I belong to the “User Experience” group on LinkedIn and recently someone posed the challenge; “Can you use ONE WORD to describe the biggest challenge in UX ?” Over a thousand people responded and there were a broad range of responses: “understanding,” “balance,” “diplomacy,” “speed,” “preconception,” “translation,” “devices,” “consistency,” “assumptions,” “accessibility,” yadda yadda yadda. The one word that stopped everyone in their tracks and the one that by far got the most “likes” was “Consensus!”
It seems like many of us involved in UX development have seen what happens when the “committee” raises its heavy hairy hand. It sucks. And many of us have seen a thoughtful interface get trampled over by some ill conceived “site map” that was put together by a committee of people never faced with the task. Or maybe the just haven’t considered the task from the right vantage point.
Committees and marketing teams would do well to ramp up on some of the psychology involved in a solid UX design solution. This stuff may seem too woo woo for some in marketing to grasp but it has been the foundation of effective communication art for a long time. Much of the criteria that makes a great web site is the same that makes a great manuscript illumination from the 15th century and that is why so many right brained “artist types” “get it,” and so many left brained marketing people don’t. Obviously I am somewhat biased.
I am not saying that everyone in marketing has a ham fist when it comes to UX design and I am not saying that graphic designers should be left to their own devices. People need to work together and do what they are good at. Imagine what would have happened if Steve Jobs would have let the programmers design the mac UX… there wouldn’t be a mac. There would just be PC. I would be a gardener or the painter I always wanted to be but I know in my heart I wouldn’t be working in front of a computer. A beautiful UX changed my life… and the world, but it didn’t just happen by marketing getting their heads together.
A well orchestrated production plan needs to also include a testing phase where you can get the GUI in front of actual human beings and observe them interacting with the product. You also need a diverse variety of people within your target audience. These days there are also tools available that will produce a comprehensive mock up so that the testing happens before the actual product is developed. That can save a ton of cash for big projects where a positive UX and ROI is critical.
These are pretty good articles I think that outline some of the important aspects of UX design. People that study visual communication and art get most of this pretty early in their education. Again I don’t mean to pick on marketing it’s just that artists are better equipped by nature to understand it I think.
The Psychologist’s View of UX Design
Old Wine in New Bottles and New Wine in Old Bottles
This is a pretty good article that outlines some of the important aspects of UX design. People that study visual communication and art get most of this pretty early in their education. Again I don’t mean to pick on marketing its just that artist are better equipped by nature to understand it I think.