Not IF we tell them, but WHEN.

The question I love most while designing is:

“What mindset are we designing for?”

As designers (and devs!), we’re privy to the information required by both shopkeeper and customer. We also tend to learn the hard way that this information can’t be smashed all at once.

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From reflecting (over-thinking) on my own thoughts while shopping, I know I transition through different states of mind as I go from browsing to buying, and eventually to having. Thus, my need for information changes depending on where I am in the shopping process.

For example: I don’t care about “indemnification” or “limitation of liability” when I’m still trying to figure out what’s on offer; save it for after I’ve decided your terms are relevant to my interests.

For the next 30 seconds, let’s assume you and other users are like me – our need for information changes as we go.

Common wisdom tells us that timing is everything in communication. While the playing field is different in web design, the same strategies still apply. In offline communication, you consider the circumstances of the person you’re speaking to – whether they’re rushing and don’t have time to listen; whether it’s too early in the day for complicated questions; whether they have enough background knowledge to answer your question, etc.

So when designing user journeys, it can be useful to empathise with the user at every part of the journey. This involves asking ourselves questions like:

  • Does the user need to know this yet?
  • What other information does this piece of detail compete with right now?
  • Have we given the user enough context to understand this at this point?

If you can get the timing right, the user experience is seamless; you’re a ninja. All information requirements are met before the user knows it, and you’re nowhere to be seen.

Pic sauce: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/ibm_working_chips_simulate_brain

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The Personality Principle

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If your interface has personality, good or bad aesthetics, quality, flow, satisfaction, or fulfilment are not important; I’d probably even go as far as saying that usability is not important either. Personality trumps all the rest because it is the only one that can give the user an emotionally valuable engagement with the software engineering artefact. There are no tests for this principle, if it has personality you’ll know it!

Source: The Personality Principle [#ux], Thinking Out Loud

This guy makes an interesting point. I don’t know if I could prove that aesthetics, quality and flow are unimportant, but personality (or lack of personality) does tend to cut through all of that stuff. When our site lacks personality, our users certainly have no qualms telling us about it. 😐

Think of someone you know. Think of surface stuff like how they dress, what they do, how they talk, what they drive, their mannerisms and body language. Now think of below-the-surface stuff like their emotionality or lack thereof, their reactivity or stability, their capacity for empathy, their likes and dislikes, their respect for boundaries, sense of humour and how they treat you as a person.

You can make two good arguments here:

1. That if someone’s below-the-surface stuff impresses you, you probably won’t mind so much how they dress or the annoying habits they have. Similarly, if they’ve upset you somehow, even a slip of the tongue or misplaced elbow will give you the shits. Therefore, you could say the below-the-surface stuff – personality – does trump the superficial aspects.

2. When getting to know someone, their superficial aspects are what you see first, and may effectively prime you to interpret their below-the-surface traits in a biased way. If you hate black because it reminds you of bad kids in school, then someone wearing black all the time might start you down the winding road of misjudgment (this is an extreme example; we’re all way smarter than that!). Here, you could say the surface stuff – aesthetics, quality, flow – are actually very important.

So, websites:

Do you think personality trumps all, stands on equal footing, or doesn’t matter?

Have you seen a site with loads of personality – how did you feel about it next to a site with no personality?

What do you reckon are the risks of designing and launching a site that’s functionally and aesthetically sound, but has the personality of mayonnaise?

Augmented reality IKEA catalogue

The 2013 IKEA paper catalogue will be complemented by an iOS app for interactive, AR goodness.

http://www.ikeahackers.net/2012/07/the-2013-ikea-catalog-is-alive.html

Sounds like fun, huh? No word on anything for us Android users. If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, please let us know what you think when the app and book come out. 😀

via IKEA Hackers

Redesigning without upsetting users

There’s a reason designers have a reputation for being fanciful – sometimes we really are. It’s not that we throw caution to the wind and let our imaginations run away, it’s that just like everyone else, we think we see a better way of doing things and don’t realise we might not know everything we need to.

We could have the best solution in the world, yet waste it on trying to solve the wrong problem.

UX Mag published a feature a couple weeks ago with a 5-point checklist on how to avoid doing this in a redesign (not actually in checklist format). I’d even go a step further to suggest Studying History during the design process so we avoid re-treading turf that failed under the same circumstances in previous designs.

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How to train your chicken

Chickens can be stubborn creatures. The good news is that, because they’re motivated by food, you can easily use food to train their behaviour.

via Clicker Training Chickens

Users can be pretty damn stubborn too. Can you think of ways we might use good design to train their behaviour?

The Chinese word for ‘window’ is an emoticon for awkwardness

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiong

When we promoted a product to Chinese audiences in Australia, we were careful to use red (where we’d normally use black) in our marketing material. In Chinese culture, red symbolises life and all sorts of good things – and being the enterprising capitalists we are, we wanted to cash in on some of that.

I hope we were also careful to omit the number 4 from any of our listings, since the word for 4 sounds a lot like the word for death – is thus considered bad luck.

All this languagey-cross-culturey stuff reminds me of the Pajero thing – here, have something to read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand_blunder

The Next Microsoft

Today’s post comes courtesy of Mark – behold Microsoft, rebranded:

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http://www.minimallyminimal.com/journal/2012/7/3/the-next-microsoft.html

What do you think? Love it? Hate it?

Should probably clarify – this isn’t for real. Just this guy’s awesome attempt at an experimental rebrand.