User Experience Depreciates

Keeping the user experience as a net positive requires attention, resources, buttressing, and the humility that the delight you create now will wane.

When is the last time you actively saved your progress? Think a moment. Word, Medium, WordPress, Google Docs, …, each autosave as you write; Red Dead Redemption 2 autosaves, too, at prolonged intervals that punish you a little for sucking but — small blessings — ensures you’ve not lost hours of your life because you couldn’t steer your horse away from a tree.

Still, autosave still largely feels like an attractive feature, but as a feature it is beginning its drift, its depreciation, its slide down and to the right — into convention.

You have to think about it before you realize you haven’t thought about it.

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Consider for instance the plight of the floppy-disk button requiring action on your part to save your work. In the shadow of autosave this almost feels like an encumbrance, but — of course — an editor without any option to save would be worst in class.

There must have been a time, however, where manually saving your work was attractive, a user experience differentiator that made the choice easier between two word-processing products that were functionally identical. Even though life was surely hard, having to walk to school uphill both ways and huddle around the cave fire in the blackest, darkest night.

Satisfying features, given time, drift down and to the right, becoming basic expectations.

The Kano model predicts that attractive features, over time, drift down and to the right into basic expectations. Saving, what once was a neat concept, now garners no reward for its implementation, but you’ll sure hear about it if it’s absent.

I notice now that as I draft this in Google docs there isn’t even an obvious manual save button, which indicates that this drift for autosaves is well on its way. Gravity takes over.

In Google Docs there is no obvious way to manually save your progress

This brings me to my point.

A user experience depreciates. Keeping the user experience as a net positive requires attention, resources, buttressing, and the humility that the delight you create now will wane.


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