing on this subject, so I don’t claim to have the perfect definition. But I find three perspectives provide a useful start:

* a model
* a theoretical view
* an experience strategy"    (Continued via UXmatters)    [Usability Resources]

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