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UX Principles & Best Practices

Instructor: David Gloag
Our reaction to things is very important, both to ourselves, and to the originators. In this lesson, we'll take a look at the area known as user experience, or UX, its principles, and some best practices.

The Draw of Experience

We live in a world where our experiences govern all. We want to enjoy the latest rendition of the play A Streetcar Named Desire; to be scared when we ride the rollercoaster, Leviathan, at Canada's Wonderland; to get teary eyes at the latest tragedy or feel-good film. We crave experience.

So is it any wonder that companies are trying to determine how we react to things, and how to control that reaction? Certainly not! For some, it can make or break their success. As a result, companies are investing a lot of time, and energy, into the area of user experience.

What Is User Experience?

User Experience (UX) refers to our responses to the events, actions, and situations we encounter during our daily lives. It can be as simple as the warmth we feel from an electric blanket, or complex like the varied sensations we experience from a professionally prepared, multi-course meal. It is also important to note that they can be both positive and negative depending on the situation.

These experiences cause us to ask ourselves a number of questions. For example, was the blanket the right temperature? Was the temperature consistent throughout the night? Was the meal tasty? Was the service fast and friendly? These questions, and the resulting answers, describe how these things went. In other words, our user experience.

Principles

There are a number of user experience principles depending on who you talk to, and they are related to each other to varying degrees. However, they can be summarized by the following five:

  • Be Relevant - know your market and meet their demand. You wouldn't put a lot of effort into a mobile app that only worked on outdated models.
  • Be Relatable - users are people, treat them as such. For example, your cell phone fits comfortably in your hand, it has a bright screen that is easy to see, etc.
  • Be Leading - provide road signs so that the user knows where they are, and how the journey is progressing. For a cell phone, this would be the things like the ring tone, error messages, and input dialogs that appear.
  • Be Clear and Concise - don't complicate the experience, or distract the user from your goal. Screens on your cell phone, for example, tend to be focused on one activity. And when they are not, they reduce things down to an overview, or dashboard.
  • Be Focused - have a strong message, and stay on that message. Cell phones can do many things, but when they are phones, only phone information is displayed. When they are movie players, they only display the movie.

Best Practices

As you might imagine, best practices for user experience are related to the principles. Here is a summary:

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