Summary of Hyper Island User Experience Lab

The Business of UX

Design is not only the look and feel of an object, it is also the process of originating and developing a new object. One of the main goals of user experience is to delight customers and make more money. UX is a moving target, as technical standards, interface trends, platforms, customer expectations are constantly changing.

So how can we define what “good design” is? Experts agree that a well-designed app/website should be clear, easy to use, and feel natural. It should also be forgiving: undoing an action should be simple in case the user makes a mistake.

A very interesting point that was raised in the workshop was around the dangers of UX. It is now increasingly common for designers to “copy” other well-created designs. Even though on one side, one could argue that this is beneficial for the user, on the other hand, it could also be a real problem for companies. If designers copy off each other, what will happen to branding? How will brands be able to differentiate themselves? What will be their point of difference? A few really interesting questions to think about.

The power of simplicity

One of our educators was Chris Harris, which I have already interviewed at the beginning of the week. He is a big advocate of simplicity: think big, solve simple. Always step back and ask yourself: who else can I solve this problem for? He advised us to always start working where the users spend most of their time.

He introduced us to some really interesting concepts, such as the job-to-be-done theory and the disruptive theory. A job has extreme longevity, it is only the technology around a job that changes. For example, eating breakfast in the morning as a “job” has been around for ages; it is just the means and technology that change for the same job. When you design experiences, always ask yourself, which job are you designing for, why would people choose your design over another one (which solution would they “fire”?). If you get the job wrong, your company can (and will) go down.

Psychology Behind Design

Usability is the degree to which something – software, hardware or anything else – is easy to use and a good fit for people who use it. The primary notion of usability is efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction.

What are some of top tips to make your design user-friendly? The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback. It should also speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to them. Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Remember that every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.

Usability Testing

Usability testing uncovers problems that once fixed improve the overall user experience. Testing is really crucial because you will discover how real users interact with your product and you will almost always learn something about your product which the project team couldn’t foresee. 5 or 6 users per user group is usually enough to identify key problems.

There are a few mistakes that you should try to avoid when doing usability testing: testing too much/too long, not bringing the team together, not knowing why you are testing, not recruiting the right participants, and not designing the right tasks.

In summary, I think this was a great workshop full of insights. Everyone left really inspired and some impressive prototypes were produced over the course of the week. Look out for my article next week about my personal reflections on the lab and how I am planning to apply this new-found knowledge at work.