A User Experience is greater than the sum of it’s Touchpoints

Last week, after a conversation with a colleague, I tweeted “A User Experience is greater than the sum of it’s Touchpoints”. It seemed such an intuitive statement, but almost immediately after hitting [Enter] I started to ask myself “what on earth does that really mean?”. Since it was retweeted quite a lot I thought i’d better spend some time thinking about it!

Space Time; the Final Frontier; As User Experience professionals we expend so much effort on the visual (layout, navigation, aesthetics, etc.) we sometimes forget that our users experience things over time. Whether a few seconds – page to page, or a few weeks – visit to visit, the time between touchpoints causes things to happen to memory which changes the context of the next (and subsequent) touchpoints.

Human memory; Users may remember or forget particularly good or bad interactions, changing the context and their perception of the next touchpoint, a perception they would not have if they only interacted with that single touchpoint.

Computer memory; The system may remember or forget information from one touchpoint to the next (usernames, reference numbers, last items viewed, last state, etc.), changing the context of the experience (for good or bad) from that which they would have experienced if they had only interacted with that single touchpoint.

The takeaway? Do what Kirk did to Khan, but go one better – think in the 4th dimension, time.

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