You might have heard that 800,000 people recently watched live video of two Buzzfeed staffers placing rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded: We Blew Up A Watermelon And Everyone Lost Their Freaking Minds.

The New York Times commented on the watermelon video, drawing this conclusion:

Big changes are coming fast in the way major news institutions present their journalism, what that journalism includes, and how decisions are made about what to include. The goal: to draw big, addicted audiences.

Recently it seems that the goal of customer experience work has shifted to just that: drawing “big, addicted audiences.” And there’s a precedent for how to do it. Just watch Natasha Dow Schull’s Gel video, describing how slot machines use UX to addict their users. And while it works in the short term, I can’t see much long-term value in building new types of slot machines. Why not instead find out what would benefit users, and create that?

There’s an alternative to the addiction model, and I’d describe it as creating a good, authentic experience for users that takes into account their long-term best interests. But that requires aligning leadership around long-term benefits, rather than short-term hits; and making decisions while including customers in the process, rather than relegating them to tactical usability validation. (Read my book Customers Included for much more on this topic.)

Is this an old-fashioned way of seeing the world? Out of step in an attention-driven economy? Maybe. But long-term value – created by a genuinely good experience – will always, eventually, win. (Meantime, we can look forward to seeing more watermelon videos along the way.)

Last Few Days To Sign Up For Gel 2016

If you create or manage a customer experience, you should be at my Gel conference in three weeks, where we’ll explore “good, authentic experience.”

Here’s all Gel 2016 info (May 11-13, 2016 in New York City – sign up here).

Gel 2016 includes…

• 2 days of ideas, inspiration, and experiences showing you how to create better experiences

• Full theater day in the TimesCenter, the outstanding event space in the New York Times building

• Uniquely innovative speakers and sessions covering “experience” from a wide spectrum of disciplines

• Many opportunities to meet Gel attendees in a variety of industries and roles

• Practical approaches and exercises to learn skills of experience design and management

Who’s coming to Gel 2016: Amazon, American Association of Ad Agencies, Amway, Aon, B-Unique, BabyCenter, Breadcrumb Point of Sale, Capital One,, CarMax, Cisco, CITI, Constant Contact, Consumer Reports, Creative Good, Critical Mass, CustomInk,, Dow Jones, Dropbox, Ecolane, Epocrates/athenahealth, Fidelity Investments, GVSU, Groupon, IAG, Infragistics, Launchlabs, Makewaves, Man Made Music, Mozilla, NASA, Netflix, Nickelodeon, OHSU, OTIC Corporation, Phonak, Room & Board, SapientNitro, SAS, Smarter Travel, State Farm, Steelcase, The Big Picture, The Tremendousness Collective, Thinslices, UncommonGoods, Viacom, Yodle, Zinio, ZS Associates, and more!

Register Now at – sign up soon! We begin printing badges in a few days.