Warm Gun: UX Strategy Means Business

by November 22, 2013

In his presentation at the Warm Gun Conference in San Francisco CA, Jared Spool walked through the importance of content and user experience for businesses. Here are my notes from his talk:

Content Maters

  • Sites are filled with content. But what is the "content" that our customers want? How we think about content needs to change. Content is what your needs or wants right now.
  • What are the skills required to design good content? We need information architecture to make things findable and interaction design to make content usable.
  • Apps with the same content can have a different experience based on how the present and prioritize content. Visual design can be used to make content more effective and delightful.
  • Information architecture, Visual design, and interaction design are key skills for designing delightful content but they are not enough. We need user research, editing/curating, information design, and more.
  • The Unicorn Institute is a research project to uncover what skills designers need so we can train them to be effective.
  • Content is at the center of many experiences success and failures. Apple's iOS maps had great interaction design but poor content, which made it an overall failure. They underestimated the complexity of mapping content.
  • Google had over 10,000 people years invested in correcting mapping errors. That's quite a head start. Apple did not see the problem in Maps coming. It cost them dearly.

Business Models & Design

  • Content and UX strategy has some big holes. We often don't see things coming before they hit. Why? Because we often don't understand business.
  • In a typical retail environment, the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer take a cut. Apple owns all these parts of the equation and gets 100% on anything it sells directly.
  • Amazon can make money even when they sell products at cost. They turn their inventory every 20 days. Best Buy turns it every 74 days. Standard retail payments are 45 days. Amazon has cash float which earns them interest while others are waiting for payment.
  • Business models are designed. Even non-profits need a business plan and a sustainable business model.
  • When we don't understand the business model, we can't design the right experience.
  • Poor content hurts our business dramatically. But does great content help the business?
  • User experience can be measured on a scale from frustrating to usable to delightful. Moving from not sucky (usable) to delightful is hard. We have to go form removing frustration to adding things. The experience you need to determine what to add vs. remove is different.
  • Delightful content is not free. We need a business model to support it.
  • We can't just think in terms of screens and UIs, we need to understand the business as well.
  • Executives care about 5 things: increase revenue, decrease cost, increase new business, increase existing business, increase shareholder value.
  • Take anything you design and evaluate it through these considerations. What levers is it moving and why?


  • "Find the Content": go to an advertising supported Website and try to find the content.
  • Everything in an advertising model is designed to give you the experience you don't want. To distract you from what you do want.
  • Advertising may increase revenue, but they don't move other business priorities.
  • There is constant tension between ads and experience and it is getting worse.
  • Out of 1,100 ads you may click on 17. 31% of ads are never seen by users (off screen, etc.). 50% of mobile ads are clicked on accident. You are 478x more likely to survive a plane crash than to click on a banner ad.
  • On Walgreens web site, 58% of the clicks go to elements that take up 3.9% of the space on a screen.
  • Advertising is extortion. We well ads to advertisers then charge users to remove ads from their experience.
  • Can ads work? Yes. But in a specific context only.
  • Seducible moments are when you can get users to take action. Advertising in seducible moments can work. But invasive broad advertising doesn't.
  • We can map ads from disrupting to integrated on one axis. And broadcast vs. targeted ads on the other axis.
  • Word of mouth is the best kind of ad. It's targeted and integrated. We can't control word of mouth and reviews. All we can do is create great experiences, which in turn create great free advertising.
  • Metered paywalls allow newspapers to earn more money than they do from advertising. To make this model work, you need to have excellent content that people will pay for.
  • Sight tweaks to business models like "pay when you post" vs. "pay when you sell" can have a big impact. These levers allow us to design business models.
  • Good content can add value to products. Participants in a study, spent less of their budget on Walmart but much more at Crutchfield. The difference was custom, well-written content.
  • Map user experience and delightful content to the business you are trying to create.
  • The best UX strategists create the right experience by understanding how business works.