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Experience Design

Learning about experience design from my children

As a practitioner in the user experience design field, I have a foundational understanding that the way I do or think of things is not necessarily the same as others. It never ceases to amaze and inspire me when I get user feedback on an existing or proposed design and they bring things to the table that we had never even considered.
One of my chief reminders of this truth is watching how my children interact with their electronic interfaces. They constantly remind me of the exploratory mindset that many technology consumers have — some merely by immersion from a young age, some that have an innate desire to explore, some that are experientially conditioned to know that seekers may find unexpected features — that I don’t always have myself.
For example, the other day I showed my 9-year-old son how to customize the quick launch bar on his iPod Touch. He showed me what he did — he removed the Safari link and replaced it with Angry Birds. Natch!
“But,” I asked him, “Don’t you ever use the Internet? How are you going to get to that?” He told me he could just search for it, and then proceeded to show me how you can use the global search to confine a query to the web. I had never noticed that feature before, though I’ve grown accustomed to using global search to find contacts, apps and songs.
My mind thinks of the browser as the starting place for displaying web sites, whereas the browser-as-entry-point for him isn’t as relevant. This reminds me of a video I saw a couple years ago where people were explaining what they thought a browser was, mostly equating it with a search engine, primarily Google. Though far from scientific, the interviewers found that only 8% of people they asked in Times Square could accurately explain what a browser was.
When designing, always remember: you are not the user, and take any chance you have to get users involved in your design process.

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Molly Malsam

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