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Badass: Making Users Awesome

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  621 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Imagine you’re in a game with one objective: a bestselling product or service. The rules? No marketing budget, no PR stunts, and it must be sustainably successful. No short-term fads.

This is not a game of chance. It is a game of skill and strategy.

And it begins with a single question: given competing products of equal pricing, promotion, and perceived quality, why does one
Paperback, 294 pages
Published February 23rd 2015 by O'Reilly Media (first published January 1st 2015)
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Tomas Kafka Definitely. For me, the main takeaway were two eye-opening ways of how experts learn, and that was something that's directly applicable today to…moreDefinitely. For me, the main takeaway were two eye-opening ways of how experts learn, and that was something that's directly applicable today to become a better developer, designer, photographer ... anything.(less)

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4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  621 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Dmitry Trofimov
May 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
It is very difficult for me to rate this book. Before I read it, I had heard a lot of recommendations and reviews, all of them described the book as a 'must read'. And many of them were from people I respect. I even watched one of Kathy Sierra's conference talks (unfortunately, don't remember which exactly), but I remember clearly that I liked the way she spoke, her ideas. I thought that she was a brilliant speaker and that the book should definitely be great and that someday I must read it. And ...more
Yevgeniy Brikman
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read on product design and development. Actually, it's less of a book and more of a slideshow, with tons of stock photos, diagrams, flow charts, and relatively little text, but the format works, and it conveys the key themes of the book in a clear and memorable way. Those themes are:

* Your goal is not to create a great product, but to create great users. Your product, as well as all the documentation, marketing, and community around it, should be focused on hel
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, paper, craft
I love Kathy Sierra's writing, but I didn't expect to be so blown away by this book. It was everything she had been trickling out in her blog, but more so, refined and honed into a few key points.

I thought it seemed light and insubstantial, with a lot of pictures and white space. I needed all that white space, and I still ended up putting the book down every 50 or 60 pages so I could digest all the new ways of thinking I was being presented with. It's written for product designers (not just soft
Sebastian Gebski
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Go read that book. Seriously. It's badass itself.

Actually it's as much about fitting users' needs as about overall self-development of human being: learning, motivation, improving, focus & many more.
And the best thing is that it's very, very condensed - no bloat, no weaving around, just a strong message (yea, sometimes there's a bit too much of NLP, but it doesn't get that irritating ;>) I totally agree with.

Highly recommended. And make sure you're reading a properly formatted (PDF or mob
Adrian Howard
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lovely book that synthesises a bunch of stuff on motivation, skills acquisition, flow, etc. into a nice product development framework (and unlike a certain popular science writer I could name references the original sources for those who want to dig further ;-)

As an additional bonus Kathy uses the techniques she describes in the book in a delightfully meta way to structure the book itself.

Totally badass.
Patrik Hallberg
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
This is a badass book :) a friend at work recommended it to me!

The formula according to Kathy Sierra =
Improving our chances of making a sustainable bestselling product or service
Make our users badass
Help them actually get better - 1) help them practice right 2) help them get exposure to the right things
Help them keep wanting to - 1) focus on what makes them stop 2) help them with progress + payoffs
Reduce cognitive resource leaks

The rest of my notes reading this book =
Don’t make a better X, make
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Whoa! What a refreshing read this was!

I was familiar with some of the ideas after seeing presentations and reading blog posts from the author, but the book packs the whole thing and adds references for where you can get more.

The book argues that instead of focusing on making your product/tool look good, you should focus in making your users look good. So, you want to make your user a badass: an expert in the things that she wants to do (not an expert in your tool/product).

It starts by explaining
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book would have you believe that it is for people writing software - the typical kind of person that has to wonder what their user is thinking and how to make the user behave the way they want. I think this book goes beyond that. This book is for anyone who has a message that they want to get across. If you are a teacher designing a lesson plan, if you are a speaker designing a presentation, or if you are trying to learn a skill yourself: this book is worth your time. The conce ...more
Adam Fortuna
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'll read anything Kathy Sierra writes. I actually ordered this book when I was out of town, having it delivered to a hotel because I was looking forward to it that much. What I got was a book that inspired me to think differently about how I plan features, UX, and everything else for users.

What stuck with me the most was the concept of putting users into different "buckets" of ability on your product -- beginners, intermediate and advanced. If you aren't moving users up in their abilities on mu
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business-reads
An excellent book for anyone who dreams of being useful to society. what does it mean to be of service, provide a service? is it merely a transaction? is it all just for profit? or do you really want to enrich the lives of others through what you offer? if you want to move beyond just buy and sell to a space where people are improved, delighted and challenged by the things you create and the services you provide, Sierra's book is for you.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was a good book, but it's structured more like an extended comic book than a traditional Business book.

TL;DR: Make your users feel superhuman, and they'll tell all their friends about how awesome you are.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Whether you build apps/websites, write content for your company website, customer support or are involved in writing user manuals, this book is full of insights on how to improve on that. Also, if you coach/teach people new skills that require expertise (photography, software development, musical instrument,...) you will take away lots of new insights from this one. It's a fun and fast read with lots of visual aids.

The main message: don't focus on "brand engagement" strategies, instead help
Jeanne Boyarsky
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technology
When I read a book about software development process, I view it as a successful read if I have a bunch of things to try to make things better. Badass isn't a software process book, but it passes that test with flying colors. I have a page of thoughts. Another test I use for process books is whether I am likely to have different/more ideas if I read it again. I've put on my calendar to read this one again in three months. I can tell now, it will be just as motivational and thought provoking then ...more
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nilibrary
It reads like a witty Power Point presentation, and I'm not opposed to that. Easy to flip through; easy to retain the little sound bytes.

Technically, BADASS is about increasing brand retention by consumers. However, it's much more than that. Sierra touches on things like motivation, goal-oriented learning, and the process of becoming an expert. Officially, she's referring to the user. However, I learned a lot about these things for myself and definitely picked up some tidbits I intend to put int
Rob Weir
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
I really enjoyed “Baddass: Making Users Awesome.” Kathy Sierra here has brought together best practices from a range of disciplines, design, expertise development, word of mouth marketing, human motivation, pedagogy, etc., and created a grand synthesis that shows how to create the kind of “badass” users that make your product shine. Instead of gimmicky approaches based on extrinsic motivations like gamification and viral social media content, Kathy focuses on making the user successful at the la ...more
Jarkko Laine
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you've read Kathy Sierra's earlier work, you'll know to expect something different from your normal business book. I knew this, but I was still surprised by what I found in Badass. The book is much more like Sierra giving a lecture or PowerPoint presentation than a book — and that's a big part of what makes it special.

The ideas in the book are powerful, and I'm planning to revisit it from time to time as I work on my business. That said, a lot of the content stays at a rather high level, so f
Eugene Yokota
May 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Before even finishing the book, I couldn't stop inserting the mini-facts and inspirations I got from this book in any conversation remotely related to usability, branding, running open source community, etc. I wouldn't say it's "Extreme Programming Explained" good, but this book has changed the way I look at things.

There are parts of the book that doesn't flow as well, etc whatever, and honestly I did skim the latter half partially because I've seen a recorded talk that covered the topic. I prob
Andy Thornton
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design, non-fiction
Despite reading a little like an annotated conference presentation, it's a very skimmable read that has some useful guidance on the psychological aspects of getting a user engaged with your product, particularly in relation to cognitive load and compelling content.

People don't want awesome products, they want products to enable their own awesomeness. For instance, you buy a camera as a means to an end; the end being to be a badass photographer. When designing products your real objective therefo
Bryan Fordham
May 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Some good information in here. Unfortunately the format, which starts off as clever and easy to read, eventually becomes too light and distracting. This makes it too easy to just skim past things.

Others have loved the format, so obviously this is a matter of opinion. And some of the information is worth the effort. But I'm not sure I would again buy a book that is mostly clip art.
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I could not put it down! What a treat!
Kenny Parnell
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great book about how people learn and how to help them learn, thus making your users awesome.
Stefan Ritter
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I believe this book should be on every product manager's shelf. The whole book is built around the question of what differentiates products with long term success from ones with short term successes.
The amount of work that has gone into this book is breathtaking - both in terms of information depth and in terms of the didactics by which it is fed to the reader. I started with the Kindle version, but also bought the paperback, so that I can better enjoy the many diagrams and explanatory images.

Anatol Seibel
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Кейти Сьерра (до этого писавшая исключительно самоучители по Java) предлагает способ отстройки от конкурентов в век перенасыщенности предложения - вместо того, чтобы оставить пользователей один на один с мануалом (к сложному техническому устройству или программе), помогите им достичь успехов в той области, для которой они приобретали этот софт/хард. Обучайте, мотивируйте, устраняйте препятствия и истощение когнитивных способностей. После этого сработает word of mouth (автор вводит более крутое п ...more
Keith Nicholas
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is a good read, and has some fantastic explanations of how someone learns and becomes an expert. I finished the book and thought it was really good, but upon reflection I felt it really wasn't that helpful on it's central theme. It did have some good things to be aware of when trying to make users awesome, but you actually won't be making users awesome based on this book. In fact I can see that if you tried leveraging some of the advice in the book you could create awful messes with th ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of those books that by the title, sounds like it could be about UX design or even marketing, but you soon realize it’s actually about learning theory and pedagogy. It reminds me in that respect to McCloud’s Understanding Comics. It’ll answer the question for your of how to make an outstanding product, but be prepared to go along on a ride of deep understanding rather than proscriptive and popular X steps to take. It’s brilliance is that is surveys those topics in a very accessible, dialectic ...more
Szymon Kulec
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I was expecting more.

This book delivers a great content with a very poor "catchy" structure. When reading it, I felt like I was attending a couching/motivational conference that wants me to want my users to become badass. Slide-like pages, filled with pictures and arrows. Searching for the ultimate strategy for making users awesome with lots of clif-hangers. This is a big "no no" for me.

On the other side, the products' framing they propose looks truly inspirational. Guiding users, delivering de
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
A book designed for visual learners. Ironically, the slow and often repetitive build-up of topics on how to help users become badass resulted in the very cognitive leaks that the author devoted significant pages to advocate against. So at the end of about 280+ pages of what appeared to be reworked presentation slides, you might be wondering if it would be better to read it "just-in-time" rather than "just-in-case".
Tomy Jaya
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
The lessons from this book are not only applicable to making our users badass but to make ourselves badass as well. It is a light yet insightful read. Oh! Kathy Sierra's visual story telling approach won't disappoint you either. I'm glad she utilises her expertise in learning methodology to enrich the programming/ software development community. She's a gem indeed.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
As others have mentioned... it’s like a slide presentation in book format. You could easily read this in one sitting. There is good content... like a quick and dirty reference to a lot of topics from credible design / psych books like Habit, Drive, and Flow to name a few. Was it groundbreaking? Nah. But I still enjoyed it.
Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Enjoyed this book. Fun read. Playful illustrations, and some good insights about thinking user-first in product development. Three stars due to a lot of bad science referenced as “definitive research” in user psychology (e.g. ‘power posing’).
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