Ten Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design

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I’ve been continuing my research into user experience and interaction design. I stumbled on this really great presentation on SlideShare by Whitney Hess – 10 Most Common Misconceptions about User Experience Design. She makes points about user experience design that instructional designers could learn from. I’m taking the liberty to reproduce and rehash the points she raises from an eLearning perspective.

  1. User Experience Design is not User Interface Design – Yes, it’s not really about the user interface at all. In typical elearning, it’s the content player window that offers basic navigation and interaction. Designers spend a lot of time on the interface and visual appeal of the player. It’s important to understand that a visually pleasing and well designed interface does not equate to a pleasing user experience. Focus on the experience and NOT the individual components of the user interface.
  2. User Experience Design is not a step in the process – Whitney makes a crucial point with this one. User experience design is not something that’s a part of the process; rather the entire process must be modeled around the design of the experience. Contrasted with typical elearning development, this is the total opposite.  Current eLearning development processes revolve around instructional outcomes and meeting those with solutions that use technology and content; there is NO or rare focus around designing experiences. Inverting this to purpose content and technology to provide an experience is a better way to look at it.
  3. User Experience Design is not just about technology – In eLearning, both content and technology is used to provide the learning experience. It goes without saying that for the learning to effective, proper attention to design, the use of content and associated technology must blend smoothly. Focusing on just one of these detracts from the learning experience.
  4. User Experience Design is not just about usability – eLearning has to be usable if humans are expected to learn from it. It’s almost impossible to learn something if during the experience, you find the content hard to access and tools difficult to use. While usability is important, user experience design is not about making your solution more usable. Usability matters of course, to the extent that it supports or to some extent even enhances the experience. Think of it this way, you can create an imminently usable learning solution, but it’s useless without offering a good learning experience.
  5. User Experience Design is not just about the user – For learning designers, they aren’t just users – they are learners.  Trained instructional designers spend substantial periods of time understanding and designing for the learner. It’d also help if the designers of the learning experience spent some time understanding the technology that delivers the experience. User experience design involves balancing all aspects required to provide a quality learning experience.
  6. User Experience Design is not expensive – I don’t know quite what to make of this misconception, except to agree that its one. A similar construct applies to learning experience design as well. Good learning experiences aren’t expensive to develop, what they require is careful attention to design, choice of media and delivery technology. Over time, I’ve found you can create great learning experiences on a budget.
  7. User Experience Design is not easy – One could go so far as to say nothing is easy. That doesn’t imply that we stop ‘designing experiences’ because of the difficulty and challenges involved. Creating effective learning experiences demands that we consider the requirements to do so before embarking on the development process.
  8. User Experience Design is not the role of one person or department – Pretty much the same applies to the design of learning experiences. It’s never the role of a single person or department; varied cross- functional teams are required to design and develop a quality learning experience. It’s unrealistic to expect instructional designers to take ownership of the learning experience. While, I agree they do drive the design of the experience. The actual design and creation is still left to the development team; creating good user experiences is about teamwork, cross functional competence, and a clear vision of the learner experience sought to be delivered.
  9. User Experience Design is not a single discipline – This is my personal favorite amongst the ten. User experience design and similarly learning experience design aren’t something easily done. Just like the design of games, the design of learning experiences is part philosophy, part skills and part technique. Good learning experience designers draw from a variety of disciplines – instructional design, information architecture, interaction design, visual design, communication design, game design, industrial design, media design and other such. To be able to deliver a quality learning experience, individuals or teams need to be skilled across such a variety of domains.
  10. User Experience Design is not a choice – yes, this applies equally well to learning experience design as well. Oftentimes, the delivery of a quality learning experience takes a backseat to meeting the ‘instructional outcomes’ or ‘technology limitations’ or ‘budgetary limitations’ or even ‘deadlines and go-live dates’ on occasion. This should never really be the case, regardless of the limitations and constraints, the designer should still be focused around creating and delivering a quality learning experience. In doing so, (focusing on delivery quality learning) learning experience design takes precedence and becomes a natural part of the learning design and development process.

Take the time to look at the original presentation, its great and include lots of great graphics that could give learning designers loads of ideas about the way design the learning experience.

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