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Meeting Recap: User Experience 101
2011, Q1 (March 29, 2011)
Meeting Recap
  • What: User Experience 101
  • When: February 17, 2011

Christina Eftekhar
Christina Eftekhar
by Christina Eftekhar, Carolina Chapter Member

Understanding what the user wants and needs, as well as how they think, is important to many companies that strive to focus on their end users.

Abe Crystal, co-owner of More Better Labs, presented how technical writers can leverage user design techniques to help improve the usability and effectiveness of their products.

Abe helped participants vocalize why some websites were usable or not; he then gave techniques on how to fix usability issues, or prevent them in the first place.

Abe's three-tiered approach to usability solutions includes:
  • Strategy
  • Research
  • Design

Strategy is about Focus

Before you can test your usable product, you must first define a strategy. Many technical writers are experienced in user and task analysis, but Abe knows that usability problems arise from focusing on the wrong problems. Yes, usability is about the user's perception and what they see as effective, but a true user experience "moves beyond task efficiency and into fun."

Take a fresh look at the problem, not just the solution.

Research is about Empathy

Empathy is a powerful emotion that helps the researchers connect with and understand their customers. It helps to humanize the customers: use names (instead of generic user profiles) whenever possible.

During the research phase, it is also important to define your company's or product's "key experience principles," which are concise and memorable guidelines. It may help to say no to the all but the most critical features at first. Research is iterative refinement: you are constantly fine-tuning the features your users want and need.

Design is about Clarity

Design is not about aesthetics. Good design is unobtrusive; a user must perform tasks (or just have fun) without distractions. Clarify every design element's purpose so that the user can achieve theirs.

Christina can be reached at c dot s dot eftekhar at gmail dot com. End of article.

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