5 points for setting up a good User Experience project

In order to create a good user experience project, it goes without saying that it is necessary to start from the user’s experience: how will he/she relate to our product? Given a project, every professional involved will inevitably address the problem from his/her own point of view: a bit like the example of the elephant… The story of an elephant A king summoned six men to the palace. The place was dark and they couldn’t see anything. The king said to them: “I have bought this animal from the wild lands of the East. It is called an elephant.” “What is an elephant?” the men asked. The king answered: “You try to describe it.” The man who touched a leg described the elephant as a pillar, the one who touched its tail said that it was similar to a rope, the one who touched its trunk described it as the branch of a tree, and so on. At that point, the king said: “Each of you is right, but only for the part of the elephant that you touched.” The story introduces the theme of user experience, which hardly coincides with the point of view of those who are working on the realization of the same experience: the Visual Designer looks after the aspect of eye-catching graphics, the Instructional Designer will pay attention to the logical and sequential reading of the information, and so on. All these points of view are real, but none of them is the definitive one, that is, the user’s point of view. The game works when everyone involved participates in and contributes to the others’ visions, in the role of an active observer. We present 5 simple key points that can act as a handbook for the development of a user experience project that involves various figures.

  1. Users don’t want to think more than they actually have to
  2. The user is the interpreter of a role that is quite unique and definable, with a rhetorical figure, in “active laziness”. In other words, it is better to give less information and let the user decide whether he/she wants to investigate further or not. If the information is modelled on this basis, a user’s interest and subsequent study are triggered more easily.

  3. Users make mistakes
  4. The circumstance in which everyone who uses our apps/course/web site completes a process or action in the manner in which we have designed it, is impossible. The buzzwords in these cases are anticipate and guide. The tutorial approach to a sequence of operations and feedback confirmation for the action are aspects that should never be overlooked: they increase awareness of being on the right path and minimise the possibility of making the wrong choice.

  5. Users look for a social dimension
  6. Ignoring for a moment the concept of “social” which is present in a contemporary computer context, in the approach to a new technology, whether it is a gas cooker or management software, people look for guidance and share information about necessary operations. It is important to bear this aspect in mind: does our project allow an easy exchange of this information?

  7. Users lose attention
  8. Human beings are biologicaly predisposed to perceive differences and variations. A temperature of 22&degC in an apartment in winter is perceived as warm, in the summer it becomes fresh. Often, it takes very little to undermine the efforts made to capture someone’s attention: it is important to find a balance in an innovative approach, providing gimmicks that capture people’s attention, but that don’t become “visually habit forming.”

  9. Users synthesise visually
  10. The visual/semiotic dimension should never be ignored. Textual information that is paragraphed and grouped in distinct blocks help reading, the use of sections and “vertical rhythm” are fundamental for enabling information to be found quickly. The creation of templates and recursion are at the basis of an efficient model.

Sources and further information Paolo Limoncelli

written by: Paolo Limoncelli , 29 May 2014

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