All products need a “Wow factor” to grab the attention of the target audience. Usability comes at a later stage, but the wow factor is what gets the user to try the product. It might be a new look, a new use or a new feature. What is important about the wow factor is that it should be completely ‘new’ to the user, nothing similar to any other product.
Designers often think that if you build the product, the users will come automagically and often surprised when their product is not successful. In most design processes, the product evangelist is brought in at the final stage, who promotes the product and develops evangelistic customer base. Evangelists are needed during the design phase to put in killer features and test their “wow factor”. Currently, the features the alpha users like are become more important to the success of the product. Some of the alpha users, if impressed, may turn into a free evangelist for the product. Advertising, as we know is very important for the product to get known in the targeted community. But users with the ability to communicate with friends are getting more control over the fate of a product than ever before.
Bad movies are not getting their guaranteed first week earnings because word travels fast. The Hulk, Charlie’s Angels failed to achieve expected earnings in the first week because of cellphone messaging!!! The matrix revolutions is now being released simultaneously all over the world. 6 a.m. in Los Angeles, 9 a.m. in New York, 2 p.m. in London, 5 p.m. in Moscow, 7:30pm Bombay and 11 p.m. in Tokyo. Cell phones, weblogs, IM, email, online groups, review sites help the words travel fast. You can’t stop people from talking like Google Adsense is trying to do, but you can certainly give good things to the user to talk about.
Products need the ‘wow factor’ which gets them on a weblog post or makes the user recommend it to friends. Skype got into lots of blog posts and had one killer feature “better voice quality”, which got 60,000 downloads in the first week. The need to evangelize skype to use it, also helped the products success. Also, blogs like Unbound spiral kept the meme alive and kept pumping new information about the product.
The first step to many persuasive techniques is to get the users attention. But, the promise made should also be satisfied after grabbing the attention. After all, it’s the worth of the product that ultimately matters to the user. Lokilabs also talks about the Surprise Explain Reward principle and showing the user that Cost of learning + Risks = Benefits.
On similar lines, BBC has Don Norman’s interview where he talks about ‘The Wow factor’, personalization and social interactions.