It's been so long since we've talked to our neighbors in our communal workspace. We are back in the office, but it’s pretty much a ghost-town in here. There were a few others in the space, but no one really engaging, likely for fear of crossing the socially distant guidelines. So how were people communicating? And how could we find out?
So we set off on a data-finding mission, and halfway through changed our goal completely.
Here’s how it went:
Week One: We wrote the question “What Communication Tools Have You Been Using” and drew a small conversation bubble for visual interest on a brightly colored piece of paper and taped it on the door with a stack of sticky notes beside it. There wasn't much to it and we didn't think there had to be much to it considering the other office's around us normally don't have anything on their doors facing into the public hallway. We’d leave up for a few days, gather info from passersby and make an infographic in a week or so with all our responses! Should be fun, right?
Week Two: Well, not so much. No one responded. We were sure people at least saw the sign on the door, but no one stopped to answer it. What was happening? After brainstorming, we decided to shift the goal of this project. How could we use design principles to tweak our project enough to get engagement? And off we went! A good place to start was the basic UX principle of simplifying the user experience and eliminating barriers to engagement. The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through reduction - in this case reducing the steps the user must take to engage. We counted out the steps and currently, there were five steps. 1. Remove the tape from the stack of sticky notes. 2. Pull off a sticky note from the stack. 3. Tape the rest of the stack back to the door. 4. Write an answer on the sticky note. 5. Stick it somewhere on our door. We changed the stack of sticky notes into individual notes and condensed the number of steps down to two. 1. Write an answer on the sticky note. 2. Stick it somewhere on our door. By reducing the number of steps to pick up a sticky note, the hope was that people would see that the entire interaction with our door was easy and would take less than a minute to complete and would encourage them to write us a response.
Week Three: What the heck? Was anyone walking by? We were so surprised to see that we STILL didn't gain any responses but were determined to get someone to respond by the end of the month. We needed another design principle at play. Have you ever seen a community bulletin board with "tear away flyers”? Maybe they read “Call For A Dog Walker” and have the phone number printed several times on the bottom for you to rip one off? Did you know, if you make one of those, you should tear a few strips off before you even post it? This is because of the principle of “SOCIAL PROOF”. People are more likely to tear a tab with a phone number on it if some strips are already pulled off. Playing off this, we wrote some example answers on a few sticky notes with different colored pens and different handwriting- giving a visual demonstration of the result of engagement and hoping that would get the ball rolling enough. If passersby saw OTHERS were engaging, it would make them feel comfortable enough to join them and write one too.
Week Four: Still crickets... This is the last week of the month, so this change had to be big. We’re talking PERSONALIZATION big. People have a tendency to engage at higher rates when addressed with their name or a personal pronoun. In fact, according toYes Lifecycle Marketing, personalizing email subject lines can increase open rates by 50%. So, we tried some personalized callouts. To make sure that these callouts were nearly impossible to walk by without acknowledging, we made a big change to the design of the door as well. We took advantage of both doors instead of just one and used more brightly colored paper, making them hard to miss. We added a callout, "HEY YOU!" followed by a series of lines guiding the viewer toward a call to action, "GRAB A POST-IT" then to the individual sticky notes placed to the right of our question. This direct callout would play on that personalization concept and help passers-by know they were supposed to answer it and the series of lines are guiding the viewer through the callouts on the door as if it were having a conversation with them. And guess what, by updating the design of the door by adding these personalized callouts and a series of lines to guide someone through the conversation, we finally grabbed someone's attention and gained a response! Hooray!
We’re calling this one mission accomplished. Still, we'd like to hear what you would've done in this situation. What would you have changed to heighten engagement?