The Wow Effect (10secs vs. 10mins)

The explosions of plug-ins today have brought innovative ways to visual experience online in ways that are both exciting and dangerous. I say dangerous, as on one hand they are visually appealing they are at times useless and typically can end up becoming a trend.

The Muse.


I had the pleasure of being a part of a workshop at MIX09 with Rick Barazza in which he highlighted a point called the 10second vs. 10minute wow. I must admit I didn’t pay all that much attention as I was in/out with customers, but I felt I understood his point he was attempting to make. In my own words I’ll echo where I think this point could go?

If you see a solution and in the first 10seconds, you get immediate feedback of emotion (meaning wow, this rocks) it’s easy to then grade that as “this is the best of the web”. If after 10mins however your feedback with the said experience begins to degrade and it’s simply this cool effect that has little or no functional purpose, it’s not past the crucial 10minute wow.

Essentially you have 10seconds to make an impact, you then have the next 9mins 50 to retain that impact and should you still score high post the 10minute mark, your ability to produce an effective experience has greater potential.

Let’s look at a WoW Effect Matrix.


Got to a site on FWA and pick 10 sites. Now grab a pen and paper, and rate your experience after 10 seconds of usage (allow for loading etc).

At the 10second interval, I want you to then rate the experience in two categories.

Form (0= Average and 5=Outstanding).
Form is about the user experience, was it fun to use, did you find it easy to navigate, was it rewarding etc, all emotive feedback you can muster and allocate a score against that connects via UI.

Function(0=Average and 5=Outsanding)
Did this experience have a purpose, did you retain any information that helped you? Was it able to provide you with anything beyond a visual connection?

Write down your score for both. Now proceed to repeat this again after 10mins of using the said solution (should you even feel compelled to stay for the full 10mins. If you don’t then they automatically are rated 0).

Now using the WoW Effect Matrix below for each score per category, you’ll see what WoW effect you potentially could have per category.


If you score high meaning the darkest blues, you’ve done a great job in each category and stand to retain your audience beyond the initial viewing. If however you score low, your ability to retain the audience maybe high risk and consider balancing out the Function vs. Form aspect of your experience.

If you score in the middle, then it’s not that bad, but it could go either way and so it would reduce your risk of abandonment by optimizing in either category that you feel is weak.

Why is this important to those whom create with Silverlight?


There’s this myth floating around on the web, that unless you have ubiquity, people won’t install plug-ins. It’s actually false, and look at either Flash or Silverlight download rates and you’ll see that people are willing to install a plug-in should the experience or solicitation of the said experience be worth the install.

The reason this myth is being portrayed is because folks tend to look at their failure to install rates and go “ahah! See, plug-ins are bad..long live AJAX”. I see this all too often and shake my head, as typically they failed in soliciting the end user to actually install – “Get Silverlight” isn’t solicitation, its laziness.

Assuming they do install or have the said plug-in, the next argument is “ahah! See they didn’t stay, people don’t like plug-ins” which is also incorrect. You didn’t hold up to your end of the bargain, meaning you didn’t produce a compelling experience.

As chances are, you scored low on the WoW Effect. You didn’t provide the end users a compelling experience and just because you spent 30k+ on a compelling solution, doesn’t mean you automatically get 30k+ retention in end users. It’s no different to any medium out there and it ranges from TV, Movies, Games, and Websites etc.

When you produce a Silverlight experience, you simply need to balance between great visual effects and UI feedback whilst at the same time ensuring the functionality of what you’re producing has meaning. Going nuts on Deep Zoom isn’t enough as great, I can zoom in and out, so what? What else do you have for me? Why am I even here on this solution and so on?

Out Of Browser whilst being hailed an immediate success already, is going to be also quite dangerous in terms of WoW Effect. As whilst it’s great I can take my experiences online and offline, the reality is why should I even bother? Just because I can, doesn’t mean I will.

It comes back to balancing the function vs. form.

I have no idea if this was what Rick wanted to convey, but that’s my take on The WoW Effect anyway.