In designing a good user experience there are some obvious and not so obvious things to consider. Physical, audio or visual feedback is important. It is human nature to like to be rewarded for our actions. Ideally the feedback also provides a hint of what is ahead. Audio, in particular is often not considered and can be a powerful cue or reward.
Conventions are important. Many standards have evolved and there is an expectation that should be respected unless there is a very good reason not to. The location of the search box, the use of color for links and the expectation that buttons lead to actions are a few of the obvious ones.
Respecting user’s time is essential. A fraction of a second of delay matters. The respect translates in many ways but boils down to meeting or exceeding expectations with perceived simplicity, clear paths and the right balance of user versus system control. Let the computer do the work where it makes sense to do so, but always let the user feel in control. There is a fine line between guiding a user through an experience – making it easy and logical for them, versus overwhelming them with automation and choices.
In the consumer world we value features but in user experience they have a cost in terms of distraction and complexity. Far better to focus on the core experience and how to make it intuitive and satisfying than to focus on an expanded feature list. Perceived simplicity can be achieved by grouping like-elements together . Google analytics does a particularly good job of this. Transferring the functionality to another device or platform is another technique for achieving perceived simplicity. Decide where functionality should logically be located (device, desktop, web) and distribute that functionality to the right platform.
10 Usability Basics to Consider Before Designing the UX from Usability
For next week’s class, design a physical object that allows a user to count. The target audience is someone who wants to keep a numeric record of something and have a physical reminder of their progress to display for themselves and others on their desk or workspace. The object should allow the user to easily record single increments of change (either counting forward toward a target or backwards from it). Use personnas include
- Rachel lives for vacation. She is going to Hawaii this year and can’t wait. She is leaving in 100 days and wants to count down toward her vacation. Rachel thinks having a constant reminder of her progress toward vacation will help her get through the tedium of her job.
- John’s New Year’s resolution is to scale back on his coffee consumption. At the end of last semester he was drinking as many as 30 cups a week. Rather than going cold turkey, John wants to scale back. He is allowing himself 10 cups a week in 2013 and wants an easy way to keep track of his coffee consumption. He thinks displaying the weekly tally will help shame him into sticking to his resolution and force him to take it seriously.
Bring a prototype or sketches of your counter to class. Post images, sketches or video to your blog.