Opera%on Successful, Pa%ent Dead So=ware development teams o=en focus on just the func%onality and claim victory when the so=ware does what it claims to do. User experience is o=en forgoDen or else patched on top of the func%onality as an “add-‐on”. This is akin to a doctor saying, the opera%on is successful but the pa%ent is dead. If Func%onality is King, Experience is Queen !
Basic UI Philosophy UI is a map that helps you understand the territory. The map, however, is not the territory. UI is not the real func%onality. Diﬀerently put, UI is just a window to the actual func%onality. The key insight is that the window impacts your percep%on of the actual world. The art of UI lies in choosing a window that portrays the actual func%onality in its fullest eﬀect.
Observe the UI of Everyday Things These pictures reveal something interes%ng about UX design from the everyday world. Users make use of things in unexpected ways because the design ‘aﬀords’ those unexpected usages. This is called “aﬀordance” in design lingo. Examples: Many of us hang coats on a ﬁre hydrant. Washing machines are used to make Lassi in Punjab. Who hasn’t seen clothes hanging on a gym equipment?
Observe the design Here is something we have used in our daily lives : A Bicycle. Let us try to answer a few ques%ons now about its design: a. What is the ideal user experience for a bicycle? b. Is this design good? c. What design improvements would you make to improve it? Think for some%me before proceeding.
Think About The User and The Usage Those were trick ques%ons ! If you tried to come up with a beDer design without asking for more informa%on, you are making a mistake. Some key ques%ons you have to ask before aDemp%ng to redesign: 1. Who is going to use the cycle? Kids? Men? Women? Athletes? 2. What kind of cycle is it? Mountain bike, City bike, Casual bike? Remember, UI/UX decisions should evolve from the user and the usage.
More Daily Examples There are cars where the window controls are closer to the gear box. Why do you think the designers chose to put the controls there? Maybe because if you put them in the center, the passenger can also control it? Now, what are the downsides of that choice? The interface and the object are separated and can cause confusion. This is another classic. We have all experienced this one. There are 8 switches. Which one turns on the fan? We can learn this only through trial and error. This approach may not be feasible in mission cri%cal applica%ons. How do you solve this? Using labels? Diagrams? Placing the UI close to the object?
Constraints Drive Design Decisions Design should take constraints into considera%on. In a Formula 1 car, the driver is zooming at crazy speeds and cannot take his hands oﬀ the wheel. Hence controls, mostly buDons and ﬂip switches, are within the reach of the thumb. Here is an example from the so=ware world. If the bandwidth of the users is poor, you cannot aﬀord to have super-‐ rich graphics in your design. You are forced to think of simpler alterna%ves.
Simplicity : The Nirvana State As the complexity of the system grows, so does the complexity of the UI. The challenge for the designer is to keep the UI simple even when the system’s complexity soars. Google homepage is a great example for brilliant simplis%c design which masks the underlying complexity of the system. Click wheel of the iPod is another example that comes to mind. The Goal UI Complexity < System Complexity
Speak in the User’s Language We have all been subjected to this. Many a %mes, messages are machine readable, not human readable. Feedback for user ac%ons should be friendly, %mely and ac%onable.
Be Tolerant to Errors To Err is Human. System designers should keep this in mind and protect users in case of a failure.
Million Dollar Ques%on Are designers born or made?