Posts Tagged ‘empathy’

The Need for Emotional Goals for Design

Adam Connor shared this brief insightful blog post that really caught my attention:

On emotion and experience (Thought for the Day)

If you aren’t at least considering people’s emotions, you probably aren’t designing for an experience.

Image of Mood Magnet from Creative Therapy Associates

What do you want your users to feel when they use your designs? (Mood Magnet © 1994 Creative Therapy Associates, Inc.)

I have written about the need to have empathy with our users before, but Adam has very eloquently and succinctly pointed out why it matters. If we are to design for experience, that has to be a total human experience, emotional as well as intellectual.

But wait, you say, I’m designing tax processing software? Isn’t filing taxes a purely intellectual activity and hardly a positive emotional experience? Study after study shows that even what seem to be purely rational activities require and are greatly influenced by emotions. For example, studies have shown that emotion is essential in decision-making, so much so that people who had suffered a brain injury that impaired their emotional capabilities had significant difficulties making decisions. Emotion in design, also, is not an unfamiliar or recent topic. Books such as Donald Norman’s Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things, published in 2004, and more recently, Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter explore the importance of emotions for successful design.

And yet we still need reminders like Adam’s post to consider emotion in the design process.  Read the rest of this post »

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Posted in design, Musings, UX

Wish your users Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is about celebrating people we care about. It seems like a good holiday to focus on increasing our empathy and compassion for our customers and our users. Here are a few perspectives on why empathy is good for innovation and success as well as thoughts on cultivating compassion. Read the rest of this post »

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Posted in design, Innovations, UX

Empathy fail: Mistakes UX designers make

In “The top mistakes UX designers make: the writeup,” Scott Berkun shares common errors about culture and attitude that designers and user researchers make. Sadly, most of the mistakes seemed to result when we fail to have empathy for our colleagues. The following summarizes just a few of Berkun’s points that I found particularly interesting and distressingly familiar: Read the rest of this post »

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Posted in Musings, UX

Cultivating empathy with your users

User experience, at its best, is about empathy with the people who use the products and services we design. However, not all organizations start a user experience practice with empathy as a goal. Of the many options to cultivate empathy in your organization, consider how you talk about the practice of user experience design. This is not an academic exercise in semantics. Words frame how we understand and relate to things around us. The following are words and phrases that I’ve found important to building empathy in a user experience practice and with the teams I work with.

Usability testing, not user testing. “System testing” can be rephrased “testing the system,” showing that system as the subject of the testing. When considering the testing activity in a user experience practice, the phrase “usability testing” accurately describes what is being tested, the usability of the design. Users are not being tested, so “user testing” indicates the wrong test subject. Users are more correctly testers, much as they are in user acceptance testing. Of course, they are rarely referred to as testers, which leads to my next word…

Dictionary page showing definition of human

Hemera Technologies/

Participant, not subject.  Some people refer to users who participate in a usability test as “subjects.” This term derives from the behavioral research roots of usability testing. The techniques of such research, not humans as the object of the test, inform usability testing. A better term is “participant.”

Miscues, not errors. Because the subject of a usability test is the product design not the user, reporting the results should reflect that distinction. Many experience usability testers record the errors made in usability testing, understanding that this means the errors in design. To err is human, as the saying goes, so the term “error” can suggest that the participant made mistakes, making it easier to avoid recognizing a flawed design. When you refer to problems in terms of “miscues,” however, the connotation is that the design failed to correctly guide a user at best or, at worst, completely misleads test participants off the happy path (a good related phrase, don’t you think?) of the test and the intention for task completion.

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Posted in Musings, News, UX