Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation Now Available on Amazon


First, we appreciate everyone’s patience while we got this volume out.
And now, from Holly Buchanan‘s Foreword to the book…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and ExpectationAfter inhaling Reading Virtual Minds Volume I I was like an antsy 3-year old waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II. It did not disappoint.
I love the way Joseph Carrabis thinks. He has a unique ability to share broad rich theory with actionable specifics. Unlike many technical writers, he has a unique voice that is both approachable and humorous. It makes for an enjoyable read.
But what’s the main reason why you should read Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experiences and Expectations? Because where most companies and designers fail is on the expectation front.

Humans are designed as expectation engines.

This is, perhaps, the most important sentence in this book. One of the main points Joseph makes in this volume is this – Understand your audiences’ whys and you’ll design near perfect whats.
Design failures come from getting the whys wrong. That can lead to failures on the experience side, but also on the expectation side. And that can be the bigger problem.

Expectation is a top-down process. Higher-level information informs lower-level processing. Experience is a bottom-up process. Sensory information goes into higher-level processing for evaluation. Humans are designed as expectation engines. Topdown connections out number bottom-up connections by about 10:1.

Why is this so important?

In language, more than anywhere else, we see or hear what we expect to hear, not necessarily what is said or written. Across all cultures and languages, neurophysiologists and psychologists estimate that what we experience is as much as 85% what we expect to experience, not necessarily what is real or ‘environmentally available’.

And

When people expect A and get B they go through a few moments of fugue. External reality is not synching up with internal reality and the mind and brain will, if allowed, burn themselves out making the two mesh.

Get your consumer/visitor/user experience AND expectation right, get their why right, and you’ll be exponentially more successful.

Here are just a few of the goodies you’ll find in this book:

  • Privacy vs. value exchange and when to ask for what information. Joseph has some actionable specifics on this that will surprise you.
  • Why we design for false attractors rather than the real problem.
  • The importance of understanding convincer strategies. Convincer strategies are the internal processes people go through in order to convince themselves they should or should not do something.
  • Companies spend a lot of time trying to convince consumers to trust them. But what may be even more important is understanding how to let consumers you know you trust them. This book has ideas on how to show your customers/users/visitors, “I believe in you”.
  • How often our own experience influence our designs. Unless you’re able to throw all your experience out, and let the user’s experience in, get out of the usability and design business.
  • How to allow your visitors easy Anonymous-Expressive Identity and make them yours forever.
  • Regarding new material, design, interface, the importance of making sure your suggestions provide a clear path to the past (thus being risk averse while providing marketable innovation).

As always, Reading Virtual Minds provides specific actionable ideas. But it will also make you think and approach your work in a new way. And I think that’s the best reason to treat yourself to this book and the inner workings of NextStage and Joseph Carrabis.


(and we never argue with Holly Buchanan…)


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Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th edition

It’s with great pleasure and a little pride that we announce Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat “4th EDITION” part is important. We know lots of people are waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and it’s next in the queue.

But until then…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION is about 100 pages longer than the previous editions and about 10$US cheaper. Why? Because Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation is next in the queue.

Some Notes About This Book

I’m actually writing Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation right now. In the process of doing that, we realized we needed to add an index to this book. We also wanted to make a full color ebook version available to NextStage Members (it’s a download on the Member welcome page. And if you’re not already a member, what are you waiting for?)

In the process of making a full color version, we realized we’d misplaced some of the original slides and, of course, the charting software had changed since we originally published this volume (same information, different charting system). Also Susan and Jennifer “The Editress” Day wanted the images standardized as much as possible.

We included an Appendix B – Proofs (starting on page 187) for the curious and updated Appendix C – Further Readings (starting on page 236). We migrated a blog used for reference purposes so there may be more or less reference sources and modified some sections with more recent information.

So this edition has a few more pages and a few different pages. It may have an extra quote or two floating around.

You also need to know that Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History is a “Let’s explore the possibilities” book, not a “How to do it” book. As such, it deals with how NextStage did it (not to mention things that happened along the way). It does not explain how you can do it. This book’s purpose is to open a new territory to you and give you some basic tools for exploration.

There are no magic bullets, quick fixes, simple demonstrations, et cetera, that will turn you into jedis, gurus, kings, queens, samurai, rock stars, mavens, heroes, thought leaders, so on and so forth.

How to Do It starts with Volume II: Experience and Expectation and continues through future volumes in this series. We’ve included a Volume II: Experience and Expectation preview with a How to Do It example on page 302 so you can take a peek if that’s your interest.

That noted, I’m quite sure that you won’t get the full benefit of future volumes without reading this one because unless you’ve read this one you won’t understand the territory you’re exploring in those future volumes.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat’s Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION. It’s so good and so good for you! Buy a copy or two today!


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NextStage Evolution Research Brief – Image v Text Use in Menu Systems


Basis: A one year study of twelve (12) international websites (none in Asia), M/F 63/37, 17-75yo, either in college or college educated, middle to upper income class in all countries studied

Objective: To determine if people were more decisive in their navigation when an image or text was used as a primary navigation motif (menu).

Method: Four separate functions were evaluated

  1. Presentation Format Preference (a simple A/B test)
  2. Sensory to Δt Mapping (time-to-target study)
  3. Teleology (how long did they remain active after acting)
  4. Time Normalization (determines what brain functions are active during navigation)

Results: Key take-aways for this research include

  • Visual (graphic or image)-based menus cause a 40.5% increase in immediate clickthrough, site activity is sustained an additional 32% with site-penetration being an additional 2.48 pages ending in a 36% increase in capture/closure/conversion.
  • Although not tested with Asian audiences, it is doubtful this technique will work with ideographic language cultures
  • The graphics/images used must be clear, distinct and be obvious iconographic metaphors for the items/concepts they open/link to. Example: Images of a WalMart storefront, a price tag with the words “Best Price” and people shopping resulted in greater activity than a simple shopping cart (too familiar as a “What have I already selected?” image) and the simple words “Store” and “Shop” to drive visitors into buying behaviors.
  • Existing sites with text-based menu systems need to use both systems (at the obvious loss of screen real-estate) to train existing visitors on the new iconography until image-based menu items are used more often than text-based menu items.

NextStage Evolution Research Brief – EU Audiences Adapt to and Integrate Site Redesigns Faster than US, GB and Oz Audiences

Basis: This publication concludes a two year study of visitor adaptation to and adoption of new technologies and site redesigns on similar product or purpose sites in the US, EU, GB and Australia. No Asian, South American or African sites were part of this study.

Objective: To determine if neuro-cognitive information biases exist in certain cultures and if so, is there benefit or detriment to those biases?

Method: Twenty sites (monthly visitor populations between 10-35k) were monitored in the USA, Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain and Australia. The sites included social platforms, ecommerce, news-aggregator, travel-destination and research postings. Activity levels were monitored before, during and after design changes were instituted, as well as before, during and after new technologies (podcasts, vcasts, YouTube feeds, social tools) were placed on the sites.

In addition to activity levels a study was made of viral propagation vectors to determine if changes to the site promoted new influencers or demoted existing influencers.

Results:

  • Announced changes to the sites increased adoption and adaptation rates among all visitors (in some cases by as much as 65%)
    • Announced changes most greatly benefitted US, GB and Australian audiences with adaptation and adoption rates increasing 12.5% on average.
  • Site previews increased adoption and adaptation rates among all visitors
    • 77% of EU based visitors who chose to preview site changes became influencers regardless previous social standing on site.
    • 35% of US based visitors who chose to preview site changes became influencers regardless of previous social standing on site.
    • 32.5% of Australian based visitors who chose to preview site changes became influencers regardless of previous social standing on site.
    • 27.5% of GB based visitors who chose to preview site changes became influencers regardless of previous social standing on site.
  • EU audiences demonstrated the highest rates of adaptation to and adoption of new technologies and site redesigns in all categories at 92.5% and 85% respectively.
  • Australian audiences demonstrated the lowest rates of adaptation to and adoption of new technologies and site redesigns in all categories at 30% and 7.5% respectively.

Key take-aways for this research include

  • Travel destination sites should provide a good deal of lead up time to site changes.
    • This lead up time should include previews and announcements.
    • This is especially true for US audiences.
  • Sites introducing social tools should select, train and promote influencers from within the existing visitor community before the social tools are made public.
  • The introduction of social tools to news-aggregator sites recognizably slowed the adaptation and adoption rates of EU audiences.
  • US based audiences were most likely to contact site admins, web admins, managers, etc., criticizing site redesigns and new technology implementations although they were the least likely to abandon sites due to those changes.
  • Australian audiences were the least likely to contact site admins, web admins, managers, etc., criticizing site redesigns and new technology implementations although they were the most likely to abandon a site due to those changes.
  • EU based audiences were the most likely to visit several sites all serving the same purpose.
  • EU based audiences were the most likely to give a site “time to settle” during redesign and new technology implementation before returning to it on a regular basis.