You’re not hiring a designer who goes off into a corner to magically create perfect solutions like she can read your mind. You are hiring someone who can work with a team to identify the right problems, create the best solutions, and test the real-world effectiveness of those choices. So, work on a design exercise with the candidate and you will learn much more about her abilities.
Good content strategy is a great tool for communicating with an intentional tone. What’s the product’s voice? If the design were a person, how should it be perceived? Friend? Teacher? Trusted advisor? Sham-wow spokesperson? What kind of reaction could this voice elicit when someone is experiencing the product in the worst case scenario? Let’s be honest about priorities. The definition of priority is “a thing that is regarded as more important than another.” By prioritizing one thing, we are inherently deprioritizing something else, do I know what I’m deprioritizing? Eric Meyer says when you call something an edge case, you’re really just defining the limits of what you care about; he calls them stress cases. (He would also like to give credit for paraphrasing Evan Henſleigh.) In December Facebook’s Year in Review product suggested Eric should relive a “great” year, resurfacing a post about his daughter’s death. We invited him to come speak to us candidly about his experiences. Generously, he told us the reason we don’t see planes falling from the sky is because there’s 60 years of air crash data to draw on when designing planes.
It’s easy for designers to be aware of our opinions and design interactions that support the outcomes we want. Being aware of how non-choices affect an experience is much more challenging. Emotions spread. Humans mirror. If a people perceive an interface as expressing an emotion, they are likely to also feel that emotion. Whether designers intend to or not, we’re building relationships. Imagine the relationship you might have with a piece of government software as if it were a person. How do we act and feel in relationships? Things can escalate quickly. An interaction could be just the latest in a series of slights, it’s like the app just left a wet towel on the floor or forgot to take out the trash. You’re screaming in your head “I can’t believe it’s doing this to me!” Maybe it’s preventing you from doing something really important, like renewing your license. This has a real effect on our bodies. A universal trigger for anger is a sense of endangerment, which can be signaled not just with physical threat, but more often symbolic threats: being treated unjustly, or being insulted and demeaned. This creates an energy surge in our body which lasts several minutes, but the effects of which can last much longer.