Tuesday, April 15, 2014

User Experience

Today being the second day of my internship at Nascent, I thought it might be interesting to think about what user experience currently means to me. I might compare this with the ideas I pick up on the other side of these three weeks to reflect on what I have learned.

First of all, I feel that the term 'user experience' has a certain connotation that it can only be related to digital media. Whether or not this is widely believed to be true, I personally feel that I am able to relate the practices and theories of user experience to any piece of design, whether it be industrial, print, web, interactive, etc. And it doesn't end there, either.

I was looking for the expiry date on a jar of cream I had bought, and found it on the bottom. First of all, I suppose that it would be a logical place to look for the expiry because that placement is what we are used to as consumers, but having it on the bottom forces the user to turn the jar upside down, possibly causing a spill. Think of one of those situations where someone you find attractive asks you for the time. You forget about the cup of water you're holding and spill it all over your shirt so you turn your wrist to check your watch...and then you realize you don't own a watch at all.

Secondly, The expiry date read as "MA142015". Naturally, I wondered to myself, is this MArch or MAy? I began to wonder which month would be more likely. Since March has more options of a second letter to choose from, MA probably refers to May. But then I realized, instead of trying to pick the month that more logically would use the A as its second letter, why wouldn't we erase all of the confusion and not use A for either month? March should be MR and May should be MY. From the producer's perspective, seeing MR beside MA makes it obvious that MA refers to May, but the consumer will probably never have both of those pieces of information (at least at any one time). The consumer will most likely only own one jar of cream at a time, forcing the MA instance to be isolated, with no outside reference.

I thought that this scenario was a good example of user experience. Instead of trying to decide whether March or May is more deserving of using A as its second letter, the better designer would understand that neither of them should use the A.

And of course, had the appropriate amount of thought been put into this packaging design, my blog post would never have been written in the first place. As we all know, when we experience good design, we won't even notice that anything has been designed. The beauty of truly understanding your user should mean that they never have to think about the design that you achieved. It should be so natural that they don't even perceive its existence. This is my goal over the next three weeks.

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