Eachan's Space

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User Experience 101

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Before we tuck into the last post in this series let’s have a quick recap of the 6 principles:

1. Scalability

2. Maintainability

3. Quality

4. Security

5. Availability

6. User Experience

I believe these things are the basics of building highly scalable online systems and as I’ve said before the basics are what every team succeeds or fails on.

User experience is a little different to the rest of our principles because it’s largely subjective – the first 5 are about hard facts and actions, things you can use and measure but user experience is about how your customers actually feel about your application when it’s all said and done.  Given our customers are who we’re actually building these things for in the first place you could argue this is the most important principle of them all.

Now let’s look at how we’d express this as a basic user story:

As the CTO, I want to represent products that are intuitive to use and feel fast and fresh to our customers, So that no matter where our users are and what their connectivity is they enjoy a high performance site, As proven by appropriate and justifiable answers to the user experience questions.

Like yesterday with availability notice our “so that” clause talks again about the considerations necessary for a global product.  Repetition is the building block of human learning so if it’s important to you, you can never mention it too often.  Appropriate and justifiable are interesting in this context, if your product isn’t usable people just wont use it.  How about betas and prototypes?  You’ve got to think carefully about what appropriate means here too, you can probably afford to spend less time on snappy performance and super quick load times but users are a fickle bunch so you’d better not skimp on the UI’s look and feel – you wouldn’t want a perfectly good product chucked out at prototype just because the human condition is to judge the kitchen by the dining room…

When you’re aiming for the best possible user experience ask yourself:

  • Are user-facing error messages helpful and friendly?
  • How snappy does my UI feel?
  • How long does my page take to load?
  • How does my feature feel on lower spec machines?
  • How does my feature feel on low bandwidth connections?
  • Is my UI intuitive and uncluttered?
  • What do my end users think of my interface?

Get to know your customers and get to know what they like.


Written by Eachan

February 10, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Technical

Tagged with ,

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