I can't speak for you, but as a designer, I see most things through the lens of my chosen profession. Whether it's noticing the signage at our local grocery store, seeing how a snack food is packaged and how it is different to other snack food brands, or observing real-life-ish Hollywood situations. I often consider how this information would be received from a general user's perspective. For example: I may ask myself questions like, does this delicious looking snack I’m holding in my hand at this very moment, tell the same story from the online description down to packaging and branding and on to the final product?
I want to answer that question, but the crunching sound and amazing spicy queso flavor are too much for clear thought.
Instead, let's dive into the movies now and we'll come back to the snack question later! I'll share 3 examples where the hero of the movie could have applied user experience principles to eliminate needless suffering.
The Sum of All Fears
Jack Ryan: This is Jack Ryan from the Russia desk.
Becker: Oh, how great. The Nemerov apologist.
Jack Ryan: Sir, this bomb was not Nemerov. I know this guy.
Becker: That's what you said after Grozny, Mr. Ryan. Put it in your report.
Jack Ryan: The plutonium came from...
[Becker hangs up]
A serious situation had developed and Jack Ryan had only seconds to tell Becker where the plutonium came from. Instead, in those critical few moments, He tells him two very unnecessary things. First, that he is at the Russia desk and secondly, that he knows Nemerov. Pft!
User Experience Lesson #1 Get to the point! Listen dear reader, the irony isn't lost on me that I'm writing this long-winded article to extol the virtues of getting to the point quickly, but just like Jack had precious little time to communicate important information, you have very little time ( 50 milliseconds ) to get your message across to your website audience. Don't meander! Express what you do and what you offer in the form of products or services immediately. Next time Jack, start the conversation by telling the man where the plutonium came from!
John F. Kennedy : Congratulations, how do you feel?
Forrest Gump : I gotta pee.
John F. Kennedy : [turning to camera] I believe he said he had to go pee. Heh heh.
Forrest drank fifteen Dr Peppers just before meeting the President of the United States. I get it. Dr Peppers are delicious and extra so when they are free, now if Forrest only knew that the average adult's bladder holds between 16-24 ozs of fluid and that by drinking fifteen 12-oz bottles of Dr. Pepper, Forrest would never make it. Consider how much needless suffering could have been avoided by, say, drinking one Dr. Pepper before the ceremony and waiting until later to down the other fourteen.
User Experience Lesson #2 Use data to make better decisions! If Forrest had understood the volume capacity of his bladder, he could have made a better decision. In our case, invest time and effort into understanding general user behaviors, and most ideally spend time understanding YOUR current user behaviors to make better decisions. Target your critical path workflows first. For example, if your website's primary purpose is to have your users register for an event, understand the registration process fully from your users’ perspective. Based on the different paths your users took to arrive at your website are the call to action (CTA) buttons text the same? Is the messaging around the CTA buttons the same, and is it clear and concise?
Jazira: The Indians of the West. You have seen their vanishing kind?
Frank T. Hopkins: I am their kind.
Prior to the great "Ocean of Fire" race in the middle east, Frank Hopkins was a lost soul, wandering from town to town as an expert horseman performing in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Being half Native American, this quote is Frank acknowledging where he came from and eventually finding his way "home".
User Experience Lesson #3 Continuously evaluate your navigation and wayfinding methods, especially when adding new or changing existing content. Just as Frank became lost in life, without clear paths your users can become lost. At the start of the design process, navigation is well-structured and organized, because each content element is evaluated to determine where it fits. Over time though, new content may become introduced that breaks the overall organizational structure. The development of content that doesn't exactly fit into the currently defined structure, disparate landing pages that show top level navigation, yet doesn't show where this page fits into that navigation structure, or content on the homepage that can't be found anywhere else on the site are examples of content that doesn't fit. For example, if creating a new marketing landing page, either establish where that page goes within your navigation or avoid showing the navigation all together. Make it easy for your users to know where they are and how to find their way back.
Of course the crunchy, queso flavored snack nailed it by being the most delicious food which I highly recommend! But for movie heroes and user interfaces, remember to apply these 3 user experience principles to your design to avoid needless suffering.
- Get to the point. Immediately give your users the information they need at the time they need it.
- Use data to make better, more informed decisions.
- Continuously evaluate your navigation and wayfinding methods when adding new content.