user experience design



In producing any form of media - whether it’s a digital iOS app or an analog sandwich board - you need to be able to obtain human attention and retain it for a period of time in order for it be successful. And, with that attention, you can likely motivate someone (a "user") to take some form of action - resulting in a user experience (UX). 

It sounds simple enough on the surface, but in reality, designing user experiences is difficult. Just putting a sandwich board on the sidewalk does not guarantee an experience will happen - let alone result in a positive experience. Human behavior is idiosyncratic. We’re a fickle species. 

In order to design compelling user experiences for humans, one must understand how humans work. In other words, an understanding of psychology is essential.  

Understand psychology??? Meh, I don't have time for that.

I feel your pain, but I'm here to help. Yes, we all have deadlines and we all feel that pull of needing to get something done as soon as possible. BUT, if you build something and no one sees it or uses it, did you really complete your job? If you’re truly looking to build something of value rather than just marking the box as “complete,” here are 3 simple tips rooted in psychology that can help you apply UX basic strategies that lead to success:

1. Be Mindful of Basic Human Limitations

While it's tempting to fill up our apps, websites and sandwich boards with as much flashy text and imagery that we can think of, this approach is a recipe for failure. The human brain can only absorb so much - about 5-7 concepts at a time - so it narrows down its focus to the most relevant pieces of information and ignores everything else. Translation: The more content you put out there, the more likely your message is going to be ignored and you will NOT get that all important attention you're looking for. And don't get me started on how too much info overstimulates users and reduces cognitive ability... 

2. Be Mindful of How Busy Everyone Is

You know that urge to just plow through a project and complete it ASAP? That's what everyone else is experiencing - they're trying to achieve goals and complete tasks in their own lives. We're all goal-oriented creatures and narrowly focused to find the path to least resistance when trying to complete a task. So, when designing an experience, this needs to be your mantra: make it as easy as possible to achieve an outcome. The easier the outcome, the more likely the behavior will happen.

3. Understand What Motivates Your Audience

What is going to instill action in your audience? Remember, in all likelihood your business goal involves motivating your user to do something (go here, buy this, etc.). Analyzing motivation and behavior is a complex subject, but the process of getting to understand your target audience is simple: TALK TO THEM! You'll be amazed at how fast you'll learn how to improve an experience from even a small sample set of users.  

In Review…

Ultimately, what we’re talking about here is employing empathy. What limitations might your customers be experiencing at the moment of interaction? What distractions might be competing for their attention? What motivation(s) lead them to encounter the product? Always keeping these sentiments at the forefront of your mind will vastly improve your skills in delivering an experience - no matter what it is and what your role in executing it is. 

If you remember one thing from this post, it's this: In order to effectively design for humans, you need to employ empathy.

Brad KnutsonComment