Products around us are becoming smarter and smarter each day as the IoT trend has became a real epidemic; objects become connected and inter-connected and even an everyday product such as tooth brush has been given the ability to collect data and to become a part of our smart product grid. Besides being smart and connected, the one thing in common among all those objects is the presence of a new interfaces, and designing them well is one of the major challenges we face as product people. Here are 5 tips that might assist you to approach the holy grail of the user centered design much easier.
It’s like a joke
We’re not the first to use this metaphor, but you do not explain interfaces. Your user must understand the basic features in no time and experience no frustration or misunderstanding when using a product for the first time. Apple’s crown is a fantastic example of being crystal clear and straight forward and engaging the user in no time. Too many buttons? no feedback? Need to check in the user manual? you’re doing it all wrong.
Functionality before styling
Product designers are often find themselves focused on the form of the product ,designing every millimeter of its surface and examining every curve. The consequence of this approach is that sometimes the interface – a major part of the product’s functionality – is left behind and being examined only when the styling is quite finished. Remember that for the average Joe the UX means a lot more than a 0.25 or 0.5 fillet and you really want do be very clear with the product’s functionality before you even begin the physical design.
Validate and iterate
A physical interface may seem like a simple task but in fact it’s everything but that. If we’re going to use simple flow charts and skip basic user testing we might end up doing critical mistakes like the on/off button of the Lenovo laptops (which makes you put your laptop into sleep mode every time you lift it). A good interface must be carefully designed, then tested, iterated, redesigned, AB tested and determined only after your whole team can see it is clear, simple and intuitive.
Digital vs Physical
When do you want to use the product’s screen and when it would be better to use a physical interface? the balance is very gentle as you don’t want you product do become a mini smartphone from one hand and don’t want it to feel to basic from another. The answer usually lays in doing a good prioritization and a proper user screening to understand the core of the product’s usage scenario and design accordingly.
Inventing radical interfaces is one of the most interesting challenges a product team can face but when we’re designing a product for a specific market we don’t want to go too far from existing usage conventions that people are already familiar with. spearing our user one or two clicks can make a huge difference (Ask Instagram) and it’s often wise to improve and refine existing conventions rather than inventing new ones. You don’t want to educate you users, you want them to use your product.
There are almost no products without an interface in the world we live in, and those interfaces are in a way represent the communication and the language we speak with our products and services. We want to be understood, we want a proper feedback and we really hate when we’re having “communication issues” with our products. We’re not married to them and we’re not going to make an effort to “communicate better”. Remember this while thinking about the interface of your next product.