Moving from nice looking design to user centric experiences
With the smell of burning gun, the tube slowed down to another London Underground Station. I took my eyes away from the notebook to look around.
A fellow passenger, sitting next to me was trying to get my attention. Unusual, as all passengers are usually just sit and stare at their smart phones or drown in a daydream with plugged earphones.
“Hey mate, do you design Apps?”
Odd choice of a question to begin with. Maybe, he has seen the wire-frames (hand drawn sketches for my next project) through the transparent file in my hands and guesses what I’m doing.
He introduced himself with a brief description. Originally an artist, who had worked for advertising agencies, he had later become a self-taught graphic designer. He was having a hard time figuring-out designing for apps and asked;
“So… What’s really is this UX thingy?”
His tone is curious and I answered instantly;
“So, you know, UX is not just about designing apps or websites. User experience covers all the aspects of all end-users’ interaction with a product or service. And then in UX design, we are trying to enhance the user satisfaction with the product and or service by improving the usability, accessibility, and etc. UI is …”
He was listening intently, but just at that moment we were disturbed by the famous underground announcement;
“Please, mind the gap …”
Even though we prefer to use one thinking hat at a time, crafting great UX requires thinking both analytically and creatively at the same time
Earlier that day, I was at Google Campus London (now it’s Campus London) where we were given an opportunity to pitch our digital product designs and get feedback from industry experts. Thus, the subject was already on my mind. Even before the announcement ends, I realized, that I have to put that explanation in a fairly simple and straightforward way.
I took out my notebook and started sketching.
“Ok, for starters, let’s look at this in this way…” I showed the sketch.
“Our end user uses a product — and or service, to accomplish some goal. As you can see, the UI acts as the user-facing layer of the product. A common misconception is when people think that UI is the UX. It’s not, UX is not just UI. Even if the user interface looks great and usable, if users can’t accomplish their goals at the end, then the user experience needs work.”
“So, what about business goals?” He asked.
“Aha, good question!” I replied;
“As an entry point, let’s replace the user with a business owner and the user goals with business goals in this same diagram. So, now the owner needs to achieve his business goals through the same product. Then you can see how the owner’s experience would be. Depending on the product, there could be a UI for the owner as well.”
“So, when you are talking about the UX of a specific product — and or service, you have to consider all the aspects of all the end-users’ interactions with it.”
Working with what you have
“Mm… Hmm, I see. But what’s wrong with me?” he asked.
“Of course, there is an UX design process and there is a range of techniques that you can master. But before stepping into that, you can use something you already have.”
“Analytical thinking and creative thinking.”
“Since you have been an artist for years, you already use your creative thinking hat most of the time. Just think about what you do when you get a design brief for a poster, you think about the campaign, colors, target audience, etc right? you analyze the problem, before going into the design process.”
“So, the same applies here. Just have to do little more work when doing the research. Practice blending both analytical thinking and creative thinking when doing UX design. Don’t get confused these two thinking hats with the two hemispheres of the brain, the myth of the creative-right vs analytical-left brain has already debunked.”
It had become a longer conversation than expected. The tube was now less crowded, we were moving away from the Central London and at the next station, I switched to the London Overground.
Do you agree with my explanation? Or can you perhaps propose simpler way to explain UX to a novice? Eager to hear what you think.