The design community keeps making a lot of noise about designing for people/users/customers. However, while this notion is well intentioned and even conceptually correct, I find much of it boils down to empty rhetoric. What exactly are we doing? More user research? More usability testing? Certainly these are valid approaches to finding out about people’s needs, but they’re only a small part of an optimal solution. Are we using hollow tasks and tools like personas and scenarios? Those approaches typically take design farther away from the people for whom we are designing products rather than closer. How about focusing on usability and the user experience? That gets at only part of the issue and tends to come from the perspective of the product—as opposed to the more universal needs and desires of actual people.
No. The methods most UX professionals typically use today are, at best, incomplete and, at worst, without any meaningful focus. There is not a successful, established approach and framework for closely linking the real-world needs and desires of our potential customers into the DNA of product strategy and development. Sure, there are various examples of the integration of users’ needs and product strategy being successfully accomplished in some cases, but they are more the outcome of clear vision and talented design than an intentional, strategic product architecture that really accommodates people’s needs. Read More
Part One of this series, Applied Empathy, introduced a design framework for meeting human needs and desires and defined five States of Being that represent the different degrees to which products and experiences affect and motivate people in their lives. Part Two explained the three Dimensions of Human Behavior and outlined a variety of specific needs and desires for which we can intentionally design products. This third and final part of the series shows how this design framework maps to a variety of well-known products and experiences and illustrates how this framework can be put to practical use.
Mapping the Framework to Digital Products
It is no accident that user experience and experience design originated with and matured from software development: It is only through truly digital products and experiences that we can satisfy all three Dimensions of Human Behavior, both deeply and simultaneously. Software has a unique ability to incorporate both analytical and emotional hooks into virtually any physical activity, in a way that is typically difficult—and often even impossible—in the analog world. It helps account for both the tremendous financial success and the cultural growth of computing lifestyles since the mainstreaming of the personal computer, which was greatly accelerated by the invention and subsequent ubiquity of the Internet. Digital technology has unlocked the potential of this intriguing triangulation of the Analytical, Emotional, and Physical—in the human condition, never before satisfied so fully—which explains why the most celebrated and successful products in recent years tend to skew toward the digital realm. For this reason, I will use two popular digital products as mapping examples. Read More
Personal computing is in an awkward adolescence right now. On one hand, we are rapidly moving into ubiquitous computing environments that let people constantly interact with the omnipresent network; on the other, the devices and interfaces we are using to enter these new frontiers provide woefully inadequate user experiences. Let’s take a look at one of the key technologies that will take mobile user experiences to the next level: holography.
Holography and the State of Input
The primary reason why the BlackBerry® became such an enormous success is its miniature QWERTY keyboard, which lets people rapidly enter information and, in the process, made easy-email-while-on-the-run a reality. Earlier devices such as cell phones and Palm® PDAs provided a substandard means of communicating with a computing system, but the BlackBerry took the well-established and long-practiced QWERTY keyboard interface and employed it in a practical and portable form. This allowed people to engage in a more natural human/computer interaction. Read More