Process / April 2016

Four Human Behaviors That Drive UI/UX Design

Think about your favorite restaurant. What makes it your favorite? Sure, the food is good, but lots of places have good food. Maybe it’s the friendly waitstaff, or the fact that your food is always ready so quickly. It might be little things like the decor or the music they play. Maybe you just like that it’s conveniently located on your way home from work. “Serving good food” is the starting point, but if you think deeper, there are many factors which make the dining experience better. You just have to go beyond the basic function.

Websites and interactive exhibits are the same. When you build a website that visitors want to explore, rather than one that just provides basic information, they connect with your museum, and they want to come back. That’s the very basis of User Experience design.

In order to accomplish this, you need to think about the ways people interact with the technology they use. Domino’s Pizza recently unveiled a “Zero-Click Ordering” app which allowed users to order their favorite pre-set pizzas for delivery delivery the instant they open the application on their mobile device. When they unveiled it, it took the internet about 30 seconds to see the flaw in their plan:

This is what happens when designers don’t consider how people actually work.

Good design starts with thinking about how people behave and what they are able to do.

Here are Four Human Behaviors That Drive UI/UX Design:

1: People are Social.

Despite claims that technology is pushing people into isolation, humans are social creatures. When we discover a new tool or idea, we instinctively want to share it with others. Whether it’s through live-streams or screen-shares, people are looking for ways to use technology together. Even a simple but well-placed “share” feature attracts users who want their friends to know what kind of progress they’ve made, or what new functions they’ve discovered.

Does your website do everything it can to allow social usage? Have you thought of ways people can share your tech with others? Even if you’re just allowing users to show off their new toy, implementing social interaction can make a world of difference in how fun or useful the user finds it.

2: People Make Mistakes

One of the greatest achievements in tech design history was the creation of the “undo” feature. By pressing a button, users could easily eliminate errors, freeing them to get more creative and make a few more mistakes in the process of finally finding what works. Because someone had the foresight to install a fail-safe, people’s fears of screwing up are assuaged.

Good user experience design works the same way. Consider how difficult it is for a user to find their way back if they go down the wrong path on your website. WaWa, the deli and convenience store of choice for Philadelphians, has touchscreen order kiosks which allow users to go back and adjust their order without having to cancel and start all over again. If they didn’t, ordering a hoagie (or “sub” for the rest of the country) would be frustrating and drive people away. That’s good design.

Another thing to consider is how simplified your software is to begin with. How do you help users avoid mistakes altogether? Breaking down options into smaller and easier commands (like having different screens for meat, bread, cheese, and condiments) is one way to reduce human error. A little consideration can make the difference between functional software and friendly software.

3: People Are Curious

The old rules of print design dictated that most reading happened “above the fold”, meaning “in the top half of a newspaper before it folds over.” People are used to these old rules and we often get questions about how to fit more information “above the fold” on a website. But the old logic doesn’t necessarily apply to digital design.

Lots of research has gone into this, and if you give someone a reason to scroll down, they will. The responsibility is on us as designers to tap into natural human curiosity. What makes your users interested, and how will you cue them to continue further? The usefulness of scrolling cues varies based on your audience, so having a design team that’s clued into your audience’s needs is key.

Simply put: To make human curiosity work for you, you need to know what your audience is curious about. That’s what the UI/UX research and interview process is for.

4: People Like Patterns

Visuals and aesthetics are a key part of user design. If users don’t like what they see, they will find ways to avoid looking at it. But users are also unconsciously looking for visual patterns in software they use. Users want internal consistency; they like it when visual elements that go together are grouped similarly. More than that, if the link for tickets isn’t located where the user instinctively feels it should be, it’s a frustrating waste of time to find it. Instilling clear visual patterns and pathways make the user more comfortable. People are attracted to patterns, and attractive things work better.

Want to learn more? Check out our workshops