Just before the holidays, Hoekman’s article was a catalyst for an email string started amongst the researchers and designers of our UX group regarding the term ‘intuitive’. We often hear from clients that they would like us to create an ‘intuitive’ product but will simply stating ‘intuitive’ as a goal without guidelines get them there? Time and again the answer is ‘no’. “Intuitiveness is a quality, not an approach.” (Hoekman 2011)
A project that has a goal of producing an ‘intuitive’ product does nothing to help our designers. It is not tangible enough for them and “no matter how strong your jaw, you can’t sink your teeth into vapor and expect it to taste like Apple.” (Hoekman 2011). This goal surfaces in almost every initial client meeting as “I want a product that’s friendly, easy, simple, and intuitive” (Scott Plewes, VP of UX, Macadamian and author of How to Overhaul a UI Design Without Upsetting Users).
Does ‘intuitive’ mean walk-up-and-use? Or does it mean the system can be used easily with minimal training? Does ‘easy to use’ mean a task can be done within 30 seconds within minimal interaction? Does ‘simple’ mean the user is presented with minimal information at certain stages? Or, does ‘simple’ mean that complex tasks are broken down into smaller components, giving confidence to the user that they are not making any errors as they progress through their workflow?
In order to achieve the results that our clients want, we need to get specific with them. Designers have many, wonderful, amazing ideas but without reining them in (both the ideas and the designers!) we cannot get at the specific kind of design desired.
Design criteria needs to be set so the user experience is clear and decisions can be made to reach that type of experience. By spelling out attributes such as affordance, expectations, efficiency, responsiveness, forgiveness, and exportability, we get specific and support our clients of reaching their “intuitive UI” goal (McKay, 2010)
Finally, Hoekman suggests that guidelines for the product need to be actionable and measurable. These design guidelines should hint at a direction and support success metrics for the product. The researchers of our UX group strive to outline some of these guidelines by conducting a business and user requirements workshop with our clients. This workshop helps to define measurable results and really solidifies the project plan.
All these points need to be in the back of our mind; be specific, actionable and measurable. We also ensure that design principles like colour, contrast, placement, etc. play into the solution of an intuitive design. All of this combined together leads to creating a smart design that produces desirable outcomes for our clients.
About the Author
Anneliis Tosine is a User Experience Researcher in the UX Team at Macadamian. Anneliis’ background is in Biomedical Engineering with a focus on clinical applications and user-centered design.