Successful marketing makes a product more desirable. User interaction design makes software more desirable. So is user interaction design successful marketing for software? I think so.
With so many folks talking about the iPhone right now, it surprises me how few people remark on the effect of its lovely interaction design. Notice the difference between the advertisements for the iPhone and every other phone on the market. Other phones show people talking on the phone, snapping pictures of each other, dancing around, getting into kung fu battles with phones as weapons, everything except what the iPhone ads show you: how you use the phone. Think about that. They sell the iPhone by showing you thirty seconds of someone using it, assuming that this will make people want it … which it does, because people recognize that using a product with good interaction design feels good.
- Jonathan Korman, Intuition, pleasure, and gestures
If we intend to sell our software to the masses, we need to adopt the iPhone marketing model. Whether or not you agree, most people find the iPhone ads desirable. My friend's 5-year-old son will come running into the room to watch a commercial when he hears the distinctive iPhone music. I will stop my TiVo to watch an iPhone or iPod Touch ad. And I own an iPod Touch! The interface is so pleasurable that we want to watch people use it.
But even companies that don't have the money to run TV spots should aspire to the standard that Apple has set. Software sells by word-of-mouth. Every time a user fires up your software, they should be seeing an ad.
I'm not talking about ad-supported software. I'm talking about the user having such a great experience that they want to tell people about it. I'm talking about a user interface so fun that people want to watch it on YouTube.
The iPhone is sorely lacking in features. The iPod Touch has extremely limited capacity for the price and crashes fairly often. But the icons fly in when you hit the home button. And the album cover flips and rotates when you turn it. These are the things that you see in the commercials. These things are fun. These are the things that sell.