As we complete our first week of classes, several key points have stuck out to me, namely revolving around our class discussions, chapter one of Don Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things," and chapter two of Jesse James Garrett's "The Elements of User Experience." Our class discussions were an insightful look into who my cohorts will be for this program, as well as their backgrounds and future career aspirations. I feel lucky to be able to share a classroom with a group of such accomplished critical thinkers. There seems to be a well-rounded mix of traditional and non-traditional user experience practitioners, which will bode well for discussion and collaboration.
Good design is much less obvious than bad design, (Norman, 2013) often because when design fits into our life easily and efficiently, it becomes part of our daily experience, without the user having to give much thought to manipulating the device to suit their needs. Bad design, however, can cause disruption at best, and chaos at its worst, requiring complicated and multi-faceted workarounds to perform a simple task.
Good design is not just about the site appearing aesthetically pleasing, despite UX being mistakenly synonymous with UI, interface, and visual design. UX is much more than a pretty face - it is about understanding the user and their information seeking behavior, consistent and thorough usability testing, and making sure your site is structurally sound, not just visually appealing. Garrett (2011) discusses the importance of quality content, and the ability for users to find and use that content. Users do not visit a site to experience the "joy of navigation" (Garrett, 2011), but they will be turned away by the inability to find what they came searching for. It is imperative to consider how the content will be cataloged, tagged, and indexed appropriately for improved search results.
Garrett, J. J. (2011). The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.
Norman, D. A. (2013). The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books.