A User Experience Is Like A First Date

My last post focused on understanding what UX is and isn’t, and offered several resources for further reading. This post follows up on that with a link to another resource worth exploring if you would like to expand your understanding of UX and in particular the importance of design in creating a great user experience. Jesse James Garrett, president and co-founder of the design firm Adaptive Path, recorded an interview about UX that is available at the blog Tea With Teresa. The podcast lasts about 20 minutes and is well worth listening to. Garrett is one of the leading experts in the field of UX design.

He describes himself as an information architect, and he shares how he became interested in user experience design. We all engage in experiences throughout our lives – every day. An experience occurs when we interact with a product, technology or service. It’s all around us. But do the products, technologies and services work for us in a way the improves the quality of the experience? That’s what most interests Garrett. He says that UX is about designing products and services in a way that takes into account the psychological and behavioral needs of the end-user. If we aren’t paying attention to this the experience we offer can be a dismal one. We need to, Garrett tells us, put the human elements first in the design process.

I certainly enjoyed his use of the first date analogy. It’s something we need to pay attention to in our libraries, and perhaps we should ask ourselves if our students and community members would have a second date with our libraries. On the first date individuals have a set of expectations for what they want to get out of the date and the experience. They expect someone will treat them well, take an interest in what they have to say and treat them respectfully. If these expectations are not met the chances for a second date are slim or non-existant. Our users have a similar relationship with our services, and building a good one requires a design that incorporates an understanding of the person with who we want to have that second date.

Garrett is entertaining and easy to listen to, so even if you usually avoid podcasts I think you’ll find this one of value. What I take away from it is the importance of constantly working and reminding myself that I need to get out of my own paradigm for how the world operates and the way things should work, and that I need to pay attention to my user community so that I can comprehend their expectations and perspectives on the library experience we must offer. Thanks to Garrett and his insights I just might get that second date.

Author: StevenB

Steven Bell is currently Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University, and was previously Director of the Library at Philadelphia University. Steven is the author of two regular columns published by Library Journal, From the Bell Tower and Leading From the Library. With John Shank he is co-founder of the Blended Librarians Online Learning Community. Bell and Shank are also authors of the book Academic Librarianship by Design. Bell's latest book is Crucible Moments: Inspiring Library Leadership. More information is found at his website.

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