Some Thoughts On UX

This morning, I left my home and started driving to my destination. On the road, there were different types of cars, as you can probably imagine. Yet, fundamentally, all of these automobiles do the same thing, they get a person or a group of people from point A to point B. Even though there is a foundational similarity between the use of automobiles, there is an astonishing amount of variability in the offerings that different brands provide.

Why is there so much variability? People have different needs and people have different constraints. Thus, products must fit the needs of the user to properly help them carry out whatever their objective might be. In this case, getting from point A to point B and a great example of UX. In the end it is about helping people get to their objectives in the most simple and effective manner. Where it gets tricky, is understanding what the real needs of people are, and understanding their needs on multiple levels, beyond functionality and moving into the realm of emotional needs and foundational motivations of a person interacting with a product or service. All this in service of creating solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constraints.

Enjoyable, Useful, Easy, & Accessible

VP of Product Design at Facebook, Julie Zhuo describes ‘Good Design’ as “The creation of an experience that’s enjoyable, useful, easy and accessible — but it’s difficult to add functionality without increasing complexity.”

That seems like a great way of thinking about good design, or a good experience. Although, it is not enough to know this intellectually, it is not enough to create an experience thinking “Okay I am going to make this more enjoyable and more useful and easier and more accessible”.

The Layers: From Knowledge, To Insight, To Expression

In order to get to Julie Zhou’s definition of ‘Good Design’ there are questions that you must ask and answer on several different layers.

There are some principles that architect a framework, that can act as a guide through the process of creating a user experience that resonates with the intended audience.

1. Alignment Of Mission & Vision: What is the highest level objective the company/product/service is seeking to fulfill and what is the overarching strategy that is being employed?

2. User Research: what are the motivations, casualties, anxieties, emotional and mental models, values, priorities, preferences, and inner conflicts of the intended audience?

3. Functionality & Constraints: What are the table stakes features and information that satisfy all levels of needs?

4. Tactile: How does the interaction between experience and user fit into the needs of all levels?

5. Flow & Harmony: How do all the pieces fit together so that the experience is seamless?

6. Beauty From Truth: What will be considered aesthetically pleasing to users based upon the motivations and emotions that they displayed in user research and how can it be congruent with your values as company?

Through this process and method of questioning we can reach Julie Zhou’s ‘Good Design’ by creating“valuable: you’re solving a real problem for people b) easy to use: people find it understandable, accessible and fast c) well-crafted: the entire experience feels designed with thought and care.” products.