UX DESIGN LESSONS - Week 1
User-Centered Design is a new area of intrigue for me. Whether I am building a website for a client of producing a new song, user-centered design is still at the heart of my project. During my first week of readings for my class titled, “Understanding Your Audience”, I was provided with some excellent articles and chapter readings explaining the usefulness of developing “Personas” as a tool to keep key stakeholders and end-users at the top of the executives’ minds during planning. If you are providing a service or selling a product, having a firm understanding of your audience and your consumers’ needs are essential. Personas, you could say, are like info cards that organizations can use to get a snapshot of their key stakeholders.
Typically, research and analysis are done ahead of time to gather as much information as possible about one’s audience. That information is then crafted into different “personas”. There are times when you may have to use your best guess to come up with these different personas if the initial research has not been conducted yet. These types of personas are not as accurate, but can be refined over time as more brainstorming and information has been applied.
I definitely can’t talk about my first we of “understanding my audience” without mentioning mental models and conceptual models! Mental models and conceptual models go hand-in-hand. There are the endless versions of mental models that each user formulates in their head when approaching a new or unfamiliar piece of technology, and there are the varying conceptual models that are native to any particular device or operating system. Bridging that gap between the mental and the conceptual is the key – the art (and there say, the heart) – of UX design! Matching reality with expectations is not an easy task however. Especially from a design standpoint. Designers typically know too much about the conceptual models so they tend to lack a certain level of perspective when it comes to putting themselves in the end-user’s shoes trying to navigate the interface of a device or an app. This is why research is so essential when it comes to UX design. The more data we can get on how a user interfaces with our products and how easy or difficult it is for them to adapt their mental models to our conceptual models, the more we are able to make the improvements necessary to heighted the user experience overall!
I’m pretty sure I will be referring back to mental models and conceptual models throughout the next couple of weeks for my blog posts. My goal is to be able to properly apply the discipline of UX Design across the board but first I need to gain a better understanding of what it means to be a true UX Designer. Till next time!
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