Thanks to my friend Jacob Gube, I had the pleasure to have my latest blog post published on Six Revisions: Why It’s So Hard to Make Usability Sexy
I really think that to become a better software designer (even if “UX Designer” – or something fancy like that – is not your job description) everything starts from a simple notion: well-designed software is considerate and helpful.
Just think about it: software exists to help us humans, lifting from us the weight of repetitive or computationally expensive tasks; and, usually, even badly-designed software is capable of carrying out complex tasks, and perform extremely difficult operations in small time. So, “helpful” usually isn’t a problem.
But think about “considerate”. Just try to imagine the software you use the most during your daily routine as a human assistant. How would you describe him (or her), if you were asked about his personality? Would you picture him as a well-behaved, considerate and smart young man, or words like “dumb, presumptuous and bipolar dumb-ass” would come to mind?
You will find that linking human traits with inanimate things is something very easy to do when you interact with them: and well, interaction is the essence of software.
So it’s clear: the quality of user experience is determined by software’s “personality” too. How much? It depends on the user and on the interactions required by the software (how many times it requires your attention, for how long you use it, how are its functions important for your goals…). Surely, working with an insolent and witty software doesn’t make you happy or productive: it frustrates you. And user’s frustration is the worst enemy of good software design.
Hence, this is the best advice anyone who cares about user experience in software design can give to his fellows designers, software architects, engineers or whatever:
Give your software the gift of a considerate, helpful and smart personality.
UX surely is a trending topic these days. At least in the tech and IT community it is. And this is great! It was about time that we designers and programmers understood how Paleolithic most of our software really is, when it comes to user experience.
Apply UX outside of tech
The more I dive into different UX approaches, understanding their basics and methods and grasping the importance of putting the user at the center of design, the more I wonder: wouldn’t be splendid if the same care and attention to user experience was applied to schools, to hospitals, to models and forms that we have to fill in our over-complex society? Wouldn’t be great to apply user research, personas, design refining and a lean process to redefine the way we live society?
These questions have really opened my eyes, and I think about them every time some process (policies and laws are very often a live manifesto of how our life can be designed for complication) puzzles me with its unnecessary over-complexity. I bet it’s not uncommon for you too to think “is this procedure really necessary?” in your modern life. Just think about the tons of duplicate data you have to enter in forms, or about the way school still doesn’t bring the best out of children.
The dawn of UX for Everyday Life
Although many professionals think of UX as a science which is already mature, I’m convinced that what we are seeing in IT it is just the dawn of User Experience Design, being the Tech world only one of the first fields of its application.
I really hope to be able to see UX principles (most importantly user research, which really is the foundation of every effort to make users’ life easier) applied to every aspect of our life, starting from laws and policies, then down to school, healthcare and to every matter concerning with our most essential needs as humans.
We have to stress the importance of UX again and again, bringing it outside our fields of expertise, talking with friends and colleagues, and creating a new culture that puts users (people) at the center of every process we design.
We can do this, we can start a real UX Movement for Everyday Life.