Their heyday in the 60’s and 70’s might be long gone, but our generation could still benefit from the wisdom of Messer’s Shatner and Nimoy. They did, after all teach us that human beings, be they male or female, are not the most logical of beasts. When faced with such dilemmas as saving one life at the risk of many, or exploring dangerous new planets rather than staying safely put on the Enterprise, we humans much to the distant of Spock, generally put our principles and ideals before cold hard logic.
In my humble opinion, that is exactly how things should be. A world driven by logic and simple ‘in-put/out-put’ is a hard world. We are not automatons, you can’t reduce us to bits and bites and if you did, where would the fun be in that?. So as designers, should we really seek to impose our logic on our fellow man and expect them to follow it without question? I would say no. One man’s logic is another man’s senseless stupidity. ‘Why on earth did they put that button there, of course it should be here’!
Without delving (unqualified as I am) into the field of quantum physics, many designers are thankfully coming to the multi-dimensional conclusion that ‘ours is not to reason why’.
With so many factors governing behavior and driving us to do the things we do the way we do them, designers can’t possibly legislate for them all. So the best way is to adopt a none-judgmental approach. It might not be right, it might not be logical, but it IS what our users (or at least the majority thereof) want, even if it is getting in the way of our neat and tidy UI.
This brings to mind another Trekkie gem; the Prime Directive, also known as the Non-Interference Directive.
What, I ask you, is the point of creating a user testing environment in which designers coach or otherwise interfere with their users? In much the same way as Captain Kirk was forbidden to influence the culture of any alien’s he might come across (although I as recall, he did rather a lot of ‘interfering’!) designers should not lead their users, they should merely observe and calmly note down where users stop, struggle, or even lose their temper.
By offering prompts, no matter how gentle or well intention-ed, designers are skewing the outcome of the test. If a user, defeated by an interface loses patience and gives up, that is what should be observed. Obviously before the test can continue, assistance may be required, however understanding the exact nature of the issue before providing a solution is fundamental to later creating a successful design, not to mention any associated prompts or training that might be required.
If we are moving into brand new territory and have an shiny new concept to bring to market, then the entire universe is our oyster. We have the opportunity to actually become the de-factor standard, to be a trail blazer unshackled by pre-existing expectations. That is when design has the luxury to go wild, look outwards and achieve something altogether new. But still, at some point, there is a need to come back down to earth and a little reality check can go a long way in helping budgets be spent wisely.
About the design contributor: Nicola Wilson is a mommy blogger from the UK, she is currently working for Alight part time whilst running a family and looking after her children. Nicola has a huge interest in home design and decor.
So before you go jetting boldly off anywhere, pants on the outside (oops, sorry, wrong film), at some point remember that your ‘logic’ will have to be explained, possibly in words of one syllable and using lots of hand gestures to people who may find your ideas not just merely alien, but actually downright weird!