Web App Summit: Designing Humanity into Your Products

by Luke Wroblewski April 26, 2009

Bill DeRouchey's Designing Humanity into Your Products talk at the 2009 Web App Summit in Newport Beach, CA highlighted examples of how humanity has been designed into products and services through humor, personality, and emotion.

  • How do you connect with a company? When its thousands talking to one person.
  • Companies are formal, faceless not one to one.
  • Cleverness doesn’t connect but a real voice wakes you up.
  • Tell people who you are, then they open up to you. When you are informal, that’s when connections happen. Stepping forward into a conversation creates slack. People will forgive you as a person not as a company.
  • How do we make things feel more human? Simple examples: add faces, use human language
  • Examples of building comedy into the process: woot.com
  • Focus on the most underrated elements of the user interface: words on the site help create personality.
  • Instructor voice: “I know you are not familiar with this thing”. Engineering voice: “this operation may take a while.” Peer voice: “I know you are familiar with this, so I won’t bore you.”
  • Form evolves after function. Phones as an example –first it was function based, now more appropriate to leverage form. Can begin to make connections with people.
  • When things go bad –need to be most human about helping people through challenges.
  • Human voice vs. machine voice. Conversational tone: “this will take a second”
  • Error messages can create connections: twitter failwhale (people miss it), flickr (taking a massage)
  • Don’t speak at people, talk to people as peers. In an informal way vs. formal way.
  • Write as you speak. Speak as you write. Say things out loud to get authentic communication.
  • Be yourself –try to break down the wall. People are more likely to connect with you as a person vs. a company.
  • Hire the best writer you can.