I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Susan Weinschenk when speaking at the same conference in 2011. If you haven’t seen some of the material flowing from her desk recently, I’d urge you to check out an article on the psychology of UX Design and a cool little video about the ROI of UX. There are a few things I’d like to emphasize and a few things that I’d respectfully append.
- Calculate the ROI: Yes, at times it seems like motherhood and apple pie that well-conceived Usability/Human Factors plans and resources are money well-spent, but executives think in dollars and yen. To approve the next project, they must clearly see the bottom line of this project and then whallah! They’ll see the penny-wise-ness of your User Experience (UX) project and how “pleasing the customer” equals big bucks in the end. A Change Request at my last job cost $225,000, and it didn’t get approved until we provided proof that the corporation should see $2.5M in addition revenue by avoiding novice task incompetion.
- Cluster Just Enough Info: Amongst the top three reasons customers come to us for redesigns is something I call “information spray fire”. Marketeers want to show everything their competitors have plus the added bonus of the kitchen sink, but haven’t stopped to consider what THEIR customers’ goal(s) are and how to organize it into simple groupings. Keep It Simple [Sir] !
- Humans Make Errors: Nearly every UX to-do list includes “Undo”, Back”, “Home”, etc. If you give the user a parachute, there will always be a safe landing. If you don’t, the flight might go OK but eventually they’ll crash and burn.
- Understand the Elephant: Although her introductory analogy of feeling the same elephant is fantastic, I’d go one further: intentionally approach the elephant from other directions with the other people. If the selected processor is only capable of presses and not swipes or animations, the visual designer needs to know that. If the persona’s goal is sleek simplicity, the coder needs to know the desired philosophy for when the designer didn’t fully specify the interface. All team members must communicate, and that starts with approaching the solution from all perspectives together. An interesting read along those lines: The relationship between Design and User Experience
- Not All Users Have The Same Goal: I suspect Susan would agree with that simple premise. Users have different goals. But her article and others that I have read (e.g. http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/top-5-rules-for-creating-user-friendly-mobile-apps-015841.php) assume the user wants “responsiveness” and a quick, intuitive design. Yes, that’s true for the vast majority of the population, but there are demographics and cultures globally that WANT a technological challenge so they may feel at the end that they’ve surmounted the Mount Everest of UX’s. I’m not saying that should typically be your goal; I’m only saying not to presume. Discovering and designing your persona is the first step after cleaning the white board.
- People Like Info & Flashiness: I whole-heartedly agree, and I haven’t found a good 30,000 foot description of that for the team other than nebulous adjectives. I recently saw an article accurately describe UX as the “… a [product’s] user experience is a holistic exchange of a hard to measure intellectual currency that drives satisfaction levels within a relationship.” (source: http://blogs.computerworld.com/20266/changewave_apple_amazons_flickering_fire_and_user_experiences ). Dr. W’s article does a good job of breaking down related elements, but I’d add this over-arching definition to clearly communicate that the boundaries are, unfortunately, undefined and constantly changing.