The Story of UX as Told by Metaphor

When it comes to design, UX is no longer an added value. It’s a requirement. Clients expect good user experiences. Users demand them.

It can be difficult to articulate a user experience before it becomes a tangible thing—especially to clients. Yes, there are dozens of design thinking exercises and tools to help facilitate conversations and visualize concepts (and these are extremely important), but details can still get lost in transition throughout a project.

A story takes a listener through an event (or a series of events) from start to finish. The design process is a story, and one of the best ways to tell this story is through metaphor.

A metaphor takes something that is intangible — an experience — and makes it tactile. It also gives project stakeholders an entry point to contribute. If you’re designing an e-commerce experience to sell furniture, you might invoke the metaphor of the perfect Facebook page: people buy furniture to reflect their aspirations and taste to both themselves and their social circle. Many people use Facebook the same way. By helping the client understand how buying furniture is like picking and choosing what people post on their Facebook page, you can help the stakeholder think and talk about the psychology involved in a more nuanced way.

Relating your process or deliverable to something your client is already familiar with will help him or her understand the full design story and uncover details that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Take a Bite is a series written by Heather that delivers bite-sized ramblings about all things UX, design and the like.

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