User Expectations

At least as important as the user experience itself would be the users' expectations of that user experience. Google is easily the world champ at this.

Gmail was in Beta forever. It was introduced to the public as "a product in test". If it went down, had a glitch, or didn't perform 100%, well, you expected that to some extent, for quite some time. And since it didn't fail often, much, or for long, it exceeded our expectations; pretty much a shot out of the park.

But these days, if it goes down, it's a Big Deal; Reuters and the Associated Press consider this a newsworthy event.

Whenever you see police officers crowded around something next to your building at work, you know something was wrong, and you're curious; if you knew *what* they were doing, you'd be more likely to think your tax dollars were well spent on those police, and probably have a higher opinion of them, their job, and the results of them doing their jobs. Nothing would change except your level of knowledge, but that would reset your expectations, and give you a different view on the topic.

Google has a great way of doing this; they publish every application's status, everyday. Everything for Apps are located in an open location. Google Mail was the only thing to have an incident this week, and the incident report lays out - in less than a page - the three things that users are going to want to know.

What happened? Why did that happen? Why won't that happen again?

They've solved a business need here - in a nearly automated fashion, they've answered questions that users will want to know to have confidence that their $50/user/year is well spent.

But there's also something else. Scroll back a week. Something broke there. Scroll back another. Something else broken. Scroll back another. Something is broken. By showing that the service occasionally fails, and stating that they're proactively removing the cause of the failure for each incident, they're resetting user expectations. While still remaining professional and top-rate, they're acknowledging the service isn't perfect, so when it does fail, customers are far, far less likely to run for the hills.

Dunno. Just really well done, any way about it; presenting your failures in a positive light for anyone who cares enough to go looking is good business practice.

12 comments:

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