Good Design: Part 2 – The User Experience

by Eric Tsai

Now let’s move into the second important element of good design: The User Experience (UX).

After the framework is laid out, the next step is to orchestrate a path to the user experience. Design variables and objectives can be predefined in many ways, but fundamentally it must connect with the user to form the optimal experience. It’s what makes you say words like, amazing, slick, beautiful, scary, sexy, fun, annoy, loud, obnoxious, or cheap. Words that attempts to describe the experience and just like a picture it’ll never be the exact description.

In order to deliver the best user experience, everything goes back to the framework of knowing who you’re targeting and if you know your market.  Obviously people have different views and opinions, which is why design can be very subjective from one person’s view to another.

For example, (continuing my car theme) someone that likes sports cars may or may not care about the 0-60 mph acceleration speed, he or she may simply enjoy the exterior look and interior design.  On the other end, that same person may have a big family and will need another car that addresses the need of transporting a big family from soccer games to grandma’s house.

So if a automobile manufacturer is to develop a new “affordable” sport car that looks nice but is mediocre in acceleration they are in effect targeting the people that cares more about the look and would preferred to allow that experience to dictate their buying decision.  This car may look fast and sporty but it may not have the most comfortable ride or enough space for utility.  This is why it’s important to now only know your customers, but also know how to market and cater to their personality. Checkout the chart below you will find that Toyota has covered three demographics with three brands to maximize their market share


So how is that related to user experience?  Well, if you know who you’re aiming for you can then focus on those specific areas to engage the interaction to impact the user perceptions resulting in a desirable outcome.  Depending on the purpose of the product, in my example I used cars but if it was clothing, it’s style as well as gender, location, ethnics, age, income brackets, and so on.  It’s always a good to start with analytical data then develop the target groups for each design.

If you know who you’re selling the idea (design) to, it simply comes down to the creation of the information architecture by utilizing as much data as possible to address and integrate all user-facing aspects of the experience from visual to emotion that are needed to connect the user to the design.

It should be noted that no design is timelessly perfect, it can be the best solution for a specific period of time then turns into a classic, or it could just be a short term trend.  The idea is that with every revision, the next generation  should improve the overall usability and experience from the last. Thus the reason why the latest car model will usually retain the good elements of the previous generation completely or attempt to improve upon its success. It is a continueous living proecess that designers embrace as a challenge to come up with better designs again and again.