Love…the final frontier. Giving a straight definition of love is no easy task. “What is love?” Haddaway musically asked in the 1990s. “Baby, don’t hurt me” was the answer. Nothing definite there, so for the purposes of this post, we are going to treat ‘love’ as ‘liking something very much.’ Our main objective at Graphic Mint is to deliver good User Experience Design all of the time; design so good, that the end-user can’t help but love it.
But, what is love of a service or product? What is great User Experience Design? Seamus Byrne, our Director of User Experience says: “Good UX Design is when the user walks away with what he was expecting to achieve, or even better, more.” Similarly, Eoghan Hickey, our masterful web designer says: “Good UX Design is like all good design. When it’s done right, you hardly notice it. It’s a smooth and unobtrusive experience. When it’s done badly, it screams at you.” Julian Becerra, Director of Online Strategy, adds: “Good UX Design anticipates your current and next step before you do, presenting it in a clear, simply organised, aesthetically pleasing, and easily consumable manner.”
Julian brings out a crucial point: anticipating the user’s next step. How does a designer know that? Designers are not psychologists, yet they need to watch and understand human behaviour. The user’s experience is subjective, it can’t be precisely measured, yet there are proven ways of improving it. Design needs to remove any obstacles the user will face, and by doing this, it will create a feeling of ease and closure the user will sooner or later recognise and appreciate.
Achieving this is no easy task for the designer. In almost every case, success comes after a series of failures. Julian points out: “Without failure there can’t be success; it’s part of human nature. When you are a learning to walk as a baby, you have your first few falls before you get your act together and realise what you’re doing wrong. It is important to recognise problems and errors, as often as possible and the earlier the better.” As one wise man put it: “Success isn’t winning, success is failing and learning from that experience.”
That’s exactly the case of Finnish game developer, Roxio Entertainment. After years and dozens of so so games and commercial failures in an industry dominated by Japanese and American companies they finally hit a homerun with the worldwide success of Angry Birds, Seamus Byrne’s favorite game ever. The game, as you should know, is very simple, yet creating it took its creators literally years of experience to craft their talent into a hit.
Another product we love in Graphic Mint and use every single day is the online communication system known as Skype. “I love it, I don’t know what I would do without it. I love the way you can communicate with people, face to face, by voice, share documents, share your own screen, be in contact with many different places!” excitedly says Leticia Gallego, our newest designer. Chat messaging systems were very popular before Skype, yet this Swedish developed service nailed it in some way that set it apart from the others.
Eoghan has a website he really loves: bookdepository.co.uk. “There are no shipping costs, or addons which encourages you to spend. I love the little map of the world showing people shop live. It’s interesting to see what other countries are buying. It also adds a little personality, a feeling of human involvement, to the usually solitary act of shopping online.” So there you have it, going for that little touch of human involvement makes it much more worthwhile. Giving out great prices doesn’t hurt either!
If you ask someone what does s/he want in a product to make him/her love it – one might not know exactly what to say. It might be hard for him/her to express it, or just say generic things like pretty, sophisticated, cool, etc. One of the most important tasks in good User Experience Design is precisely figuring this out. So that’s why we love UX Design, it helps us build love ourselves. As designers, we can’t change the world all on our own, but we have set the guidelines to give our grain of salt to the cause.