I’ve been thinking alot about User Experience lately. Okay, I’ll admit it, I think about it constantly You could say I have UX OCD, thank god it’s balanced by my ADD!
I see a great deal of fantastic UX design (CNN), sometimes side by side with very bad UX (Facebook). User Experience, even just the User Interface portion of it is not relegated to the Web though. The greatest form of User Experience ever is the sandwich. Think about it: it requires no special tools and can have completely customized content. A sandwich can be flat, rolled, cold, warm and can include a variety of brands from private to Oscar Meyer before engaging with your mouth. Is this taking UX to a too simplified place? Not at all, anymore than discussing the genius behind Modernista’s non-website. For those of you not familiar with it, Modernista’s non-website is merely a layer of navigation over Google results for their name. Technically it’s genius, but more importantly it uses this abstract of a website as a way to qualify clients. If their non-site is too weird for a potential client then its obvious that that client isn’t potential.
Don’t think for a second that User Experience is relegated to web designers. I mentioned the sandwich to give you a point of reference for how broad a reach UX has. Let me give you a recent personal example. As recently as 10 minutes ago and as personal as my breakfast. I’m talking about butter. Stop & Shop butter.
Believe it or not there is a glaring User Experience mistake here. Do you see it? It may not effect everyone but it does effect anyone with both salted and unsalted butter in their refrigerator. Imagine that you’ve just reached into the fridge to pull out butter to put on your corn or bread. Now imagine that you quickly glanced at the box and decided “I need the red butter, that’s the yummy, salty one” because the salted butter box is red. Now imagine how it will taste when you grab the red stick instead and read no further. You’ve just slathered your breakfast toast with unsalted butter. Have you ever tasted unsalted butter? It is NOT yummy.
Of course each stick has the type on it, but half way through a stick the wrapper is crumpled and yucky, barely legible. Why a designer chose to make the unsalted butter box blue but the stick wrapping red, and vice versa is beyond me. However, it is a good example of User Interface design that most of us can relate to. User Interface, and User Experience is everywhere and we all have to deal with it. How many of us have poured orange juice into our cereal because we haven’t had our coffee or put our glasses on and the cartons look the same? How many of us have cars with cup holders that can’t hold our coffee mugs? How many of us have struggled to figure out how to activate the automatic faucet in a public bathroom?
The fact is that more of us are involved in User Experience than we realize. My wife is a kitchen designer. She is constantly solving User Experience and Interface issues. Customer service is another extension of User Experience. Other examples with which you may be involved?
Answering the phones at your office
Public bathroom cleaning
Slicing salami at a deli
Deciding if the IN door on your store swings in or out
Picking the music that will play in your changing rooms
The signature at the bottom of your email
Choosing when to do road work
Putting your name on your mailbox
Spraying graffiti on a wall
Making sure there are pricing labels on your products
Choosing which mobile platform to develop for
Cleaning the lines for your draft beer kegs
Throwing away your old company collateral
Any others you can think of?
User Experience can be complicated but it can be as simple as paying attention to and being thoughtful about some of the the things I’ve listed above.