UX wish list for 2010

With the new year upon us, instead of looking backwards to where we were with usability and user experience design, I prefer to look into the future. Upon reflection of past 10 years in which I have been working in the field, user experience has progressed in leaps and bounds. The list below is short and sweet as it identifies what I hope will continue to progress over the next year with usability and interaction design.

Wish 1: Consider context of use with mobile design

Mobile is hotter than ever. In North America, the mobile carriers have been making the access to the web on mobile devices easier for the customers to swallow with more reasonable plans. With this growing customer segment, companies are starting to understand the value of a mobile presence. What they often forget is one of the most important rules of mobile design—Context of Use.

Mobile Context Model (Source: Giant Ant)
Mobile Context Model (Source: Giant Ant)

My wish for 2010 is that mobile designers think about how and when users are going to be accessing these sites. They should be asking themselves: ‘What information is important to them?’, ‘What do users want to do with your site on their mobile?’, ‘Where will they be accessing your site – on the bus, at home, in a restaurant?’ By starting to think about these key questions, the usability of mobile sites will start to improve.

Wish 2: Design for the end-to-end experience. Think about the whole experience.

At the end of the day, we are designing experiences. A website, a mobile device, a print piece is all part of a complete experience end-to-end solution for the customer. Customers don’t think of all of these pieces in isolation, they see it as all the same experience with one brand. When one piece of the experience doesn’t exactly flow with the other pieces, customers are often left to their own to work their way through it and figure things out. Often this translates into both usability issues as well as a decrease in brand perception. Apple is an example of a great end to end experience. Their in-store experience, their online experience, their device experience down to their out-of-box experience, there is a universal thread that guides their customers. This leaves their customers with an experience that is satisfying, and easy to understand.

Diagram saying end to end solution in the middle with 4 circles in blue saying Web, Promo, Print, and Media

My wish for 2010 is that designers and clients care more about the whole end to end experience. Even if we are just tasked to look at one slice of the end to end experience, an understanding needs to be gained of what the whole experience is. This way we can ensure that we are creating compelling experiences which allow customers to flow seamlessly through.

Two simple wishes for the year 2010. Both wishes keep the user at the heart of the design process by thinking about when and how they will interact the design. If these come true for 2010, we will begin to see more innovative experiences emerge.