Interaction Design Exercises

16 Dec 2005 - 3:49pm
8 years ago
19 replies
1980 reads
Angela Azzolino
2005

Hello there,
I've been asked to come up with a design exercise ideas for the hiring of a
mid-level interaction designer at my agency. I have a few ideas of my own
but since I was never asked to do an exercise myself, I'm reaching out to
the community to get first hand recommendations and/or rants about your
design exercise experiences.

Any insight you can provide will be appreciated. Thank you and happy
holidays!

Angela

Comments

17 Dec 2005 - 10:31am
niklasw
2005

Have you seen this one? PDF at the bottom of the page.
http://www.cooper.com/content/company/interaction_designer.asp
--Niklas
On 16/12/05, Angela Azzolino <landshark at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hello there,
> I've been asked to come up with a design exercise ideas for the hiring of
> a
> mid-level interaction designer at my agency. I have a few ideas of my own
> but since I was never asked to do an exercise myself, I'm reaching out to
> the community to get first hand recommendations and/or rants about your
> design exercise experiences.
>
> Any insight you can provide will be appreciated. Thank you and happy
> holidays!
>
> Angela
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

19 Dec 2005 - 9:57am
Josh Seiden
2003

Angela,

Your excercises need to be crafted to reveal certain skills. No single
exercise should go after everything. So, what skills are you looking for?

The Cooper examples cited by Niklas test two sets of skills: widget-level
interaction design skills and big-picture interaction design skills.

Also consider in-person exercises to test how well people think on their
feet, their collaborative skills, their consulting skills, etc. For example,
try putting a fairly open-ended problem on a whiteboard, and ask the
candidate to walk you (and a roomful of others) through a solution.

The key thing is that the exercises should provide two-way benefit. They
should help you assess a candidate's skills, but they should also represent
fairly the work and working environment that the candidate will find on the
job. In this way, both parties can assess fuzzier issues--like if you all
actually want to work together in the first place.

JS

-----Original Message-----

Hello there,
I've been asked to come up with a design exercise ideas for the hiring of a
mid-level interaction designer at my agency.

19 Dec 2005 - 10:32am
Pradyot Rai
2004

On 12/16/05, Angela Azzolino <landshark at gmail.com> wrote:

> I've been asked to come up with a design exercise ideas for the hiring of a
> mid-level interaction designer at my agency.

It is always good to ask the person to solve your business/design
problem. For example, you might have a poor UI that you may want to
improve, or, you may be working on something that is challenging
enough. Putting these in form of question will help you understand not
only individual's design capability, but also if he is going to be a
fit in your culture. Knowing whether one can solve the problem is just
one part of the problem, figuring out "how" he arrives at any
conclusion is really a complete picture of his candidature.

Pradyot Rai

19 Dec 2005 - 11:06am
Josh Seiden
2003

Be careful about using *actual* problems from your projects/business.
Candidates may feel that they are being used for free consulting. This is
bad if you don't make the hire, but can be awkward even if you do.

I agree that the "how" is more important than the "what". And you can get
that without risking a conflict.

JS

-----Original Message-----

It is always good to ask the person to solve your business/design problem.
For example, you might have a poor UI that you may want to improve...

[snip]

Knowing whether one can solve the problem is just one part of the problem,
figuring out "how" he arrives at any conclusion is really a complete picture
of his candidature.

19 Dec 2005 - 11:18am
Chris Noessel
2005

> I've been asked to come up with a design exercise ideas for the hiring of a mid-level interaction designer at my agency.

Try this one...Asked to test for empathy and design, I devised the following challenge: using the whiteboard behind you, think aloud while you design a bowling alley for the blind. (If the candidate were blind, they might have a leg up, but I never ran into this circumstance.)

This task requires synthesizing the familiar constraints of the sport and the unfamiliar (but easily conceived) constraints of the target audience. I watched for the viability of the solutions, a solid design process, and the level at which the candidate solved the problem (parking at the alley, wayfinding in the alley, or any of the bowling-related interfaces). I also listened for language indicating an affective-empathy response and whether the candidate kept in mind that this is not a work task, but an entertainment task conducted in a social setting.

19 Dec 2005 - 12:30pm
Dan Brown
2004

How is asking someone to design on the fly a good test of their
skills? It doesn't reflect reality at all. When I've interviewed at
firms that ask me to do design during the interview, it says to me
that this firm doesn't understand the design process. Good design
takes research and iteration. I hope I'm not judged on my design
ability by a 20-minute off-the-cuff demonstration.

At the same time, it's important for candidates to show that they can
think (think, not design) on their feet. The best way to do this is to
ask hard questions about work they've already done. When they present
their portfolio press them on the design decisions they made. It's
unlikely they've had a chance to think about these things before. If
they can answer your tough questions, that's a good candidate. If you
feel like your interviews aren't separating wheat from chaff, you need
to be asking harder questions.

-- Dan

>
> > I've been asked to come up with a design exercise ideas for the hiring of a mid-level interaction designer at my agency.

19 Dec 2005 - 12:57pm
Dave Malouf
2005

HI Dan,

I really agree w/ what you are saying here. We aren't testing design skills
but in an unpracticed environment (unlike asking them things about their own
work), get them to show me how they think.

The other thing that I add to this is how they engage with a group. So I do
my "testing" in the following way.

1. What is a problem YOU'VE been thinking about of late that is a design
problem you think you could use the attention of this group 2-3 others?

I ask this instead of supplying the problem itself, b/c I find that many
applicants I'm sorry to say just don't respond well to this question. They
haven't been thinking about this stuff in a way that shows they understand
what are design problems and that they are part of a bigger world. Often
they can't even come up with an answer to the question at all.

Do you not think about design outside of work? Are there not aspects to the
problems and constraints of your job that prevent you from exploring new
directions that you can't under those conditions but wish you could? Show me
whatchya thinkin'?

2. Lead the team through a process of designing a solution for this problem.
Feel free to use the members in front of you however you see fit.

No matter what level of designer you are, you should have some collaborative
skills. Design by committee is not good, but neither is designing in
isolation. So figuring out how to use designer attention is really
important.

This also helps me see if the person would fit well within the team or not.

Finally by looking at a specific problem set, I get to see how they
deconstruct the problem as much as I see how they construct a solution.

That's my story! ... :)

-- dave

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

19 Dec 2005 - 1:41pm
Chris Noessel
2005

> [Dan Brown] How is asking someone to design on the fly a good test of
their skills? It doesn't reflect reality at all... At the same time,
it's important for candidates to show that they can think (think, not
design) on their feet.

You're right, it's about the thought process, but also the response to
real-world design pressure: how will the candidate respond in client
meetings when presented with a challenge or a new idea. Or when asked by
the development team if it's possible to do something in a more
technologically feasible way. Or in brainstorm meetings with colleagues.
If you can't respond to such things in real time, i.e. design, you'll
have lost the debate.

IxD can't only work in relaxed, isolated quiet time. I think any firm
that asks me in interviews to design on the fly is very much interested
in having a smart, methodological, real world designer on hand.

19 Dec 2005 - 2:21pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

At 12:57 PM 12/19/2005, David Heller wrote:
>2. Lead the team through a process of designing a solution for this problem.
>Feel free to use the members in front of you however you see fit.
>
>No matter what level of designer you are, you should have some collaborative
>skills. Design by committee is not good, but neither is designing in
>isolation. So figuring out how to use designer attention is really
>important.
>
>This also helps me see if the person would fit well within the team or not.

Hi Dave,

I find this very interesting.

Could you say more about this? I'd love to know more details about what an
"ideal" candidate does. I'd also like to hear a
don't-call-us-we'll-call-you story or two. :)

Jared

Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
978 777-9123 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks

19 Dec 2005 - 4:05pm
CD Evans
2004

Jared, I've got a million horror stories, if you want 'em.

The most common thing I've found with this 'baloney testing scam' is
that they want your consultation, and they want it for free. I've had
many people just simply ask, 'What would you do with our software?'.
Really.

Now, I've also seen a bunch of other approaches, which honestly are
just as shady.

Some require a test before they'll chat with you, and other's have a
test instead of an interview. Some of these companies screening this
way think it solidifies their position as good designers. These tests
are not only appalling for the reasons others have just mentioned, but
they think they've solved some miraculous puzzle, and want to see if
you can solve it as well. If it doesn't just simply state how badly
they don't need anyone, it also shows how arrogant they are. They think
they've got it licked. Whatever it is.

Sadly, there is another very ugly side of this. Portfolios and previous
client materials are, for some reason, highly sensitive information,
and as a result the whole interviewing process, has become somewhat of
show and tell. Companies are typically hoping to glean whatever they
can from previous projects, and experiences, to tell them how to solve
their problems.

I've walked away from several meetings or interviews feeling I should
have charged a rate equivalent to a boardroom presentation and/or a
personalized consultation. I've been flown in, and given the luxury of
telling team after team of people within a company how I would work
with them, or worse yet, how I think design teams should be structured.
The effect I've had on companies bottom line through this type of
underhand consultation, well that's a difficult thing to say, but I can
pretty much guarantee that the people I've talked to found the
conversation more helpful for internal process than actually paying me
to do what I've suggested.

This industry is full of knowledge theft and exploitation, I've seen it
far away and around the corner. The bottom line with this cowboy
business logic, is that you can't actually tell them anything helpful,
at any point. The more you tell them the more likely it is that they
think they are nearing the end of the valuable stuff and the more
likely it is that they'll pull the modern equivalent of leaving the
saloon without paying the tab, if not shooting the bartender and
heading for the hills. There's a number of 'wanted posters' out there,
I'm not saying who's on them, but I sure know what they get away with.

They don't want a good designer, they want to know everything to fake
it.

Anyone want to run these cowboys out of dodge?

CD the kid.

On 19 Dec 2005, at 12:01,
discuss-request at lists.interactiondesigners.com wrote:

> At 12:57 PM 12/19/2005, David Heller wrote:
>> 2. Lead the team through a process of designing a solution for this
>> problem.
>> Feel free to use the members in front of you however you see fit.
>>
>> No matter what level of designer you are, you should have some
>> collaborative
>> skills. Design by committee is not good, but neither is designing in
>> isolation. So figuring out how to use designer attention is really
>> important.
>>
>> This also helps me see if the person would fit well within the team
>> or not.
>
> Hi Dave,
>
> I find this very interesting.
>
> Could you say more about this? I'd love to know more details about
> what an
> "ideal" candidate does. I'd also like to hear a
> don't-call-us-we'll-call-you story or two. :)
>
> Jared

19 Dec 2005 - 4:31pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Jared,

The ideal candidate does the following:

First, they have a slough of things on their mind.
Someone who nailed this, just said, "I've been thinking about the "gold
chest" on Amazon. It isn't working for me.

She then with my "help" (in this case it was 1 on 1) we deconstructed the
purpose of the feature, what makes it tick, and why from a BUSINESS
perspective we speculated why it was there in the first place.

That to me was already a success.

Then we went through the process of re-designing it.
She elicited my feedback along the way. We didn't get very bogged down into
a lot of details about widgets, placement or what not. We could have, but we
didn't.

This demonstrated to me that she could think about the business, that she
can see how business goals and user goals need to be balanced through a
project. She was also able to bring me into the conversation instead of just
facing the whiteboard and sketching away.

The "don't call us ..." person, was someone upon prodding, couldn't think of
anything at all that interested them. They showed no passion or interest in
design outside of it being a craft that they did like assembling a car, as
opposed to a higher level creative process. I had to constantly prod the
individual and finally just had to suggest something on my mind.

To CD's point --
I am a small group so I don't have to give the test before interviewing. I
know that Cooper did this (don't know if they do any more) and Google
definitely does this.

I also NEVER ask people to work on problems of my own choosing for the very
reason that he states. People are hear looking for a job, not to do a job
for you.

The one thing I like about this exercise is that hopefully it will tell the
candidate something about us. They get to engage us and see how good we are.

-- dave

On 12/19/05 2:21 PM, "Jared M. Spool" <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

> At 12:57 PM 12/19/2005, David Heller wrote:
>> 2. Lead the team through a process of designing a solution for this problem.
>> Feel free to use the members in front of you however you see fit.
>>
>> No matter what level of designer you are, you should have some collaborative
>> skills. Design by committee is not good, but neither is designing in
>> isolation. So figuring out how to use designer attention is really
>> important.
>>
>> This also helps me see if the person would fit well within the team or not.
>
> Hi Dave,
>
> I find this very interesting.
>
> Could you say more about this? I'd love to know more details about what an
> "ideal" candidate does. I'd also like to hear a
> don't-call-us-we'll-call-you story or two. :)
>
> Jared
>
>
> Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
> 4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
> 978 777-9123 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
> Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
>
>

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

19 Dec 2005 - 4:41pm
gretchen anderson
2005

Another interesting point about the Cooper test is that it helps candidates
better understand what's expected of them:

- think on your feet
- communicate well
- don't get defensive when you're on the spot
- draw a solution that works for users and for the business

I find it hard in portfolio reviews to understand if what's being presented
is a product of a team, if I'm talking to the person who had the big idea
and got someone to do the detail work, or if I'm talking to the detail
person who can't think big.

On 12/19/05 1:31 PM, "David Heller" <dave at ixdg.org> wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Hi Jared,
>
> The ideal candidate does the following:
>
> First, they have a slough of things on their mind.
> Someone who nailed this, just said, "I've been thinking about the "gold
> chest" on Amazon. It isn't working for me.
>
> She then with my "help" (in this case it was 1 on 1) we deconstructed the
> purpose of the feature, what makes it tick, and why from a BUSINESS
> perspective we speculated why it was there in the first place.
>
> That to me was already a success.
>
> Then we went through the process of re-designing it.
> She elicited my feedback along the way. We didn't get very bogged down into
> a lot of details about widgets, placement or what not. We could have, but we
> didn't.
>
> This demonstrated to me that she could think about the business, that she
> can see how business goals and user goals need to be balanced through a
> project. She was also able to bring me into the conversation instead of just
> facing the whiteboard and sketching away.
>
> The "don't call us ..." person, was someone upon prodding, couldn't think of
> anything at all that interested them. They showed no passion or interest in
> design outside of it being a craft that they did like assembling a car, as
> opposed to a higher level creative process. I had to constantly prod the
> individual and finally just had to suggest something on my mind.
>
> To CD's point --
> I am a small group so I don't have to give the test before interviewing. I
> know that Cooper did this (don't know if they do any more) and Google
> definitely does this.
>
> I also NEVER ask people to work on problems of my own choosing for the very
> reason that he states. People are hear looking for a job, not to do a job
> for you.
>
> The one thing I like about this exercise is that hopefully it will tell the
> candidate something about us. They get to engage us and see how good we are.
>
> -- dave
>
>
> On 12/19/05 2:21 PM, "Jared M. Spool" <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>
>> At 12:57 PM 12/19/2005, David Heller wrote:
>>> 2. Lead the team through a process of designing a solution for this problem.
>>> Feel free to use the members in front of you however you see fit.
>>>
>>> No matter what level of designer you are, you should have some collaborative
>>> skills. Design by committee is not good, but neither is designing in
>>> isolation. So figuring out how to use designer attention is really
>>> important.
>>>
>>> This also helps me see if the person would fit well within the team or not.
>>
>> Hi Dave,
>>
>> I find this very interesting.
>>
>> Could you say more about this? I'd love to know more details about what an
>> "ideal" candidate does. I'd also like to hear a
>> don't-call-us-we'll-call-you story or two. :)
>>
>> Jared
>>
>>
>> Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
>> 4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
>> 978 777-9123 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
>> Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
>>
>>
>
> -- dave
>
> David Heller
> http://synapticburn.com/
> http://ixdg.org/
> Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
> Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
> AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

19 Dec 2005 - 5:01pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

Chris Noessel <chris at cooper.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> > [Dan Brown] How is asking someone to design on the fly a good test of
> > their skills? It doesn't reflect reality at all... At the same time,
> > it's important for candidates to show that they can think (think, not
> > design) on their feet.
>
> IxD can't only work in relaxed, isolated quiet time. I think any firm
> that asks me in interviews to design on the fly is very much interested
> in having a smart, methodological, real world designer on hand.

I like how Chris puts it. I addition, if interviewer expected to have
the "right answer", then yes, 20 min.s interview will get him lemon.
But that is not what I recommended. I proposed to put the problem in
front of the candidate and watch him do it. Observe what kind of
questions he asks, see if he is collaborating or leading to his
corner, see if he is making assuptions (and varifying/testing), blah,
blah, blah... Don't get stuck on the result.

I have seen this played out very successfully for recruiting Software
Geeks, Financial Analysts, or Management Consultants. In other world,
these kind of excercise is what is known as "case based interviews".

One problem with open questions, such as, philosophy of design, or
past work is that any street smart designer can bulldoze you with his
cockinesss. Don't just rely on them. If you want hands-on designer, as
was mentioned by originator of this post, observe him do/think work.

I am, also, not suggesting that you should use just one tool for
assessment. You have to have candid talks with him, you have to do
reference, past work, etc. Similarly, a good test has no alternative.
And it is always good to test the candidate on your own turf. There's
nothing illegal or unethical about it, or atleast, I am not aware of
any.

19 Dec 2005 - 5:07pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

Very cool. Thanks for elaborating.

One thing jumped out at me:

At 04:31 PM 12/19/2005, David Heller wrote:
>First, they have a slough of things on their mind.
>Someone who nailed this, just said, "I've been thinking about the "gold
>chest" on Amazon. It isn't working for me.
>
>She then with my "help" (in this case it was 1 on 1) we deconstructed the
>purpose of the feature, what makes it tick, and why from a BUSINESS
>perspective we speculated why it was there in the first place.

What do *you* think the Gold Box business purpose was? (I actually know
what its original purpose was and what its current purpose is -- it was
reborn about 7 months ago. I'm curious what y'all came up with. Then I'll
share what I know -- it's not under NDA.)

I understand that what it's real purpose was is probably irrelevant to your
hiring exercise (or is it?). I'm just curious what you came up with. (When
I heard the original purpose, I was a bit surprised, 'cause it wasn't what
I assumed.)

:)

Jared

Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
978 777-9123 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks

19 Dec 2005 - 5:21pm
Barb Hernandez
2005

I have been through several and administered several of these types of
tests in an interview. When I have been on the receiving end, the
subject of the exercise has been unrelated to the work to be done with
that client or employer. For example, a team developing teller software
for a bank asked me to design a system related to HR and interviewing.
It was an effective way for me to show them I could design / think on my
feet, that I knew how to ask questions to inform my design, and that I
could communicate and work with a team.

When on the other end I was looking for the same types of things, as
well as knowledge of platform standards and best practices.

Barb Hernandez
Interaction Designer / Usability Specialist
TechSmith Corporation
2405 Woodlake Drive | Okemos, MI 48864-5910
517.381.2300 x530 | 517.913.6132 Fax
b.hernandez at techsmith.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
gretchen anderson
Sent: Monday, December 19, 2005 4:41 PM
To: David Heller; IxD Mailinglist
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Interaction Design Exercises

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

Another interesting point about the Cooper test is that it helps
candidates
better understand what's expected of them:

- think on your feet
- communicate well
- don't get defensive when you're on the spot
- draw a solution that works for users and for the business

I find it hard in portfolio reviews to understand if what's being
presented
is a product of a team, if I'm talking to the person who had the big
idea
and got someone to do the detail work, or if I'm talking to the detail
person who can't think big.

On 12/19/05 1:31 PM, "David Heller" <dave at ixdg.org> wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]
>
> Hi Jared,
>
> The ideal candidate does the following:
>
> First, they have a slough of things on their mind.
> Someone who nailed this, just said, "I've been thinking about the
"gold
> chest" on Amazon. It isn't working for me.
>
> She then with my "help" (in this case it was 1 on 1) we deconstructed
the
> purpose of the feature, what makes it tick, and why from a BUSINESS
> perspective we speculated why it was there in the first place.
>
> That to me was already a success.
>
> Then we went through the process of re-designing it.
> She elicited my feedback along the way. We didn't get very bogged down
into
> a lot of details about widgets, placement or what not. We could have,
but we
> didn't.
>
> This demonstrated to me that she could think about the business, that
she
> can see how business goals and user goals need to be balanced through
a
> project. She was also able to bring me into the conversation instead
of just
> facing the whiteboard and sketching away.
>
> The "don't call us ..." person, was someone upon prodding, couldn't
think of
> anything at all that interested them. They showed no passion or
interest in
> design outside of it being a craft that they did like assembling a
car, as
> opposed to a higher level creative process. I had to constantly prod
the
> individual and finally just had to suggest something on my mind.
>
> To CD's point --
> I am a small group so I don't have to give the test before
interviewing. I
> know that Cooper did this (don't know if they do any more) and Google
> definitely does this.
>
> I also NEVER ask people to work on problems of my own choosing for the
very
> reason that he states. People are hear looking for a job, not to do a
job
> for you.
>
> The one thing I like about this exercise is that hopefully it will
tell the
> candidate something about us. They get to engage us and see how good
we are.
>
> -- dave
>
>
> On 12/19/05 2:21 PM, "Jared M. Spool" <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
>
>> At 12:57 PM 12/19/2005, David Heller wrote:
>>> 2. Lead the team through a process of designing a solution for this
problem.
>>> Feel free to use the members in front of you however you see fit.
>>>
>>> No matter what level of designer you are, you should have some
collaborative
>>> skills. Design by committee is not good, but neither is designing in
>>> isolation. So figuring out how to use designer attention is really
>>> important.
>>>
>>> This also helps me see if the person would fit well within the team
or not.
>>
>> Hi Dave,
>>
>> I find this very interesting.
>>
>> Could you say more about this? I'd love to know more details about
what an
>> "ideal" candidate does. I'd also like to hear a
>> don't-call-us-we'll-call-you story or two. :)
>>
>> Jared
>>
>>
>> Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
>> 4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
>> 978 777-9123 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
>> Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
>>
>>
>
> -- dave
>
> David Heller
> http://synapticburn.com/
> http://ixdg.org/
> Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
> Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
> AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com
>
>
>
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________________________________________________________________
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19 Dec 2005 - 5:37pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I don't remember exactly what we said, but I think it was something like ...
They wanted to move people to think of them as something other than a media
store (books, music, movies) and get them to think of them as the megastore
they are. Ever notice that nothing in the chest was ever media?

Anyway, that was my guess at the time (I think).

Did I win the cupie doll?

-- dave

On 12/19/05 5:07 PM, "Jared M. Spool" <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

> Very cool. Thanks for elaborating.
>
> One thing jumped out at me:
>
> At 04:31 PM 12/19/2005, David Heller wrote:
>> First, they have a slough of things on their mind.
>> Someone who nailed this, just said, "I've been thinking about the "gold
>> chest" on Amazon. It isn't working for me.
>>
>> She then with my "help" (in this case it was 1 on 1) we deconstructed the
>> purpose of the feature, what makes it tick, and why from a BUSINESS
>> perspective we speculated why it was there in the first place.
>
> What do *you* think the Gold Box business purpose was? (I actually know
> what its original purpose was and what its current purpose is -- it was
> reborn about 7 months ago. I'm curious what y'all came up with. Then I'll
> share what I know -- it's not under NDA.)
>
> I understand that what it's real purpose was is probably irrelevant to your
> hiring exercise (or is it?). I'm just curious what you came up with. (When
> I heard the original purpose, I was a bit surprised, 'cause it wasn't what
> I assumed.)
>
> :)
>
> Jared
>
>
> Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
> 4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
> 978 777-9123 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
> Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
>
>

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

20 Dec 2005 - 5:46pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

At 05:37 PM 12/19/2005, David Heller wrote:
>I don't remember exactly what we said, but I think it was something like ...
>They wanted to move people to think of them as something other than a media
>store (books, music, movies) and get them to think of them as the megastore
>they are. Ever notice that nothing in the chest was ever media?
>
>Anyway, that was my guess at the time (I think).
>
>Did I win the cupie doll?

Pretty close.

My sources tell me that the goal of the original Gold Box was to show you
portions of the site that you hadn't shopped at before. The only reason
nothing in *your* chest was ever media was because you apparently had media
in your history. From what I was told, it worked too, at first. There was a
direct correlation between people who used the Gold Box and whether they
bought in new areas a short period afterwards.

However, two things triggered a change: First, there was some back-end
ugliness. Apparently, the original Gold Box was implemented as a hack and
the implementation was hated by key people in the systems group, so a
redesign was in order.

But, second, (and this is what I found fascinating,) it stopped working.
People stopped clicking on it. The original intention wasn't that people
would *actually* buy anything -- they'd just window shop and eventually
they'd purchase something from the rogue departments at some point in the
future. So, the cry "It isn't working for me because I don't ever get
suggested anything *I'd* want" was acceptable, since the team knew that was
by design.

However, people adapt. And too many sessions where nothing was ever found
worth exploring apparently forced shoppers to lose interest in the feature
and people just stopped clicking on it.

So, now the new design is more conventional: it actually uses the
recommendation engine to suggest things you actually might wanna buy.

The gold box is an interesting case study. The original design tried
something a little too clever: it was highly persuasive while defying user
expectations. But, users are a hearty bunch and don't let themselves be
idly manipulated without some obvious gain to themselves. So, it worked in
the short run but failed in the long run.

That's the story, as I've learned through my sources.

Jared

Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
978 777-9123 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks

21 Dec 2005 - 5:02am
Peter Boersma
2003

Jared M. Spool said:
> The gold box is an interesting case study. The original design tried
> something a little too clever: it was highly persuasive while defying
> user expectations. But, users are a hearty bunch and don't let
> themselves be idly manipulated without some obvious gain to
> themselves. So, it worked in the short run but failed in the long run.

Is this also why the "5c questions" were stopped? I remember a period when,
by answering some simple questions that required a little investigation into
a product, you could "win" some small amount of money (say 5c) that could be
used towards a discount.
Seemed like a smart idea, although a bit sensitive to manipulation...

Peter
--
* Peter Boersma | Consultant User Experience | User Intelligence
*** Vlaardingenlaan 9d | 1059 GL | Amsterdam, The Netherlands
***** p: +31-20-4084296 | m: +31-6-15072747 | f: +31-20-4084298
I mailto:boersma at userintelligence.com | http://www.peterboersma.com/blog

21 Dec 2005 - 5:54am
niklasw
2005

Thanks Jared, interseting reading, almost like reading something from
xooglers ;) And even more, this thread in general was one of those
that I'll keep for future reference. Both for when looking for jobs
and when looking for people. Thank you all.

<even more off topic>
Not really having a point with this discussion but to give you another
view: For me it is also interesting to see how many of you are
referring to amazon as if it is the most natural part of anyones life.
Like email or (almost) having lunch. Sure, I use online stores for
buying stuff but I prefer doing that with local (Swedish) stores. To
me it's like every little move I do at Amazon, they respond with just
another move to lure me in to buying more. I guess it is a bit to
direct for me.

It's just intersting to see the cutural differences in behaviour and
how you on one side refer to Amazon as the most natural thing in the
world and on the other hand dissicate its innermost business/human
behaviour mechanisms.
</even more off topic>

--Niklas

On 20/12/05, Jared M. Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:
> >Did I win the cupie doll?
>
> Pretty close.
>
> My sources tell me that the goal of the original Gold Box was to show you
> portions

--
--Niklas

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