user experience design
Washing a bike can be a great experience In life we remember great experiences. The good times imprint themselves more than the mediocre stuff that passes us by. Some of the most memorable experiences happen when an otherwise negative situation is transformed into a great one through such things as our surroundings, technology or people. Personally, I have a bit of a thing about power tools.Washing my mountain bike after an off-road excursion is a cold, boring necessity. But with my 110 bar pressure washer it’s turned into a power trip with a very satisfying outcome. A more scientific experiment was carried out by Volkswagen in Sweden. Their aim was to encourage people to use the stairs instead of the escalator in an underpass. So they covered the stairs with huge interactive piano keys. Stair use increased by 66%. Check out the entertaining evidence here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeAJJDRn_H0
. Of course the opposite also happens. Negative experiences leave us with bad
associations. This can scar us for life and mean we can never face the same experience again without revulsion, fear or displeasure. What about the sound of the dentist’s drill? The embarrassment of learning to swim? That bad service in a restaurant? So great experiences help us feel good and enjoy what we are doing. But even mundane activities can be lifted through careful application of some external factor.
UXD is not part of the process, it is the process A learner will have an experience of your e-learning whether it was a conscious design decision or not. From a huge immersive course to a tiny navigation icon, it doesn’t matter; the learner experiences everything. Exploring further, it’s easier to clarify what UXD is not. A post by Whitney Hess3 does a great job of this. So, I’ll reiterate her great summary of what UXD is not:
user interface design – interface is a component of UXD, but there’s much more to it
a step in the process – it IS the process, so keep iterating and listening to make it work
about technology – UXD is not limited to the confines of the computer as it encompasses concepts and emotions as well
just about usability – it’s also about making products that people want to use just about the user – it’s also about meeting the objectives of the business expensive – possibly the biggest misunderstanding, but small UXD tweaks can have a major and cost effective impact
easy – UXD designers have to merge business language and programmer language, which are often poles apart
the role of one person or department – UXD is a liaison between many elements of a business and there isn’t a magic wand solution
a single discipline – UXD is still new and being consolidated from many other existing specialisms
a choice – companies have a choice to invest in their users’ experience, but to survive, they don’t.
So UXD encompasses everything you do as a course designer.
A creative spat between designers resolved So to the heated debate in our office. The instructional and creative designers have locked horns about the form of an interaction design. Feathers are flying about functionality, instructions, feedback and visual design. It’s sometimes difficult for these disciplines to work together. Instructional design often dominates e-learning design. Yes, instructional integrity has to be
april 2012 e.learning age
… great experiences help us feel good and enjoy what we are doing. But even mundane activities can be lifted through careful application of some external factor
maintained, but the cost is that the creative designer often just slops the icing on the cake at the end. But Master Chef shows that garish icing usually hides a partially cooked, unpalatable interior. Headphones on and time to think. How can we facilitate a truce between the warring parties? Is there a model of design that both these camps can latch on to and think bigger than their own niche specialism?
UXD was the obvious way to go – use it to ring fence our e-learning design process and tick the boxes of our head strong creative and learning types. The first step was to extend UXD to e-learning development. Beaten to the line
again, we found that Learner Experience Design4 or LXD has already evolved from UXD, as an application of the same process to learning development. So our strategy is to make LXD our design process. As we’ve seen – it should BE the process. So in our organisation, LXD pervades instructional design, creative design and even course development. We want to transform our e-learning into memorable and enjoyable experiences using this model. Believe me, it works.
Look around for sources of inspiration So we understand what UXD is and how we are going to integrate it with our existing development process. What sources of inspiration are there? What does good UXD look like? Other industries are skillful at using UXD, particularly advertising, film and television. Take a few examples:
Public information films – often a shocking message but delivered in a humorous way to trigger many emotions and make us remember the experience.
Apple iPhone/iPad – examples of UXD perfection as complexity is hidden away and simple gestures drive everything.
Social gaming – Farmville gets 11 million hits a day as it tugs on our nurturing instincts to look after animals and vegetables on a virtual patch of earth (there are even stories about people waking at 3am to water their virtual rice field!)
There are many more sources of UXD inspiration, often in unlikely places. Look around wherever you go and you’ll generate ideas to enrich your e-learning.
How do we know good UXD when we see it? Now a note of caution – experiences can be very subjective. You either love or hate a big dipper (why pay to be centrifuged in my opinion?). So always design with your audience in mind by considering their age band, culture, emotional state, demographics and what you think will ‘flick their switch’. Remember that UXD needs to be applied with caution, and it needs evaluating against solid measures.
Thankfully, Peter Morville has done the hard work and created the UXD
honeycomb5. It allows us to evaluate our designs against seven criteria – lifting evaluation from traditional ‘usability’ testing to a richer analysis of the quality of the experience.
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