The ‘Experience’ in User Experience is a cumulative outcome of many different practices working in harmony. Everything from aesthetics, technology, psychology, and economics play an important role in creating the experience. User experience isn’t a characteristic unique to web. User experience is an attribute of every man-made creation that comes in contact with a human being through any one or more of our senses. Inspirations for effective UX can come from anywhere.
Many web professionals seek for inspirations only from within the web community. Typically referring to design, UX, or web related blogs or articles. But the truly enlightening and eye opening inspirations rarely come from design or UX blogs. You may acquire few useful tips and tricks but most design/ux articles remain somewhat shallow as far as true inspirations go. Articles that tout design trends or inspirations are typically a mere collection of examples that usually reflect publisher’s biases. When we confine ourselves to a very specific subject or discipline for inspirations it prevents us from seeing the larger universe. Quite often the great inspirations, useful insights, and knowledge comes form outside of web development circles.
The very nature as well as the definition of the word itself, User Experience or User Centered Design requires that we understand how human beings behave in a given circumstance. Therefore, UX or any web or design professional should not only be familiar with design and technology, but should also have a keen understanding of human behaviors. I’ve been an advocate of social behavior education for web professional for many years. Many of my colleagues in the profession agree that such knowledge and insight is a tremendous asset not only in relation to their careers but in every aspect of life in general.
I usually find the most intriguing and thought provoking moments when reading about social economics, social behavior, or marketing. I find that human behavior online is not an isolated event. How people behave online is very much interrelated to human behavior offline. Understanding human interactions in one area may reveal invaluable insights to how you can handle the interactions in another. Studies of how shoppers behave in supermarkets may provide answers to improving online experiences in some other industry. As long as we can read between the lines and discover the similarities and uncover the nature of what makes us humans tick from seemingly unrelated contexts, the sources of inspirations suddenly become infinitely abundant.
Time and time again, I stress that getting familiar with social behavior and psychology is indispensable for any web UX and design professional. Being able to deliver beautiful design is important but aesthetics is only one piece of the puzzle. Once we understand why people do the things they do, many user interaction and behavior problems will no longer be a mystery. As we start to gain more insight into the human mind it becomes easier to piece things together to create a true user centered experience.
Below are few recommended books:
The Signal And The Noise – Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t
Thinking Fast and Slow
How to Lie With Statistics