As a company, we have just moved completely to the Office365 suite, mostly driven by a desire to improve our email (though it was pretty good before) and also from a desire to start using Lync (even though we are big users of Skype already) for our internal communications because of the way it looks at our diaries and indicates whether we are free for conversation or not (which is called presence).
One of the things we struggled with for a while was how to add photographs to our O365 profiles (all sorted now). Most of us already had nice photographs in our Skype profiles and I was struck, when using Lync, by how much less involving it felt before we worked out how to add pictures to it. Then it dawned on me… I couldn’t see the person I was talking to. Even though it was just a static picture the absence or presence of it made a big difference to how I felt, how engaged in the conversation I remained and whether I became distracted and tried to do other things instead of listening.
It’s only a little thing, but this small personal picture made it about the person and not the technology. When there is no picture my mind wanders; when the picture is there so, in my sub-conscious, is the person.
I noticed the same thing on my mobile phone; integration with LinkedIn and Facebook means that at least half of my contacts in my contact list have pictures of the people concerned. I can find those people much more quickly when I need to call them as a consequence and interact with them more strongly when I’m using my mobile.
Human beings are programmed genetically to be brilliant at face recognition; activities involving faces engage the deeper, older parts of our brains. Last week I re-tweeted a comment from the good chaps at Bliss-Systems “User interfaces need to be intuitive because, like words and sentences, people don’t really read them.” On reflection there is more to it than this, user interfaces need to engage people at a primal level not just at the cognitive level; they need to make it feel like we’re interacting with a person not a machine; they need to provide visual cues and social touch points that make it feel like we are interacting with people.
So… make it about people, not tech. We have added pictures all over our solutions now. Personalisation means more than we realise…