Sticky UX vs. Slippy UX
When looking for UX trends 2015 on the internet, you will stumble upon one term coined by Frog Design’s Assistant Creative Directot Jake Zukowski: slippy ux. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), a new kind of UX is needed that allows the user to concentrate on the important parts of a situation. In the following, concepts of slippy UX and sticky UX are presented as well as possible fields of application and the connection to IoT.
The term sticky UX describes many companies’ goals regarding their digital products: their apps or websites are designed to be interesting and engaging so that users enjoy spending time on them. The more time users spend on a webpage, the higher the chance that they convert to customers. Even if the user does not convert to a customer, the experience should be memorable, so that she may visit again or at least talk about it and recommend visiting it. With regard to this goal, several trends have developed in the past years: for example the trend of using Gamification to engage the user.
Especially for e-Commerce websites and applications, sticky UX is interesting: often user come to website searching for a certain product. With a sticky UX, they may spend further time on the website just to browse, instead of leaving it once the product had been found (or not found). When browsing, there is the possibility that the user may find another product of her taste and converts to a customer after all.
UX in the rise of IoT
The Internet of Things reached the mainstream: with smart drive, smart home and wearables the world gets more and more connected. User experiences increasingly dependent on the context. A certain degree of concentration is to be expected from the user, be it at home on the computer, or when using smart phones (e.g. used during waiting times). An entertaining application only answers the user’s needs. With the rise of IoT however, new challenges and requirements need to be considered.
Wearables are worn 24/7 and are directly connected to the internet. They have very small displays if any at all. Nonetheless, the user wants to see all information at a glance and needs to understand what is displayed to him.
In the area connected drive there are demanding requirements as well. Athough the screens are sufficiently sized, other needs may need to be considered: the user is likely to drive during the interaction and needs to concentrate on this activity. Too much distracting information could endanger his safety. Thus, it is important to minimize visual input and to present the information comprehensibly. Also, the design of the product should take this into account.
When using smart home applications, the user is surrounded by the product whenever she is at home, all the time. Such a system should work seamlessly and almost unnoticed once it is installed; almost no active interactions should be required. Experiences in the house need to be improved indirectly without disrupting daily routines and processes. Same is true for wearables.
How should the UX be designed in systems like these? What is the goal for our UX?
The areas mentioned above (wearables, connected drive und smart home) have in common that an engaging interaction (which was the goal so far) is not suitable any more. Rather the opposite is the case: as little time and mental effort as possible should be invested in the interaction so that the user can focus on her surroundings and more pressing matters. Both, design and interaction concept need to be developed keeping this in mind.
This is the goal of slippy UX: interfaces are designed to display minimal information, only displaying essentials which can be captured at one glance. As much information as possible generates as little output as possible. Also, timing plays an important role: information is only displayed when necessary and according to the user’s current state. The center of the concept is always a concrete use case, so that only essential information is presented and interactions required as are really essential.
Furthermore, automation and personalization are a big part of slippy UX: habits can be traced and predicted so that the information is displayed at the right time without requiring an active interaction of the user. In cars for example, this could mean that certain information is not displayed whenever the driver is not alone.
Whereas creative, sticky UX approaches lead to wow-effects and engagement of the user, it is hard for slippy UX to elicit these same effects. However, users appreciate carefully designed technologies that incorporate the context. An example of successfully implemented slippy UX is the Nest thermostat which learns its user’s behavior, anticipates the desired temperatures and automatically regulates the air conditioning. Then, only on demand, the extremely simple interface can be used for adjustments. Usually, when mentioning a thermostat in a conversation, you will not gain much more than a yawn, but Nest is different. Since 2013, this device causes almost euphoric dimensions in the US population: up to 50 000 pieces per month are sold, no wonder that Nest was acquired by Google – for 3.2 billion dollars.
Both, sticky and slippy UX have their right to exist, but context is key. Users are observed and their requirements are investigated to find information about contexts/ situations and use cases. Knowing these, designers can decide what kind of interaction is appropriate to satisfy user needs.
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