Here’s a question you may be asking: How the hell can I stand out in a world that’s ruthlessly competing for my customer’s attention? Well, you might need to thaw out Walt Disney to get the answer.
Way back in the 1930s and 40s, Walt and Team created magical, immersive, and near-perfect user experiences (UX), including the creation of Disneyland, which is a stroke of UX genius not only in its physical design, but in the way it evokes a sense of childlike wonder in kids and adults alike. The guidelines that Disney left for his ‘Imagineers’ (think engineers, but more fun) are still followed today: know your audience, put yourself in your guests’ shoes, and communicate using colour, shape, form, and texture.
As Disney discovered, your brand will stand out from the crowd by rewarding users with a fun, easy, and natural-feeling user experience. However, the keystone to building your brand community is when that experience is universally shared.
With Disney making his mark in 1966 and the pseudoscience of Feng Shui dating all the way back to 4000BC, it’s clear the concept of User Experience and the importance of a solid User Interface (UI) are not new. But with the emergence of digital-based design and the rapid evolution of technology, it is important to get a solid grip on some fundamentals.
The boundary between UX and UI designers is often blurred because the two roles work together so closely. Think of it as a relationship of opposites working hand in hand. UX designers are all about emotion and warm fuzzy feelings, while UI designers are logical and action-oriented. It’s common for the positions to be combined into one role, but there are defining characteristics that set them apart.
User Experience (UX) encompasses everything to do with the way the user interacts with the system/product.
It is the point of contact between the human and the system. When designing UX you must take into consideration the ‘feeling’ that the design will give the user. The broad responsibility of a UX designer is to ensure that the product logically flows from one step to another. Just as Disney evokes excitement and wonder, you need to determine what you want your audience to feel when interacting with your brand.
User Interface (UI) takes that warm fuzzy feeling and makes it work.
It focuses on laying out the piece logically and determining the best way to optimize it for practical use. When designing UI, you are taking the desired outcome created by the UX designer and creating the physical framework. UI designers are also responsible for maintaining visual cohesion between different the products, executions, and platforms that are under their brand’s umbrella.
Why is UX Important?
Without effective UX and UI, people aren’t likely to pick up what you’re putting down. The key to your product being successful is to ensure your users have a seamless, frictionless experience that makes their lives easier. Nowadays, humans have come to expect flawless UX as a basic requirement and understanding why/how your customers interact with your brand will help you optimize future efforts.
Who should use it?
Everybody and they mama. Internally, it’s important for everyone working with your brand to be involved in the development of it’s UX; this will help build continuity across all platforms and ensure that users are experiencing the same connection. When all members of your team have the same understanding of the intended emotion the execution becomes flawless.
How to use it?
Your product is made to serve a purpose for your customer: be it a website, mobile app, or pamphlet. How something works should be discussed every step of the way. Think of the connection and experience you want users to have with your company (happy, surprised, trusting, etc.), and build something that shares that same feeling with all users. Once you’ve done this, ask yourself some fundamental questions:
- How does the UX convey your brand message?
- Do the tools work as expected with the correct outcome?
- How do your users feel about the overall experience?
- How does it compare to your competitors?
Disney not only builds individual worlds, but also connects stories to create relationships between multiple audiences, ultimately immersing fans into, as Aladdin said, a whole new world. Joseph Dickerson outlines Disney’s guiding principles in his article for UX Magazine. Micky’s Ten Commandments should be used by anyone approaching User Experience Design. Here it is:
- Let people drive. Give them a sense of control at all times.
- Focus them. Keep their attention focused on the experience at hand by eliminating unnecessary distractions.
- Stick to their tasks. Support their goals, expectations and actions.
- Protect them from errors. Offer an obvious safety net and lots of hand-holding.
- Give them consistency. Keep all wayfinding, visual elements and ways to act consistent.
- Keep it simple. Design for user expectation. Remove, reduce, combine.
- Speak their language. Use terms your audience understands. Be ruthless about eliminating jargon.
- Help them when they’re lost. Make sure global and local navigation support and reinforce each other.
- Make special moments. Create a unique experience that people cannot get anywhere else – and making special moments will result in happy and repeat customers.
- Innovate and take risks. Where can you innovate your design work? What new ideas or interactions can you bring to the table? Take the risk and try it out!
How do we use it at Blade?
At Blade, we incorporate UI and UX design into everything we do. We recently re-designed the Benzagel Canada website to help create a direct path for visitors looking to purchase. Reducing the steps users take to reach their end goal helps keep them engaged and focused on the product offerings, benefiting not just the shared experience with the online platform, but with the overall brand.
When it comes to print design, ensuring the reader can experience a tactile piece the way it is intended is just as important as navigating through multilayers in a website. Using visual cues helps seamlessly guide the consumer’s eyes through a piece as it was intended. Combine that with the visual branding established across other mediums, and the piece becomes an extension of the brand’s overall user experience.
When developing brochures for the start-up multi-level marketing company Esprita, we were tasked with providing the user with a handy business-starting tool. Through the use of typography (headers, kickers, indentation), colours, and ruled lines, we gave readers easy-to-understand cues, providing them with a seamless, practical print piece.
With technological advances like voice tech, VR, and no-interface-design, tomorrow’s UX/UI designers will need to conquer new feats that, like their predecessors, will pave the way for a brand-new future of design.