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Fundamentals, for a better User Interaction

In the past couple of months, I read lots of online material on User Experience. The content varies from technologies supporting the best UX to emotional aspects behind a good UX. My understanding of UX, with the background of being developer is documented in my earlier blog: UI is not UX. How is that possible? The more I read these articles on UX, I find them repetitive and more generic. It’s more like repeating the need to follow the basic principles like truth, integrity and sincerity to lead a happy life. There is a need to reinforce these principles to advocate the right way to lead a life. However, when it comes across without actual practice it sounds superficial. As a keen developer, I find that content on UX is more tip of the iceberg. It is time for us to find the depths of it to realize the true ways to achieve the right UX. In this blog, I attempt to get a little deeper in terms of the solutions to address the users concerns. 

In my opinion, the fundamentals which drive the Human Computer (any technical device) Interaction are:

1. Technology

2. Understanding of the intended users’ behavior

3. Ingenuity

We need people who are adept at technologies related to the intended end-product. Technology is the tool which allows us to build beautiful, resourceful and responsive experience on the web. The Interaction of the users with the web device (changed from the old-age computer) results in the user experience. A builder with better skills at using the tools can build a product which will give a good experience for its users. However, it’s important to underline the word “can” as it’s never certain that it will always be the case. Since I am now in the SAP’s web world, we need developers good at the web technologies, namely: JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS. No options other than building our skillset in these technologies. 

Before we start preparing a presentation, we need to first understand the actual audience. It’s ideal to have diversity in the audience but we need set the limits. The key is to identify the types of the users which will use the product or the application. Categorize the types of users and then set the bars for the low (or minimum) levels of expectations from the users. For example, applications rolled out for generic public have to set a very low understanding of software from its users whereas enterprise applications can set a higher-minimum expectations in terms of knowledge of software.

Once we are able to identify the users and their types, we need to find the patterns available for similar situations. In my quest to understand user patterns, I stumbled (actually googled) on the site . It was interesting to see the amount of work performed in the documenting the UI patterns and designs to suit them. It is a cheat sheet which can be used while designing our UIs. But we need to careful as we may end up using a pattern which does not fit for problem. Usage of patterns works only when we use them in their relevant context.

Finally, following rules makes life simpler but it’s also true that rules are meant to be broken. The context is restricted to design and not for traffic rulesīŠ. We are always controlled by the recommendations from across the ecosystem but the best designs are ones which break these rules to create the sense of awe and surprise. Follow your gut and be creative. Use rules and recommendations which solve the problem rather than complicating it.  The best UX is when it’s Simple to use.

Yesterday, on my walk back from office I noticed a cart driven by a young boy. At the back of the dilapidated cart was a CD hung by a thread. It was used as a reflector. Ah! A brilliant piece of Ingenuity. It just made me contemplate on something which we are lacking. We are quick to blame on the software or request for the latest version as a prerequisite for a better solution. It’s no fun when we have all the tools to build the solution. Working within the limitations and still producing the best results is thrilling and exciting. It’s also the reason why we love stories where the underdogs win. Let us write our own stories within the limited space of software to create simpler yet exciting experience of the users.

“Practice what you preach and learn before you try to teach”.

Thank you for your time and as always welcome your feedback.

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