In these confusing days of user experience design, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of constantly shifting vocabulary. Every company and designer with whom I speak has a different definition for taxonomy, information architecture, usability testing, iterative design, etc…
Something’s getting lost. Oh yeah! It’s the user.
My approach has always been simple and direct. User interface design should be fast, efficient and pleasant. When the average person interacts with a web application that’s all they’re looking for…and they’re shocked when they actually get it. I learned that from my mom.
Only the design industry and teenage boys want cool, incomprehensible graphics. And then, only the design industry sighs over perfectly beveled CSS3 corners. When did we become such an elitist crowd spouting off the most rarefied prose? Why have we started designing for ourselves and not the end-users?
I read an article many years ago. (I’ll link to it if I find it.) The basic premise was that websites are either masterpieces or forks. Masterpieces are beautiful but non-functional. Forks are utilitarian. My goal is to create the most beautiful fork I can. I know it sounds odd coming from someone with a fine art degree, but hey, I have a whole other website filled with my art work. When it comes to design, I give myself over to the end-users’ needs.
“If you can help, you should.” — my mom
My mother is a perfect example of true customer service. In her job as an accounts receivable clerk, she bends over backwards trying to help customers with their accounts. Then she takes copious notes so that the next clerk helping that customer will know exactly what happened and the steps she’s taken to resolve it. Even though her hard work is rarely acknowledged, she takes pride in do her job well because that’s how she’d want to be treated as a customer.
Whenever I’m working out a UI design, the end-user is foremost in my mind. First, “How can I make the functionality of this screen as fast, efficient and pleasant for them as possible?” I also take pride in my work. I worry about taxonomy, information architecture and so on, so they don’t have to.
I always keep in mind that it’s not about me. It’s about them (the end-user). I learned that from my mom too.
P.S. Happy Mother’s Day Mom (from your favorite)