Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Something Behind User Experience

This article is translated from a Chinese article of Lou Haochuan, who is a member of Teambition. If you can read Chinese, click to read the original article: http://www.36kr.com/p/151574.html

I like the idea in this article, so just want to let more people know. Hope you can get something from it.

“I never waste money to find what market demand is. For example, people need water every day, so there must be a market for water sellers. Market demand is just like human’s instinct. “ This is words from an ordinary merchant, which make me think that if there is something ignored behind User Experience.

Firstly, let’s see where the phrase “User Experience” was from.

User Experience was proposed and promoted in 1990s by Designer Donald Norman, who was the deputy CEO of advanced technology department in Apple Computer Corporation. Apple promoted the idea of User Experience to the world through his products.

Almost no one noticed that how did Donald and Apple find the idea of User Experience.

In fact, we can get some threads from Donald’s studying experience and his books. He got his Bachelor in Electronics Engineering in MIT in 1957, and Electronic bachelor of engineering master's degree in Pennsylvania State University in 1959. His interest was computer, but then he found that studying human by computer was more useful than studying machine. So he decided to study Doctor of Psychology in Pennsylvania State University and in 1962 he got doctor’s degree of mathematics, psychology and philosophy. He wrote two famous books, which are named The Design of Everyday Things and Emotional Design.

We can see that User Experience is from the study of user’s psychology. So we may think that to create the best User Experience, we should focus more on users’ psychology behind user experience, but not the methodology of user experience.
User experience designs we are using today are all based on certain user’s instinct. What I mean user experience here is the whole experience of products, including their design, manufacture, produce, marketing, after-sale and tech support etc.
I am trying to list 8 instincts here. I think products manufacturing, designing and marketing are all in need of them.

1.       People tend to self-learn: like a curious baby.
Almost all users have the ability to learn. For example, an app named appflow from Hungary attracts its users all the time. People can also gain joy of self-learning when they enjoy the tour of this experiencing this App. When people step into the world of this app, they would say: how does it do this amazing work?
Introduce a Mobile game named joy-stacker. Its stage design is like this: what you learn from last stage can be used in next stage. And last stage is more difficult than next stage. People would never get bored and keep self-learning all the time.
This spirit gets people back to the young days when they were curious about everything.
A good product can bring people feeling of approval, and even more pride.

2.       People are likely to grab information, but not wholly understand it: Not Exit = Exit”
There was a bad case called Useless Sign.

This is a fire door of a hotel, which can not be opened in a fire disaster. In order to warn people that this door is not an exit to escape, owner of the hotel designed two different signs on the door, which were NOT AN EXIT and FIRE DOOR KEEP CLOSED.

According to the survey, people would easily understand the first one as EXIT, so they will open it. While the second one works, though it has so many words. Why? Because there’s a system in people’s mind to quickly grab information. When they don’t have enough time to read words, they will just grab some keywords. This is human’s instinct.

So NOT AN EXIT is the same with EXIT in the minds of people in a fire disaster. This human instinct has been widely used in marketing skills. However, many of them become headline writers. I’d like to notice that when you write an attract headline, there must be something valuable in it. Otherwise, it may bring bad results.

3.       People hate wasting time: I have something more important to do.

Products of Apple are easily learnt for just a green hand.

People always emphasize that users just need to follow less than 2 steps to get what they want on a website.

People love one-click products.

You can not blame the laziness of your users. In my opinion, users just have something more important to do. For example, my girlfriend don’t talk to me since last week, I must fix these damn bugs on my site.
So I will put those things like learning how to use my new computer etc in the second place. I hope those things can be done as easily as possible, because I don’t want to waste my time on them.

I am not saying, the simpler, the better. Sometimes, people may get bored when the process is too simple. For instance, The Balancing Siphon Coffee Maker from Belgium is very complicated, which appeals the demand of people. They can fully enjoy the process of making coffee. But this coffee maker is not like the products we are talking about here. It’s an art craft.

4.       People prefer robot with human’s mind: Siri, be a human.

Human-computer interaction is a big topic, which involves computer science, psychology, sociology etc.

Siri has become popular and popular. On one hand, people begin to know the dullness of robot; on the other hand, Siri becomes more and more humanlike. She can talk to you with not just “hello” “Good morning’’

There are so many electronic products surrounding people now. However, people need them to be more humanlike, such as talking with emotion, using oral English but not official words, thinking logically and look like human.

Besides UI design, we should give users something more. Customers can be cuter when answering questions from users; when users enter into your products, there must be guide for them, not just long instruction booklet.

So when designing your products, you should talk to your users, tell them how to do next. This is the real humanization we are talking about.

5.       People pursue for freedom, and hate to be forced to do anything.

During our schooling time, everyone was forced to do something we didn’t like by teachers. This is really bad memories for almost everyone. This is one of human instinct. Human pursue for freedom.

Among all kinds of internet products, there are a lot of problems, such as sophisticated CRM system. Staffs often blame it for its uselessness. So they will look for other CRM system or just use EXCEL to manage their data.

This bad CRM system became a burden for staffs. And for company, they will just get a lot of false data.

6.       Never quit the sense of reality: ipad guitar is really stupid.

Some apps want to replace the real ones in reality, such as ipad guitar. It may be creative, but it ruins the aesthetic perception of playing guitar. I really don’t think using finger to touch ipad and getting a piece of music is an amazing experience.
SNS sites always make the weak relations be the main line. Actually it may not work. No matter in Facebook or RenRen, people will feel much more comfortable among friends.

Authentic bring people aesthetic perception and sense of security. Beautiful things are good to see, and safe products are good to use.

7.       People hate awkwardness: don’t make me shame!

No matter western culture or eastern culture, people all over the world hate awkwardness.

In most cases, people prefer talking to friends to speaking with strangers; they don’t like to be boring when waiting for buses; they fear to stand or speak in a lecture of others.

Because they don’t like the word embarrassment, so we should let them “safely” scan others tweets, vote privately and have something to do when they are waiting for buses.

Of course, it may have bad effect. People may become more and more introvert. This question needs more exploring.

8.       Flush pollutions out: we need the Nature, City and Universe.

Beautiful things are all accepted by all ages. That’s why UI design is valuable.
Visual pollution refers to illogical complication, monotony, weirdness etc. But where can we find those unpolluted scenery?

Three places: The Nature, City and Universe.

In the Nature, you can find real and magnificent scene. In the City, you can find logical design. In the Universe, you can find amazing and interesting pictures.
Design is a great job.

My thinking
We want to be strong, so we need to think that how do the strong ones think
when they started. We shouldn't just go after them and learn something superficial.
Apple can create new things, but there’s not a company called Orange creating great works.

Steven Jobs never believe market research. In my opinion, that’s right. What is marketing? Marketing demand is an analytic statistics about what people are thinking about. To get this conclusion, you should let people tell you what they are thinking about. Under this condition, you may lose your own thinking about people’s instinct. You will not know what people really like and dislike.

We make products for human beings. To some degree, the one who know human being the best is human beings ourselves. We may have no authority on some area of expertise, but we know what ourselves really want.

So let’s go back to the very beginning of this article.

Is there something ignored behind User Experience?

For me, there is.

I am just trying to give some suggestions here, and there must be more human instinct out there waiting for us to explore. People are interesting creature. And when we embed humanized factors into our products, they will become interesting creatures, too. Users will fall in love with them just like loving their girlfriends or boyfriends.

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