SXSWi 2008: "Cognitive Seduction 4.0: 20 ways to woo our users" panel notes

Cognitive Seduction 4.0: 20 ways to woo our users
Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users

For this panel, I’ll admit my notes were a bit patchy and I relied on a few other ppl’s notes to improve them. I was too mesmerised by Kathy’s talk to worry so much about notes. But read on anyways…

I’ve also borrowed a few of Kathy’s images to illustrate for those who weren’t so lucky as to attend. They’re completely her copyright, ownership and what not. (They rock!)

Here’s the part of the presentation involving Gary Vaynerchuk on video
Other users’ notes (better than mine):

What did (do) you want to be really, really good?
How do we help our users really really kick ass?
To make better apps, we must compensate for the missing “human-ness”

It’s not about talking about the product or the company, it’s about the user feeling they kick ass

Buy this because we want you to kick ass!

Brain death by dull cubicle, brain develops when in the right environment, richer, better experience – Keep learning new things

It’s not about natural talent, it’s about the talent to practice!
Need to have a “rage to master”

1. Use telepathy
Mirror neurons: See people, don’t report on paper, it fires different neurons in the part of your brain that FEELS and senses

2. Serendipity
Add some randomness to your product (see blog for that post, useful for team)

3. Dog-ear principle
Think about real-life physics
Natural feeling
Not something ppl necessarily ntoice

4. Create joy
It’s integral to the success of the product, playing while learning
Look at Amy Jo Kim and Liz Danzico (frameworks) about putting fun in work

5. Inspire first-person language
Shouldn’t be about the company, needs to be about the user, not the company/product

6. Tshirt first development
What does it say about you to be using xyz? Will users be proud of your blog or ashamed to be associated to it?

7. Easter Eggs (make them smile, feel “in the know”)

8. Tools for evangelising
Give your users tools to evangelise – what helps them kick ass and be passionate?
Twitter in plain english (video) to help explain to people in basic words
Help users defend this “totally lame waste of time” that other ppl may perceive your product as

9. Help ppl reduce stress
Don’t see people/things as predators, see as bunnies
Manage your fight/flight

10. Exercise the brain
Help users challenge their brains in a good way
Electric Rain creates tutorials: Users have to get to create something cool within 30 mins

13. Users dont want to suck
Don’t want to have to relearn things or go through the suck phase again
Pattern recognition helps ppl become experts quickly

“Oops, looks like it went a bit wrong but I forgive you” vs “you bastards, you broke my stuff!” how they feel in response to a problem (if they love you or not)

Get past the Suck Threshold

15. Help with reinvestment of mental resources into new problems
Expert vs non-experts master the same things, but the expert add new challenges while the non-experts sit on their success instead of learning further.

16. Create a culture of support
No dumb questions… but also no dumb answers. Empower users to respond to each other. Create a place for the culture between users to grow.

17. Passionate users talk differently, they use jargon, words have depth
There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s healthy for advanced users to be able to communicate without dumbing down their language.
Give newbies somewhere to start, but don’t expect the community to be all inclusive to everyone in every way. You will end up with different

18. Practice Seductive Opacity
Mystery, anticipation, curiosity
What’s gonna happen next? “It’s not secrecy – it’s theatre” – Michael Lopp, Apple

19. Atoms are not old skool
Etsy, Make: A tangible good, something that brings us back to our roots

20. Do what this guy does: Gary the wine guy came on stage to talk about being passionate as the biggest driver to achieving what you want.
More on Gary Vaynerchuk at

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