Cognitive psychology, design thinking, usability, usability testing, User Behaviour, User Experience, User Psychology

When Don Norman talked about my “How I explained the solar system to my mom in Hindi” story in his speech

Tales of UX in childhood:

As soon as I shared a childhood episode with Don over lunch, he immediately called out his colleague and asked me to repeat what I said, with a confused face I thought I said something unsuitable,  nevertheless I repeated and said “One day when I came back from school, my mom asked me “What did you learn in school today? I was wondering how do I explain to her the Solar System in Hindi today? And in a way which is digestible to her? Hailing from a village, my mother had never been to school but she was always curious to learn. That was probably my first step towards simplifying ideas into bits of chewable information for the right target audience.

Sharing stories of my childhood experiences with UX

Stories are exciting

Don Norman and I share an immense passion for education, as we believe that is one important aspect is shaping the future of this world and after hearing my story he quoted “We need curiosity in our education system, a learning form which can never be replaced”

Who is Don Norman?

Don-Norman

Don Norman

Recently I had the opportunity to host world famous Donald Norman – a cognitive scientist who joined the team at Apple in the early 90s as their User Experience Architect – making him the first person to have UX in his job title. He came up with the term “user experience design” as a way of encompassing all that UX is. By this time Don had also written his classic book, “The Design of Everyday Things,” which championed design for usability and functionality rather than aesthetics. it remains hugely influential for designers today. At the heart of his approach is human and activity-centered design, combining knowledge of cognitive science, engineering, and business with the design.

Hosting Don Norman in India

Being an active member of the Ispirt Volunteer team and having shared my usability expertise on mega projects like Bhim, UPI, EkStep and DigiYatra, It was time for the next big thing for Ispirt.

Ispirt works to transform India into a hub for new generation software products, by addressing crucial government policy, creating market catalysts and grow the maturity of product entrepreneurs.

The conversations started with the living legend with an exclusive closed-door meeting at [24]7.ai situated in the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore where various solutions/products were discussed to get his unbiased feedback.

Public Speech by Don Norman had for over a hundred designers, developers and product folks. I remember before the talk Don asked me a peculiar question, “Shaheena; should I use a presentation?” and I said yes sure. But then an entire conversation went around why presentations are needed or why they are not. Well, eventually I was of the opinion how about experimenting and not using one? Well to my surprise he did not use one.

During lunch and coffee, we shared stories and spoke about cultural behaviours from an Indian perspective and hearing his insights too. As we walked to meet the press and waited at the elevator area he looked at me and said “how does one know which elevator to call and how to do these buttons function” and we had a sneered at each other like we knew what we were referring too.

A complex problem does not have a simple solution: The Talk of the Legend

20190222_160343(1)Don started off by imploring designers to ask a question to themselves, what is the problem that they would want to work on? Healthcare? Education?

A complex problem does not have a simple solution, it is solved bit by bit because in the process of helping some people it might harm some other people. Hence it is important to test the solutions on a smaller set of people and then learn from that and iterate and keep iterating.  We learn from testing and its important that we tell ourselves that we have not been proven wrong if we fail but we have learnt a lot more than what we knew before. This term was fondly called “Muddling Through” because as per Don, Experts do not always understand cultural nuances, behavioural biases and deeply hidden insecurities of the people the solution is eventually built for.

He is a strong advocate of “Community Driven Knowledge” i.e Citizen-Based Knowledge Systems, this is the most sustainable form of design solutions because they are conceived by the people for the people.

This is the role of a designer to get people together for a common cause.

Understand the Problem Deeply:

Helping Don sign the booksA designer is someone who designs something that has an impact on society. A solution that is aimed at technology first is a good recipe for failure, we will never to able to start by finding technology solution. What we must do is understand the problem deeply.

A designer must understand which discipline is necessary for designing a solution. They must know a bit about every aspect of the ancillary problems associated with the core problems. It’s important to know about the other fields that he is exposed to as opposed to just blinker focus on your core area. We must not simply design solutions, they must be accepted by the society that’s the goal of every solution. A human mind understands the cause and effect of the actions he will be doing. Hence it’s easier to build for behaviours of people as opposed to changing the behaviour because behavioural change eventually happens on its own. Human mind understands the cause and effect relationship, hence give them a problem they care about that’s when they learn and change. Build something first quickly, and give people to try also called “Research Through Design” is the way by which you learn much faster. Ending the session with autographs on his books, it was now time for the press.

Ending the day discussing some social projects that affect the medical and education sector of the country, it was amazing to share the table and discuss hypothesis, assumptions and biases with Don.

Advice to Designers: Be curious

The 82-year-old Don Norman is anything but an old, he is curious and would always like to be that way. He tries anything that is different. Humble and asks tonnes of questions.

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An Autograph as unique as the man himself

 

Cheers,

RuthlessUX

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#WtfUx, FuckedUpUx, Industrial Design, usability, User Behaviour, User Experience, User Experience Review, User Psychology

#WtfUx : Bad user experience design can make you feel dumb in the washroom

You must have heard of kids getting locked in the washroom but its so embarrassing to imagine if an adult was struggling to find his way out. Washroom is one place you would not want to overload your brain with any form of cognitive processing, i mean getting in and out of a washroom should be a piece of cakewalk right? Not for the washroom designed in the lobby area of The Trident Hotel- at BKC in Mumbai.  The hotel like one of those over-friendly friends who is constantly around for no good reason tried to be “over creative” by designing a very confusing looking washroom lock and in that process successfully flushing down the drain basic principles of user centric designs  which are required to be adhered while designing objects of daily use.

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(Image by RuthlessUx: Lobby area washroom / or as it is labelled in hi-fi settings as cloak room (ladies) at the Trident Bkc, Mumbai)

Why in the world would a designer have an open knob separate and a lock unlock knob separate? And to dig their own grave further add shabby “suggestive” stickers on them which are peeling off! Argh! I have coined a term for these kind of designers – “Creative Assholes” Lol. Because they’re doing something not just stupid and annoying, but mean.

Usability is a common courtesy that designers owe to their potential users and a good user experience designer  (not restricted to digital products, it could be a space experience designer, industrial designer working on ergonomics of usability etc) will always indirectly and lucidly amalgamate the abstract logic of usability with literal understanding of common sense in forms and designs that’s more digestible and intuitive based on the past experiences of the users and seems to be a part of common sense.

Why would a designer make a simple task like opening a washroom lock complicated – to be different? to think out of the box? to be abstract? – unless they wanted to do some sort of ‘IQ’ test on how peoples brain function after peeing or pooping? or may be are people that attentive after they have eased themselves? or can people find their way out of our so called innovative lock system?

 

The moment you make a user think for a task that is “more mechanical or routine” in nature and doesn’t really require “thinking” you have clearly lost as a designer and delivered a #WtfUx. In simple language any routine task where a user doesn’t have to think much and can understand fast from the design and placement of the sections or its intuitive design visuals is more probable to accomplish that task – (in this case its not the first time a person would be unlocking a washroom door to exit. which means its a learnt behavior and complicating that is stupidity)

ruthlessux_knob-#wtfux-intuitivE-GOOD

The left designs are way more usable and intuitive then the right hand one

Empathy is the key to designing usable products and we as designers should put our self in the position of the person who will will eventually use your product.

I mean i totally buy the fact that you need to be creative but this knob design does anything but give me a delightful experience.  If you wish to reinvent the wheel, then the usability aspect can never be compromised? Be it Maruti or Rolls Royce the wheel shape is round for both organisations vehicles. Rolls Royce simply because they can, don’t go ahead and build a complicated hexagon shape wheel.

I know complaining about a design problem at a luxury hotel might make you question “umm am i the only one who is feeling this knob is awkward? or do other people feel the same? Its intimidating and most people i interact with just feel that its them who are incapable of figuring the way out and feel they will be seen as a fool or a less intelligent person if they speak about a problem such as this.

So keep a watch for that “Creative Asshole” around you.

Cheers & Keep it #RuthlessUx

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design thinking, Interface Design, usability testing, User Behaviour, User Experience, UX Concepts, UX Knowledge, UX Methodology

Fitts’ Law in UX

Paul Fitts:

One of the founding fathers of Ergonomics, his famous “Fitt’s Law” (which predicts the time required to rapidly move to a target area, such as a button or control) is still in use today. Fitts was a psychologist who later served in the Air Force, where his work redesigning cockpits did a lot to improve aviation safety.

Relevance to UX:

It tracks the time it takes to point at something. Taking into consideration the size and distance of the target. Fundamentally it proves that its faster for you to hit larger targets closer to you than it is to hit smaller targets that are farther away from you.

If you look at the keys on your computer keyboard you will notice that the keys users press more often like the ‘enter’ key the ‘space bar’ and the ‘shift’ key are larger than the other modifying keys. These keys are larger so they are easier to hit.
They are also closer to the alpha numeric keys.key-board

Keys that are used less often like ‘alt’ delete’ ‘esc’ are farther away from the alphanumeric keys.

Similarly when designing an interface when a designer wants users to interact with their website interface or product they make sure they make it obvious. Targets or Buttons are easily located and easy to use. (Refer Below Image)

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Its also signifies that the farther away a users mouse is and the smaller the onscreen target is the longer it takes for a user to move the cursor and click on target. (Refer Below Image)

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Fitts Law of Curve:

For Small Size Objects:

The size of the target matters. The larger the target the easier it is to hit.

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This might lead us to think that the larger buttons are always better. However this rule cannot be applied always. Fitts Law works on curve. Which means smaller objects are easier to click if they are made large.

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For Large Size Objects – The Gutenberg diagram :

However larger objects are already large. So if they are made larger yet they won’t be easier to click. Because of this curve the benefits of increased size begin to decrease. This ensure proper proportions are given to objects and that the purpose is served for the same.

Placement of Objects Onscreen – :

Actual physical placement of your screen elements are very important. The Gutenberg Diagram shows that the users tend to move through the screen from TOP LEFT to BOTTOM RIGHT. Therefore important objects and buttons must be placed in the BOTTOM RIGHT.

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Enter a caption

Designing in proportion and keeping in mind their appropriate usage is critical.

 

Text Links or One Word Link :

Always try and make a phrase a link rather than just one word.  (Refer image Below)

This makes the target link bigger and easier to click and understand.

phrase-link.png

 

Design for Different Devices :

Proper size, spacing and proportion of objects are crucial. Every item must be in sync and proportion to the other designed for serving the usage they are meant for.

 

Cheers,

RuthlessUX.com

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One of the main concerns of any online portal and product would be acquiring new customers and users aka Acquisition.
More often than not i see businesses take this crucial aspect for granted by designing complicated user journeys and more complexed user onboarding process.

However this is not done deliberately but its the lack of understanding their users and gap between what the business goals are and what the user/consumer goals are.

And when there is a wide gap between goals of the business and goals of the user, the result is going no where but south.

Designing a User Experience Strategy is a matter of logic and empathy.

Couple of things required to do this is:

  1. User Study / Research : Studying what the end goal of the user is. For eg in this form the form the user wants to simply book a test ride. By adding hurdles like extra and irrelevant input boxes its making the journey long, tiring, confusing and boring.
  2. Communication: Give users what they need. I donot want to do product enquiry. Don’t force me to. By writing irrelevant information and content you are expecting the user to be a super user. It does not work that way. Be simple and minimalistic unless you are adding value by clutter just declutter.
  3. Time : Its the fast age. Dont expect users to sit and work for you. They would rather leave than get bored filling your forms unless you have a monopoly say you are the central govt and filling that form is a matter of your life and citizenship it is highly unlikely the user would choose to do it.

Product Designing  can be confusing but if applied common sense its easier than what you think.

And if you see no savior and have no clue “baby just eat the data”

Data Analysis is the God’s word. It will always speak the truth. Never ignore it. It will tell you your demons and what should be your next step and incase of a disaster your SOS plan.

Cheers,

Shaheena Attarwala

 

 

Reviewing the “shortlist” feature on www.makaan.com web portal.

A potential house seeker is someone who would like to get rid of the burden of house hunting as soon as possible. For that its obvious he compares and analysis options available to him on various sites offering real estate services. One such popular website is www.makaan.com

Being one of the most successful indian sites in real estate offering i have not really seen much progress when it comes to swift user experience and usability on the website.

On reaching the listing page the first thing thats pushed on your face is the cluttered layout. The density of elements is not divided in an easy to digest format and makes you feel claustrophobic in the first go itself. While we go through the listing the if the user is deprived of the option to add any property to its list of favorites. That being said from the listing page onwards the user is actually made to go through the pain of “discovering” the add to favorites or say shortlist property option for any property the user wishes to shortlist. And lets assume somehow if the user stumbles upon the SHORTLIST option on click an irrelevant modal pops open which forces a user to enter details which are completely pointless to be asked at that moment. It would make more sense if they asked this info when the user is trying to get in touch with the seller of the property as the user is more likely to share information at that point and it also builds a sense of credibility as a brand  in the eyes of the user. Some other real estate portals have handled this scenario in a much better way compared to www.makaan.com 

Review by

Shaheena Attarwala (UX & Usability specialist Mumbai)

 

 

Andy Kucharski-  Chicago

India is now moving ahead with the brilliant  #digitalIndia  campaign and now that alot of new ideas and technology are being embraced to make this campaign a successful  one, the first being the #netneutrality victory!

During the Drupal Con Asia Summit 2016 held at IIT Bombay – Powai I put forward my concerns on to some IT govt officials as to why our indian govt websites for eg: http://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/ , http://passportindia.gov.in/AppOnlineProject/welcomeLink and some more and lacking behind in terms of user experience and usability.

A healthy discussion with some Govt officials and Public Private Partnerships representatives, SME’s assured a better ux in the near future. They also asked me to send my feedback on how we can make things better on that front. Its a good start!

I also managed to collect alot of user feedback on the experience  they hav had using some of these websites.  Posting one of the Video Review i collected from

A Little About the Event:

The #drupalGov & #drupalcon summit at IIT Bombay ( https://events.drupal.org/asia2016 ) was an amazing journey filled with vouching for the free open source softwares, drupal as a FOSS, tech, platforms, etc.

Interacting with members of DIETY (Department of Electronics & Information Technology  and National Informatics Centre Services Inc. (NICSI) India during the sessions was a great experience.

 

Review by

Shaheena Attarwala (UX & Usability specialist Mumbai)

design thinking, User Behaviour, User Experience, User Psychology, User Study

Bad Design & Lack of DESIGN THINKING was cause for the MISS UNIVERSE goof up

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Bad Design of the was cause for the MISS UNIVERSE goof up

It doesn’t take a genius to look the card and judge how badly its been designed.

Design is KEEPING things simple and it surely takes absolutely zilch effort to ruin the basics of design.

How can designer take so much liberty to go insanely wrong.

May be sometimes designers in the attempt to make an “out of the world” design land up making “out of understanding” design.

That is the precise reason why DESIGN THINKING is a different ball game all together. Its not a plain button and layout design it surpasses the boundaries of design and digs into the user psychology and understanding of user behaviour.

Suggestions:

May be the layout could have been made more to the point. Mind you its a card not a marketing presentation or a web page that needed a study to be designed. A Plain list format would have also done the job. Or may be a horizontal hierarchy design as well would have served the purpose. But this bombardment of text seems illogical.

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