Often times when designing a product or solution for a customer, in planning and concept development, we might consider the user experience to be one of two (or both) things:
- User feedback regarding their interaction with their technological environment/platforms
- The experience the user is likely to have with given technology based on various factors that contribute to delivering that technology to them; presentation, training, accessibility, necessity, intuitiveness, just to name a few.
These factors are not solely focused on the user and their role in the human – technology interaction process, but also their experience of dealing with us as solution providers. That is to say, the way in which we engage the experience and behaviour of the user is just as important to the delivery of new technology to them, as is developing our own understanding of a broader sense of human interfacing technology behaviour. UX is a colourful – pun intended – profession/skill to have within this industry. Sales pitches, demos and generally ‘wowing the crowd’ are a few of the ways in which UX-ers can deploy their unique set of skills to curve user behaviour and responsiveness in a positive direction, for the supplier especially.
Not all behavioural considerations with regards to technology are underpinned by the needs or requirements of a user, however. There are more general patterns of behaviour and characteristics within people, particularly in a working environment, that can be observed, to indicate how a user experiences [new] technology, including functionality and valued content that, at a base level, captures a user’s attention. The psychology of this attention can be broken down into a simplified pathology: the working mechanisms of perception as a reaction to stimulus, and how consistent the behaviour is that develops out of this. The stimulus mentioned are usually the most common ones when relating to technology; visual, auditory.
You’ve likely heard of, or experienced first-hand, the common types of attention in everyday life. The main three are identified as selective, divided and undivided. Through consistency of behavourial outcomes, or observing in a use case a consistent reaction to stimuli, we look to observe a ‘sustainability of attention or interest’ over an extended period of the time, even if repetition of an activity or a set of activities is involved. This means that the solution, or at very least, the awareness and training developed to sell a solution, should serve a goal of achieving sustainable attention.
How Can We Derive a Positive User Experience through Psychology?
Too much information equals lack of cognitive intake. From observation and general experience, a person’s attention, especially when captured within a session, a day or week, is a finite resource. Many other factors of an individual’s life can create a cocktail of emotions which makes people in general, unpredictable in a professional environment. The right amount of information, training and direct experience should be segmented based on a gauge of the audience’s attention. Including reflection exercises or on-the-spot feedback, especially in user training can give you a good measure of this. The mistake of cognitively overloading the user can be best seen when a series of options are present as viable routes to the desired solution or outcome. Too many options can, at worst, create confusion, an adversity to the solution and new technologies in general, and an overall messy user experience.
Psychology doesn’t have to be a full submersion into the human psyche, especially when it comes to understanding the user experience. Simple empathy can be a powerful tool to mitigate some of the aforementioned issues of attention and to prevent the cultivation of repeated adverse behaviour from users. When it boils down to the users, most scenarios in the way of behaviour and reaction have been seen and experienced before, irrespective of the technology being provided. Fundamentally, it is a human experience that [still] comes first before we look at bridging the user and the technology. For UX practitioners, tools are already in-place to achieve this such as user journey maps and story capturing,
There are new ideas still emerging around the discipline of user experience, ‘UX’. From my experience with it thus far, it presents a case that it could integrate very well with modern business analysis methodologies. It’s more than designing the solution, it’s solutions based on how we, the human element, are designed.