The Single-
Button
Experience

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Brand Affinity Through Single-Button Simplicity

Brian Edgin

“Keep it simple,” “make it intuitive,” “don’t make them think” have been mantras of usability for many, many years. However, there is a recent trend, enabled by a confluence of innovations and technologies, that brings the simplify mantra to its logical conclusion: The single-button, or single-interaction, interface. Brands such as Amazon, Apple, and Uber have led the way with this trend, and 2017 is shaping up to have many others follow. If it is possible for you to reduce your brand’s user experience down to this type of simple interaction, the impact on adoption and brand affinity can be significant.

Although technology enables this trend, technology is also responsible for its need. According to Joseph McCormack, author of “BRIEF: Making a Bigger Impact by Saying Less,” the average professional receives 304 emails every week, checks their smartphone 150 times per day, and spends 28 hours each week reading and responding to emails. McCormack says, “People’s brains are taxed” because “too many things are competing for our attention.” He goes on to make the point that if you can’t get to the point quickly, you risk being dismissed or ignored.

Furthermore, a survey of Canadian media consumption by Microsoft concluded that average attention span had fallen to eight seconds, down from 12 seconds in the year 2000. In the same report, Satya Nadella, the chief executive officer of Microsoft, said, “The true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention.”

In this economy of attention and our increasingly fast-paced lifestyles, the difference between success or failure often comes down to seconds. The Internet is rife with stories of people too busy to pause and take two minutes to order paper towels via the Amazon app. Ask those people if they could say “I need some more paper towels” or click a button to have them delivered, and it’s a different story. Hence, the Amazon Echo and Amazon Dash Button.

The single-interaction experience can be any single interaction to accomplish a task. Those interactions can include moving an object, scanning a fingerprint, speaking a command, making a single selection, entering a single term, or pressing a single button.

Let’s list a few real-world examples for reference:

  • Amazon Dash Button
  • Amazon Echo
  • Apple Pay (at the register and online)
  • Many Apple Watch features
  • Social login
  • Raise to wake
  • Uber

All of these have one key thing in common: They rely on predetermined user preferences and/or data to reduce the actual user interaction required per task. At its core, this is not new. On sign-up, ask the user to fill out a bunch of information, including their personal preferences. Then, when they use the app, bingo, you only have to ask for the one or two things needed to get the job done. However, in that scenario, the sign-up process can be long and cumbersome. There are a number of smarter approaches to collecting or discovering the information needed to simplify the required user interaction, and the best solutions tend to use a combination of these. Here are a few techniques that can be used.

Collect Additional User-Provided Data Up Front or on Subsequent Uses

An example of this would be how Amazon collects payment information from customers on first use, then, on subsequent orders, if different information is provided, that information is also saved. Customers can then select a different credit card with a single click.

Collect Environmental Data at Time of Transaction

(e.g., location, time, device)

Waze is a good example of this. It uses GPS data for your current location and time of day to set the display to day or night mode.

Consider Historical Data

(e.g., What did the user do in the past? What is their typical behavior?)

Personalization in general is almost entirely based on this. But the same data can be used to intelligently default options for a given interaction. For example, Amazon stores each delivery address you use. Then, at checkout time, it shows you an intelligent list made up of a combination of the most used and recently used.

Derive Intelligence Through Correlation of All Available Data

(e.g., Tom is 300 miles away from home and located at a hotel. It is 5:00 p.m., and Tom has nothing on his calendar for this evening.)

Google and Apple have both recently introduced features where travel time is considered when reminding you of an appointment. This requires correlating appointment time, location of the appointment, and current location. Further correlation of data, such as traffic, mode of transportation, available parking, etc., could also be used.

Let’s look at two examples that take advantage of many of these techniques.

Apple Pay

Not only is Apple Pay a “single-button” experience in use, but Apple also makes good use of many of the techniques above to streamline its setup. Given that your iPhone is already secure, entering your credit card information is all that is required. To assist with that, Apple lets you use the iPhone’s camera to “scan” your card. That’s all the setup there is. When you are ready to pay at the register, you just hold your phone over the card reader and use your fingerprint to authenticate the transaction.

Uber

Let’s start by considering what data is needed to schedule and pay for a ride.

  • Payment details
  • Pickup location
  • Pickup time or ETA of pickup
  • Number in party/type of vehicle
  • How the driver can contact you
  • How you can contact the driver
  • Destination

When you sign up for Uber, you provide your email, mobile number, and credit card information. When arranging for a pickup, the app assumes you wish to be picked up where you are currently. Pickup time defaults to ASAP, and, before you even make your request, the app tells you how long you will have to wait. Vehicle type is simply the nearest one, unless you specify otherwise. (Unless you have a large party, you won’t even consider this option, so the app doesn’t make a big deal out of it.) Your contact information is provided to the driver automatically, and the information you need to contact the driver is provided by the app. All that remains is for you to indicate your destination.

Just about any interaction that is required between your brand and your customers is a candidate for the kind of simplicity we are talking about. Even if the end result isn’t a true “single-button experience,” the techniques listed, and others like them, can be used to simplify customer interaction, even if the end result isn’t that “single-interaction experience.” According to the 2015 Global Brand Simplicity Index by Siegel + Gale, 69 percent of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it provides simpler experiences and communications. Additionally, 63 percent of consumers were willing to pay more for simpler experiences.

As you see in the list of examples above, more and more companies are striving to reduce the required interaction per transaction down to the minimum. They know that reducing the complexity of those interactions will result in more transactions as well as higher brand affinity. Furthermore, if the user finds the amount of simplicity surprising, you also increase the likelihood that your customers will talk to others about their experience.

Suggestions to help simplify customer interaction:

  • Identify all the ways customers interact with your brand. This could be purchase, setup, use, getting support, making a donation, sharing on social media, visiting a location, etc.
  • Examine the step-by-step user interaction for those interactions.
  • Look at each piece of information the customer provides, and ask yourself if that information has ever been provided before.
  • Look at each choice made, and consider if it could be predetermined with a high success rate based on prior user behavior and/or environmental data.
  • Build a mockup of a revised process, and test it with your customers.
  • Put the refined changes out there for real-world use, with the ability to measure and revise ongoing.
  • Brian EdginBrian Edgin

    User Experience Architect
    At Click Here Labs, Brian acts as the voice of the user for clients including Biltmore, Dr Pepper, and The Salvation Army. This involves planning information architecture, generating site maps and wireframes, and conducting usability testing – all to ensure the best possible user experience. Brian also helps run the agency maker lab. In his spare time, Brian enjoys teaching his kids the joys of Arduino prototyping and 3D printing.

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