Category: Theory

Musings on UX theory and philosophy.

Why details and knowing your users matters

Why details and knowing your users matters

I’m active on a Facebook group for UX/UI Design Feedback. In all fairness it is a UX and UI feedback group and not a straight UX feedback group. Still most of the people posting their mock-ups and projects ask how those project can be improved from a UX standpoint and how they can be made more usable, but they only post images or site links and no information about their users. So I came up with this analogy that I think demonstrates pretty well why knowing who your users are and how they might use something is important.

If I were to post an image of a map with a blue line going between two points and ask you if it is a good route to take, what would you tell me?

Can you tell me if it is a good route if you don’t know my method of travel? That blue line could pass right through a mountain range with no roads, which would be fine if I was in a plane, but impossible if I was in a compact car.

What if you don’t know my time frame and when I need to reach my destination? If I need to get there by a certain time, that could be a horrible route, but it could be perfectly fine if I want a scenic route with lots of things to explore along the way.

What about who is travelling? Could that route be just fine for me as a single adult traveler, but not so great for a family with small children in the car? What if instead of small children there are older people with disabilities in the car with me? Or both? Do we have pets travelling with us?

Do you know our budget? Are we camping to save money and if so are there places on the route to do it? If we aren’t camping and it’s a long route are there hotels along the route and do we have enough money to stay at that many hotels? Am I choosy about my lodging, will any roadside motel or inn work or do I prefer to only stay in 4 star hotels?

Assuming that you can’t read my mind, unless you just get lucky, there is no way you can tell me if that blue line is a good route for me or not. You might be able to tell me if it’s a dangerous route and be able to suggest a less dangerous route. That is different than telling me it’s a good route though and it’s very different than it being the best route for my needs.

Whether you are giving somebody feedback or designing something yourself, you have to have these kinds of details available, you have to understand the way a user is going to use what you are designing.

Positive experiences are the key to happiness

Positive experiences are the key to happiness

People remember feelings more than they remember details. When you look back and think of happy times, chances are you’ll think of events first. Often you can remember hardly anything about those events other than it was a good event and thinking of it makes you happy. If you design an app, event, website, or a product in a way that it produces a pleasant experience, then people will remember that positive experience.

Ever go to a restaurant where the food was just OK, but they treated you like family, and the customer service was superb? More than likely you later praised the restaurant and returned despite there being better tasting options. The opposite is also true, great food can be ruined by poor service and rude employees.

In technology you will often see two competing products. One is chock full of features and very powerful. The other is more limited, but the things it does do it does very well. If you’ve ever owned the more powerful device and asked somebody why they like the other, you’ll hear answers like, “It just works,” or “I like how easy it is to use.” If you can combine something that works well and is easy to use, it’s a winning combination.

Design positive experiences and people will respond positively. That should be the primary goal of every project,