I’m very happy to announce that Creative Good has just launched our first iPhone game, Brooklyn 1776, which challenges you to play through (and thus learn) the events of the Battle of Brooklyn, an early crucial battle of the American Revolutionary War.

And I want to ask you for a favor.

Download the game. Play it. And then write us a review on the App Store. It’ll cost you a buck and a few minutes, and you’ll be giving us super-helpful support, as we’ve tried to create another good experience for you and the whole Creative Good community.

I’m excited for Creative Good to enter the games market, even as we continue to grow our customer experience consulting, because games are vital to study for anyone interested in experience design:

• Games are becoming the most influential medium in the world – outstripping TV, films, and other media for the attention and interaction of users, especially millennials and those younger.

• Games are the purest expression of experience design in the digital environment. If it’s not engaging and fun, users won’t play. Period. Designing a game forces you to sharpen your skills.

• Given the tremendous influence of the medium, there’s a giant opportunity to create games that benefit the player (in the case of Brooklyn 1776, by teaching them through the gameplay, rather than any didactic method).

The new Broadway musical “Hamilton” is a perfect example of that last point, and it served as one of our inspirations in creating Brooklyn 1776. I was lucky to see “Hamilton” this past summer, and I’ve recommended it widely since.

There’s something magical about seeing the story of the American founding fathers told through a kaleidoscope of musical styles – and, for that matter, a kaleidoscope of colors in the cast. The show is brilliant, inspiring, and surprisingly patriotic: the American ideal, as presented by “Hamilton,” is still relevant, still worth learning about, still worth celebrating.

If a Broadway musical can do it, so can an iPhone game. And while Brooklyn 1776 isn’t anywhere near the scope or richness of “Hamilton,” it does have this similarity: we try to bring people through a moment in American history in a completely new medium. And give them some knowledge and inspiration along the way.

So, please, give Brooklyn 1776 a few minutes of your time. If this game does well enough, we’ll know that you’re encouraging us to create more games that benefit the player.

Download Brooklyn 1776

• Learn more about the game: press kit and blog

BK76_image-3 BK76_image-2

In the past month I’ve spoken about Customers Included to Amazon, the New York Times, Paylocity, a group of retail CEOs in Milan, Italy, and NASA – among other teams. (About NASA: read my story “Why the B-17s kept crashing” in Chapter 5 – UX got its start in airplanes and space capsules!)

I give credit to the teams bringing me in to learn a bit more, get a bit better, at including customers. They’re exceptional. Because here are a few patterns I commonly see elsewhere in industry, where customers are typically not included:

1. Everyone agrees that customers should be included in decisionmaking.

2. Most executives say they have every intention of including customers.

3. But when confronted with their next strategic initiative, decisionmakers commonly say that there’s no time built into the project to properly include customers.

Right now is budget season for hundreds, maybe thousands, of teams – right now – planning how they will structure their next launch, redesign, strategy, or other initiative. Those budgets will include items for things like…
• visual design
• technology
• marketing
• promotion
…and so on.

Just one thing is missing, one last puzzle piece to fully deliver a good customer experience: spending time with customers, to find out what they want.

To really include customers, you should include them even before the project starts, in the initial planning of the project. And that means including them in the budget.

So: buck the trend! Other teams are busy planning their project budget, down to the napkins at the launch party, while leaving customers out – hoping that they can “launch first, and iterate later to what customers want.”

Smart teams will do something different: include the customer in the budget now, so that you don’t get to launch date later – having ignored customers – and hear someone say, “Why didn’t we spend any time with customers before this point?”

(P.S. About my Customers Included talks… see my speaker packet on our About page.)

I’m happy to announce the newly redesigned Creative Good website, at creativegood.com, which we’ve been putting together for the last few months.

Following the Customers Included approach, we…

• set a solid business context, stating our goals for the redesign and the tangible measures of success we’d look for post-launch.

• ran listening labs, observing people using our previous site and some competitor sites. (Turns out we needed to improve – a lot.)

• iterated wireframes through several rounds until we were ready to move to final design and implementation.

I’m happy with the result. I hope you’ll find that our consulting, Gel conference, and other projects are spotlighted in a way that shows our enthusiasm for creating good experiences.

In particular, I’m proud to introduce you to the Creative Good team – see headshots and bios on the About page – and want to thank them for their help in building the new site. Thanks also to Debbie Koo and Shannon Carroll for their leadership.

Now it’s your turn: take a look at the new site and let me know what you think: mark@creativegood.com … –Mark

It’s really not complicated. As I finished up a talk on Customers Included recently to a room of senior leaders here in New York City, I tried to summarize customer experience into three sentences:

1. Spend time with customers. (Don’t claim there’s no time… customers will be included eventually on launch day, so why not earlier?)

2. Find out what they want. (Don’t ask them what they want, find out. There’s a difference – see Chapter 6.)

3. Give it to them. (Don’t forget: give customers a good experience, and you’ll get more customers.)

It’s so simple – so head-slappingly, face-palmingly simple – you have to wonder why some companies seem determined to mistreat customers.

david-segal-gel2015 Some of my favorite stories about how companies treat customers come from the New York Times’ “Haggler” column, written by David Segal. I was happy that he told some of these stories at my Gel 2015 conference.

Video of David Segal, New York Times ‘The Haggler’ columnist, at Gel 2015.

If you have customers, it’s well worth watching.

(And p.s. if you’d like me to tell more stories about customer experience in innovation and product management, see my speaker packet or just invite me to speak.)

If you’re involved in creating a user or customer experience, you should be playing videogames. Seriously. At least enough to have some fluency about what games can do.

Think about it: playing a game is totally optional, with no real-world outcomes hanging in the balance. Thus games are an especially pure expression of experience design.

The only reason people are going to play, and keep playing, a game is if the experience is good. Or as Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president, said in 2006, “Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun.” (Iwata passed away last week – read his NYT obituary.)

Thus if you study successful games, you should be able to glean some insight into the design of good, effective experiences.

At my Gel 2015 conference a few months ago, I invited two speakers to explore this idea – of learning about good experience from the example of good games. Even if you don’t play games (and you should!), you can learn a lot from these two talks about creating good experiences.

andy-baio-gel20151. Andy Baio, writer, host of XOXO
To share his love of videogames with his son, Andy Baio conducted a remarkable experiment: he encouraged his son to play several decades’ worth of videogames… in the order that they were released. In his Gel talk, Baio describes why he ran the experiment, what games his son played, and what they learned along the way.

paul-murphy-gel20152. Paul Murphy, CEO, Dots
They’re doing something right at Dots. Paul’s New York-based game studio has released just two iPhone games – Dots and Two Dots – both of which have enjoyed wide popularity. In his Gel talk, Paul discusses what inspires the experience design at Dots, and how other teams can be similarly inspired.

As for what games you should play, one good resource is this good iOS games list (reminiscent of my old Good Experience Games list, but actually up-to-date). I particularly recommend Osmos, Tiny Wings, and Dungeon Raid.

P.S.: I’ll post separately, but Creative Good is working on our own iPhone game: Brooklyn 1776, an iPhone game that will allow you to play through the Battle of Brooklyn – a crucial early battle in the American revolution. Read more about Brooklyn 1776 here.

Watch the Gel 2015 videos:

Video of Andy Baio, writer, entrepreneur, host of XOXO

Video of Paul Murphy, CEO, Dots