Friday, July 21, 2006

Serious Fun

Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users has a great post (as she often does) on usability through fun. She begins: "I've heard myself say that things can be both usable AND fun, but what if things might be more usable because they're fun? What if we started including fun in our specs?"

What if an OPAC was fun to use? What if your library newsletter and annual report was fun (and funny--Sierra makes clear the distinction between the two)? "The more fun something is, the more likely you are to keep doing it. The more you do it, the better you'll get." This is no-brainer stuff in some ways...we know we do things more readily if they engage us. But there is a sad lack of fun in most of the operations and procedures in libraryland (do students find "information literacy" classes fun?). Ergo, many are not engaging.

Sierra includes an example librarians can relate to. Cities over a certain size are required to produce water quality reports which include a lot of data and so are usually really tedious to look at and read, especially for Jane Q. Public. The city of Bryant, TX made their report fun and more "usable" by turning it into a calendar with tongue-in-cheek "movie" posters featuring real city employees--Flushdance and Reservoir Clogs are two examples. The information provided is the same as it was before but it's presented in a fun--and funny--wrapper. And, duh! More people are reading the data without feeling like it's a chore.

Two related posts on Creating Passionate Users: on cognitive seduction and on not underestimating the power of fun.

In my opinion, this can be added to the lists of skills 21st librarians need that Meredith and Karen have been compiling here, here, and here.

It's Friday. It's all good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been saying that what we want are catalogs that are more useful or more fun--the "more useful" applies chiefly to academic and special libraries, and the "more fun" to public, although of course that's a false dichotomy. Both would be ideal!