I consider myself a serious appmentalist. Yes, that means I’m a User Hugger. An appmentalist is a person who considers that applications, as opposed to heredity or nurturing, are the primary influence on the development of a person or group of people.
The group of people I’m talking about here are users and I love the users of the applications I design.
UI design is more than just fitting all the buttons, fields, images and menus on a screen symmetrically. As designers & architects, we can stay in mechanical mode or we can become ‘User Huggers” and adopt a holistic design methodology and become true UX designers.
As a ‘User Hugger’ kind of solutions architect, I put myself in your shoes, under your hat, at your desk and get to know your personality, likes, dislikes and …oh… I also find out what kind of job you need to do when using the application I am designing for you.
I want to know all about my users. Here are a few questions I’ll ask before, or as I am in design mode:
· Where will you be when using the application?
· If you are using a mobile device, in what type of environment will you be? Indoors, outdoors, bright light, dark room? Will it be warm or cold? Will you have a WiFi connection? Are you able to plug in if your battery runs low?
· What type of responsibilities do you have?
· Do you need to communicate regularly with team members?
· Are the majority of the users right-handed or left-handed?
· Are you technically savvy or would you rather not deal with technology?
· Do you have a sense of humor?
· Do you prefer structure or are you a free wheeler?
· Are you a careful user, or would you rather I add features to protect you from yourself?
These are only a small number of questions I consider during the design phase.
As I get to know my users, I design the user experience before one line of code has been laid down. I develop the UI and workflow in fully formed mockups. My users are able to review the mockups and determine if they like the interaction depicted, the look and feel in the UI presentation and the degree of application intuitiveness. My users are able to imagine using the application prior to development.
In my world, the user experience is everything. The design I present conveys the user experience as fully formed as possible so the resulting application is as user appealing as possible. I am interactive with my users so my applications will interact with them to meet realistic and fun expectations developed during our design phase. I say ‘our design phase’ because the user’s and I are really a team.
The goal is to develop an application that does the right job, does the job right, is reliable and is appealing to the user. When those goals are met, my users have been effectively ‘hugged.’
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