Interactive design for all – 4. User

9 October, 2013

4. User

Following this series of “Interactive design for all”, I’d like to stop now and write about the user; the one that gives meaning to our interactive interface.

In this section I will explain what I think the user does with our interactive interface as well as the way he/she/it uses the connection terminal. Nowadays we have more than the basic framework; screen, keyboard and mouse. We are in an era of technological progress that allows user interaction in many different ways. I mean not only desktop computers or handsets, but also game consoles, information terminals, digital signage, and a long list of devices and means for the full user experience.

When designing a interactive interface we should brainstorm the purpose of each interaction in order to provide the user with the necessary information using the full potential of the connecting device. As a simple example; as pointer we have tools like a mouse or our fingers, but don’t forget about console gamepads or joystick, all of them used for pointing purposes.

Next you’ll find a list of questions we should have in mind when designing an interactive interface:

  • Pointer type? Mouse, fingers, pen, joystick, …?
  • How is used? Sitting, lying, in front, …?
  • Is location important? Such as on the road looking for an address.
  • Are day and time important? Think of live events.
  • What is the purpose of use? Urgent, repetitive, alert, bored, …?
  • In case of using the fingers; What gestures need to be allowed? In some cases shaking a device can clear the screen of text.
  • What is the orientation of the device? The user may be lying on the couch or standing in the subway.
  • Should we use sounds to help the user experience? If the interface is for an Opera House, I recommend avoiding sounds for live consultations that might disturb the audience.

Currently mobile users are separated in these 4 groups:

  • Lookup/Find: urgent search information.
  • Explore/Play: passing time surfing the net or playing.
  • Check In/Status: repetitive actions to update the status on the Internet.
  • Edit/Create: perform some urgent task that can not wait for the office.

Remember other uses; computer, information panel, game console, … The more users experience our interface possitively, better reviews and better reputation we get.

In my next post I will talk about the environment where the interfaces are displayed and how this can affect user interaction system.

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