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.

cat-brain.jpg.scaled500

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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