The value of treating humans like humans in UX design

When opening a new interface for the first time, what would you as a user prefer to see: a UI that is deeply complex and will take some time to adapt to, or one that you can immediately see is tailored to you, your problems, and is immediately adaptable? For most people, we can imagine the answer is clearly the latter.

The value of treating humans like humans in UX design

The work that UX designers put into their craft concerns itself with aspects that are more than merely technological. Humans with inherently tangible feelings and emotions would not respond well to a robotic user experience that feels unintuitive and unwelcoming.

It could be built with the highest level of technical expertise, but a service that is unable to appeal and empathise with its users on a personal level may as well be deemed worthless by its userbase, diminishing any potential positive returns.

Based off this, we realise that a UX designer cannot adequately design for humans without an understanding of what appeals to our senses, as well as what makes us human. It might be a truly philosophical point to ponder on in the midst of your workday, but it has to be asked in the pursuit of a quality user experience! Here’s a few different avenues you can explore to add the human touch to your UX design.

Designing the bridge for those who are crossing it

Even though there is no direct interaction between the UX designer and the user, humans still like to feel like they’re interacting with another human on a personable scale. Providing a service with a cold and clinical UX makes it much more difficult to market – no one wants a UX that feels like it’s been randomly generated by an AI pretending to be a human!

In the words of Dr. Prabhjot Singh, Director of Systems Design at the Earth Institute,

“We spend a lot of time designing the bridge, but not enough time thinking about the people who are crossing it”.

Therefore, having an empathetic mindset is potentially the most vital skill to possess in UX design: incorporating genuine thought for the user into the design provides the ability to foster a tangible connection between service and user, breaking down barriers to create a genuinely effective UX.  

Personas, narratives, problems and solutions

Another innately human aspect that UX designers should connect with is the ability to effectively present the story that the service aims to convey to its users. Storytelling creates engaging narratives and emotional cruxes that assist with captivating your potential userbase and getting them invested into what your service aims to provide.  

If empathy skills touch upon your users’ emotions, storytelling touches upon their needs and motivations. Using comprehensive storytelling skills paired with data on your users and their needs, you can prove what their service is able to provide and exactly how they can add value for the user with it. Your user data allows for personas, narratives, problems, and solutions (your product!) to become fully fleshed out for the user’s benefit.

Appealing to the visual senses

This may seem like an obvious option, but the vital importance of attractive visual aesthetics to the human mind cannot be understated. Essentially, nice colours and pretty picture make the brain feel good!

Okay, it’s a little bit more complex than that, but UX aesthetics are inherently valuable in their role to convey messaging in a more immediate manner than blocks of text. Certain colours and effective imagery can elicit immediate reactions from an audience, and the best UX designers know exactly the right ones to use to push the right buttons in their audience’s minds.

Whilst human nature can be comprised of beautiful things like empathy and storytelling, it’s also at times made up of impatience and frustration. We’re all prone to occasionally skimming through paragraphs of text on websites and leaving ourselves vulnerable to missing out on the wider picture – you’re obviously unable to relate while reading this article, but you get the idea!

So, to combat this one aspect of human nature, it’s beneficial to be able to incorporate imagery and colours into your UX design. Not just any imagery or colour however, as the real skill to benefit from is the recognition of what works in the right context and for the right userbase. As you develop these skills and become a UX visual aesthetic mastermind, you’ll learn that a picture can be worth a thousand words after all!

All in all, it’s undeniable that viewing the process of UX design through a solely technical framework is only getting half of what makes a high-quality UX. At the end of the day, don’t humans just want to be treated like humans, even when interacting with computers?  

Approaching UX design with an empathy-tinged touch, incorporating beneficial storytelling and effective visual aesthetics, allows for the user to genuinely connect with what you offer on a deeper level. To truly make the most of your UX design, aim to help the user feel more than merely ‘just’ a user, and appeal to what is inherently human about them – their emotions, needs, values, motivations are all waiting for you to tap into.

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