How to design User Experience?

We all experience things differently

Many people talk about design User Experience today. Have you thought about what an experience is? And that we have different experiences because we are all unique? If you hold that thought and think about the meaning of User Experience design -is it even possible to design an experience?

Here are my thoughts about User Experience, this is not an exact definition, just my way to explain and my very personal reflections and guidelines towards better User Experience.

Think of the scenario that you go for a walk, it’s springtime. You hear the birds singing with joy. The gras looks so green and new. The sun warms your skin and the breeze is tender. This is one experience many of us can relate to. We might not feel the exact same way but most of us think about this scenario in a positive way.

design User Experience?

The big thing today is to experience things

Today people have turned from owning things to experience things. It’s not enough just having great experiences on your trip to Thailand, but you want experiences more often than that. An example is how we act towards music: today it’s few people that buy records (if it’s not for the experience connected to collecting old LP’s). You don’t need to own records, people like to experience the music, on a phone or a concert etc.

Is it possible to design User Experience?

There lies a challenge when we are going to design User Experience, of course, you can’t just copy and paste. It’s not about technology, UI or Graphic design, even if these things are important and are needed for the experience, it’s about creating a meaningful experience through a technological device.

According to Marc Hassenzal (2010): “an experience is a story emerging from the dialogue of a person with her or his world through action”.

We need to experience the design before the product, to learn how it feels to act on a product, to use it or interact with it. 

To design a great User Experience you need to be able to imagine what the user wasn’t to feel and experience while using the system or site that you have designed…

To imagine that you need to know the user and his or hers needs. You have to create scenarios where you tell the users story while using the system or site:

  • Why is people visiting your site (purpose, meaning)?
  • What tasks does the user need to performed?
  • How can your system/site help the user do this?

Create your scenario like a story, where the user interact with the system or site. This is a huge and solid ground for your design process. 

Here is an example of a simple scenario:

Lisa gets home from work and has a seat in the kitchen. She feels tired and a bit sad after en argue with here boss. She is feeling lonely. Suddenly, a sound from her phone. 

A message gets visible on the screen: Hi, How are you? Do you wish to go out for a while? Love from Sue 

Lisa smiles, her friend is always there for her, how fantastic, isn’t that? The evening looks to be a lot better.

In this scenario, the phone plays a part and the technology to. The phone fills a need for social relationships and friendship in this case. You can also see that we actually design the product and the possibility to connect in this case, the experience is personal and happens in different ways. But we need to create stories to understand  and imagine the users situations. In this case, the phone could have showed a lot of different messages to different people. All should have created unique experiences.

How to find the scenarios?

You can base a scenario on user surveys or by observing the user situation. For a large site that sells clothes, it’s not possible to observe all the actual users. Then surveys are an excellent way to find out what some possible users expect from a site like that. Why do they visit? To get inspired or, for shopping?

Summary

To sum up, people today have more or less moved from owning to experience things. To design a product or website or mobile app, we need to put the experience first. All functions, buttons and graphic design is ways to prepare the product to let the users have numerous experiences. In designing a User Experience lies a challenge, but it is doable if we have the stories in mind, the user scenarios and if we try to understand our users.

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