Death to Features! Long Live Touchpoints – Interactions, Macro-Interactions and Micro-Interactions

As a longtime advocate of Human-Centered Design, I belong to a group of people who have been desperately trying to get folks to stop thinking about features and instead, think about the human interactions with our brand, products and services. Chris Risdon, at Adaptive Path, did a great job of summing this up in his blog, Un-Sucking the Touchpoint. Chris points out that a touchpoint is not a channel, platform or medium, but a point of human interaction. It could be advertisement, packaging, a website or kiosk, a sales rep or customer service – any interaction a person can have with your organization. From a Designer’s perspective, touchpoints are “a point of interaction involving a specific human need in a specific time and place.” A touchpoint is a moment in time. It might be a singular microinteraction within a single channel, or it may be a series of actions crossing multiple channels. Wayfinding, product descriptions, explanations of services, data visualizations, asking questions of a customer service rep, typing in a search engine, talking with an advisor, giving billing information for a purchase, favoriting a post, ect. – are all touchpoints – all human interactions. To put this in context, people have a series of interactions with your organization – a journey. Smart organizations map these journeys – denoting the touchpoints (interactions) along the journey. These touchpoints are macro-interactions and are made up interactions and micro-interactions. Activity, tasks, actions and operations. Chris shares that regardless of scale and scope, touchpoints provide something better to qualitative if we are meeting the needs of our audience. We want that moment to be:

  • Appropriate (context + culture)
  • Relevant (meeting needs/functional)
  • Meaningful (importance/purpose)
  • Endearing (subtle, playful, creating delight)

And lastly, whichever of these principles a touchpoint meets, it should be connected seamlessly in the journey.

“In this respect, every moment within the journey, be it a product ecosystem or a complex service experience, should justify its existence through its own value proposition. Does it meet one or more of these principles, and does it connect seamlessly with the other touchpoints and moments? Setting a qualitative bar for a touchpoint ensures its relevancy in the journey.”

Amen Chris!