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Are You Experienced? – Design and the User Experience

By Alex Rebele

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With the rapid advancement and ubiquity of computers, interactive design has become a ground for serious psychological trial. Computers have melded into our everyday lives, and to a point, feel quite natural to navigate. We owe that to those who specialize in UX (user experience).

What is UX?

It has a few names (user experience design, interaction design, human-computer interaction) but most of the time UX is the acronym that gets thrown around.  It is any aspect of a person’s interaction with computer technology. Among these interactions much attention has been given to the user interface of laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Designers are continuously reshaping these interactions to make the end user feel more at home with their device.

 

Why is it important?

If you had to hit twenty different buttons to make toast in the morning, you would probably never make toast. The same goes for websites, apps and other software. The point of these technologies is to improve your life. If more time is spent troubleshooting and/or getting lost in the process, it defeats the purpose. In terms of a website, for example, a good homepage for a company needs to be an “elevator pitch” of sorts, short and to the point. People need to instantly “get” what the website is about, and where they can go if they want more information.

 

What makes a good user experience?

  • Forgiveness: People make mistakes; a good interface design will make it easy for the user to get back to where they need to be.
  • Consistency: Use of color, fonts, what a button looks like; all of these elements must have a system in place for the user to become comfortable and familiar with.
  • Simplicity: Keep your website to the point, don’t overload the user with too much information all at once.
  • Make It Personable:  Make sure you are relating to your audience. The website needs to feel like a great fit with its people.

 

Where is it headed?

Right now, the user experience is much associated with a visual interface that we touch or click to get a response. As technology improves it will likely move further in the direction of what feels natural, or human. How do humans interact? They talk. They make hand gestures. They make facial expressions. These technologies are already finding their way into the public. Apple’s Siri and the Xbox one’s Kinect are just a couple of examples of how tech is trying to become more… well… human.

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