Design best practices seem to change often, but they don’t get there without time and adoption. What’s new today could be an ingrained habit for how we interact with our products tomorrow.
In this series we seek to address some of the biggest questions facing digital experts today: What will the world of design be like in 2023? What’s to come in the future beyond this year? And more importantly, how will we get there?
Part 1 – Our tools may be AI and bots. But the end users are still human.
With incredible growth from emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, the future will shine bright, but we must not forget an important need as our technology evolves: design for humans, not users. The term “user” signifies an assumed entity, or more increasingly, a robot with intelligence.
By designing for humans, we ensure the future will be built on a foundation with empathy and compassion in mind, treating users as humans – humans with unique characteristics, personas and feelings, because that’s how humans are, each person with their own set of unique traits, behaviors, characteristics and emotions.
So what does the term “Designing for Humans” actually mean? As we see it, the term Designing for Humans is simple: create products, services and experiences that are easy and enjoyable to use. It’s about putting yourself in the shoes of the people using it. But putting this mentality into action is easier said than done.
Basics of design
Before getting started on designing for humans, we need to understand the basic meaning of design is. What is design?
A basic definition would be, design is the transfer of information in a simple, yet easy to understand manner. That’s what designing is all about; you as the designer, making it as easy as possible for the person consuming the product, service or experience to understand something. How do you make this transfer of information easy for a person? As we know, not every person thinks, feels and reacts the same. Before creating a design that is intended to convey information, we need to fully understand our audience, so that we can optimize the way in which we transfer that information to a unique set of people.
One of the biggest mistakes designers make is putting more emphasis on looks of a design rather than usability. Far too often we interact with designs like these; aesthetically appealing designs that break when met with real world interactions. This is not to say that designs should not look good. What we’re trying to say is that every design must strike a balance between looks and user experience.
A good looking design is always appreciated when met with an equally pleasurable usability and experience. Ultimately, this is the goal when designing and building for humans; create an experience that is as visually appealing as pleasurable to engage.
But this is not an easy task. Designers struggle with this balance daily, and often to achieve goals a sacrifice between these two must be made. But remember, not every problem has a balanced solution, and that’s where the term “designing for humans” comes into play. Whenever a conflict between these two present themselves, you must as the question “what would the user prefer more?”. And that’s again the basics of “designing for humans”; understanding the end consumer.