Customer engagement can either make or break a product. If you build an interface that does a poor job of engaging a customer you'll find that you're having a tough time retaining your customers. It's relatively easy to get a big traffic spike when you launch a product, but it's insanely tough to sustain activity and customer engagement after the launch.
People constantly struggle to figure out how to maintain and grow customer engagement. A common solution for engagement is to make every interaction flashier than the last one, but that can burnout your customers pretty fast. In fact, pacing yourself is one of the best things you can do.
Penny Arcade published a great little video about the pacing tactics video games use to keep people engaged, which very few products do as well. And most of the points in this video can be adopted into the design of any product:
Here are a few key points from the video translated into the language of designing online products that engage customers:
- Start with a short bang (hilarious moment, a memorable interaction), then bring it down. Make this short and small, or else users will expect too much going forward.
- Give your customers room to breathe, don't attack them with too many 'memorable' moments. Let customers smell the electronic roses so they are not constantly stimulated.
- Don't try to top the last moment/interaction the customer experienced with a more intense one. This is counter-productive. People get acclimated to stimuli. Think of candy — it tastes great if eaten once in a while, but eat it all the time and pretty soon you'll get sick of it. Same goes for your product. If everything is super exciting, pretty soon it's not exciting anymore.
- Enjoyment will increase overall if you alternate between intense/memorable moments and periods of rest.
- People need closure. You can't leave your customers at the most intense point in the experience. You need to bring them back down so that they can engage with the entire product overall. Otherwise, they feel like the experience was truncated or ended abruptly.
- Bonus: Remember that the entire product itself, each stage in which a customer goes from a novice user to an engaged user, and each specific interaction should follow the exact same engagement pattern: short bang, rest time, another short bang, etc.
It's so easy to focus on static screens and forget the entire flow. As designers, we're not creating artwork to hang on your wall, stare at, and "appreciate." We're building things people interact with and use!Hat tip to Dre from Wages of Wins for sharing this video with us.