UX Stories: User Control

We often want to persuade people to prioritize customer control, both online and offline. We’re not going to convince our business colleagues by citing Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design or Tognazzini’s First Principles, so here’s a story that might do the job.

Two Banks

I needed to pay some bills. I went to check one account but couldn’t remember the password my husband said he’d changed it to. I clicked the forgot password link and was asked for my email address. I received an email with a link, which took me to a page where I could reset my password. I changed it and got into the account, but unfortunately, did not have enough in that bank account to pay the last bill, due the next day.

So I went to my other bank’s dreaded website, and tried logging in. Firefox prefilled the password for me. “Invalid password.” I rarely know this password as you’re require to change it every two months, and you can not repeat any of your last six passwords.  My fear began to mount. I knew I only had two more tries and then the website would lock me out. There is no forgot password link. If I got locked out, I not only would have to wait for regular business hours, I’d have to physically go to the bank two towns away because they can’t achieve the magic of resetting passwords at the branch in my town. But I had no choice. I had to try to pay the bill. Sure enough. I ended up locked out, and taking a long lunch the next day.

Stories prime the room for conversation

I’ve been reading Whitney Quesenbery and Kevin Brook’s book, Storytelling for User Experience. While the book has useful tips about using data-rich stories throughout design processes, it has made me aware of my need for a bank of stories for persuading people about common user experience pitfalls. When we have a good bank of stories on hand, we can use them to set the scene for exploring solutions. What stories do you use to help people value user control?

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