I was chatting to a friend over a glass of wine and she asked me what I “actually” did for a living, as if my job was playing with post-it notes and crayons and setting my desk on fire.
And it got me thinking, how would I communicate fundamental UX principles to someone totally unfamiliar with the industry?
Why! By looking at real-world examples when it’s done very badly indeed.
Let’s kick of with Aesthetic and minimalist design
A lift Willy Wonka would be proud of. Random use of colours, duplication of information and bonkers layout. Good interfaces should lead the eye to important information, minimise the amount of information presented and use white space and colours carefully.
Poor old Frank, the old codger was used to posting his mail in a red mail box and when another red box popped up nearer his home he naturally assumed this was for his mail. OK this story has got to be made-up, but it illustrates the problems when you invite errors. Carefully delineate different objects and functions.
What’s the problem here then? There are two parameters for making what I assume is a totally delicious dish but ‘COOK’ time is given prominence. Both factors are equally important so should receive the same visual styling.
Consistency also applies to things like naming conventions and placement of objects on screen. Classic fails I see are random abbreviations and buttons moving around the interface.
Give clear and unambiguous instructions
The user is going to need help and instructions from time to time and if that’s the case, please make sure they are clear and don’t contradict themselves.
Assist data input
LOL. Like I’m really going to go up to a ticket machine and buy ZERO tickets FFS. Why can’t the system default to 1 so I don’t have to endure a pointless click?
A good interface minimises the amount of information the user has to input via methods such as accelerators, defaults and shortcuts.
Recognise rather than recall
Users hate remembering information because they will most likely forget it when they need it. This example shows how much information one has to memorise just to get a bus home out of Glasgow city center. I still have no idea.
When you design something try and use terms and concepts that the user will recognise and act on, rather than have them enter previously encountered data or learn new concepts.
Test your work
A modern classic. Aside from the shocking design, just checkout where the winners name is. If you’re holding it with your right hand, where do you think your thumb would be? A bit of testing would have found this out and avoided poor Columbia’s embarrassment.
So, erm, test your work before it goes live.
And that’s it. A few things I didn’t cover but I think I got the main bits across. But what did you think? Do you think illustrating what UXers do via funny failage is the way forward? How would you explain what you do?