Designing App Experience

Once I received this brief for the creation of a mobile app:

Giving a wonderful experience through a superb design.
Thank you,

But an experience is by definition always different and the highest level of design is the invisible design.

Let’s start from the experience.

A king ordered his minister: gather the nobles of our kingdom, I want to give an elephant to each of them.The minister executed the order and the king went to a dark room, where the nobles were gathered. They hadn’t never seen an elephant and the king wanted to know what they’d say.

The nobles came from the four poles of his immense kingdom and each one approached the elephant coming from a different direction. One noble touching a leg said: “The elephant looks like a tree”. One noble touching a tusk said: “The elephant looks like a stick”. One noble touching the trunk said: “The elephant looks like a snake”. One noble touching the belly said: “The elephant looks like a wall”.

The king looked at them amused and said: it’s undisputed that an elephant looks like only to an elephant. Your perception of reality is based on the place of origin, on education, on experiences, on your essence and on your nature.

—one version of the ancien tale The king, the blind men and the elephant

Each of us is different and unique. An experience by definition can not be designed: it would be like wanting to live the life of another. When we design a mobile app, we must do an approximation that can be packaged and delivered to the user; we must make sure that the message is as clear as possible and it can not be misunderstood.

People use apps most of the time in motion: they are probably doing something else. This is the reason why we must aim for the highest simplicity. Marissa Mayer, former CEO Yahoo, had created a design rule: it is called two tap rule, if you are two steps away from reaching anything you want to get then you need to simplify.

The user must be attracted by a strong storytelling. He must know that for going from A to B the proposed solution is the only possible, because is the easiest, and there is no other way to do that.

Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your app to work the same way as all the other apps they already know.
Jakob’s Law

They live new experiences suspiciously just because they are not already common. The challenge we have to face designing the User Experience (UX) is to make the digital world looks like the real world in which our ancestors evolved.

And finally, we can not consider an app as a fixed product over time: UX can never be enclosed within finite parameters but it must follow the innovations and the digital initiatives in a continuous loop.

And coming to design.

Designing is easy when you know how to do it. Everything becomes simple when you know how to proceed to solve the problem. However — as Bruno Munari himself says — there is no complete and definitive methodology.

Currently a methodology focused on Design Thinking allows us to study case by case a changing scenario, in order to find a new proposal in every different situation. The sequence of technological innovations makes impossible to outline a strategy that is valid for all long-term users. The human-centered design must work on a concept of innovation not only based to technology but also on the evolution of social behavior: design today must necessarily adapt itself to the continuous needs that arise.

Design must tell a visual story, a narration that intertwines with the backbone of the structure. Massimo Vignelli describes the steps of the project to better understand the nature of the project and to find the most appropriate direction for the development of a new design, similar steps to those of a traditional writer: studying the subject (semantics), developing a narrative arc (syntactics), finding the wires to weave the content design that have an impact on the user (pragmatics).

Clarity of intent will translate in to clarity of result and that is of paramount importance in design.

The goal of the design is therefore to focus on the characteristics and needs of users, to make the experience more fluid, increase the time spent in the app and the quality of the interactions with the contents, to achieve the objectives set in the strategic identification phase, with a design that is as invisible as possible.

Hi Luigi, I sent it.
You are welcome,

You can find the Italian version of this article in the Magazine 
Cultura del Design 2018.

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Marco Lorio

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