Talking UX, Psychology and The Power of 100 at UX Sheffield

What do a 40% decrease in traffic accidents overnight, an evening spent watching TV and a good night’s sleep have to do with digital product design? Quite a lot, it turns out.

Last week, we were lucky enough to sponsor another bi-monthly UX Sheffield event, where Joe Leech (aka Mr Joe), UX and Product Management Consultant, gave a talk discussing how UX and psychology should go hand-in-hand when it comes to effective product design.

You can watch an earlier talk he gave on the subject here, but I wanted to share a couple of key takeaways from the talk that resonated with myself and the other members of the Bunnyfoot team:

Consider Which Theories Will Apply To Your Audience – And Which Won’t

Reading up on psychological theories can be extremely useful if you work in design, but there’s a countless number of theories out there – so you need to consider the context of each one and the relevance of it to your audience. Mr Joe used Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs (1943) as a key example. As a theory, it’s easy to comprehend – so you can see why it caught on. However, it’s likely that this hypothesis was based on Maslow’s own experiences as a heterosexual, white American male living in the 1940s – so it won’t necessarily reflect the experiences and needs of a diversified, modern-day user base.

Be Aware of Your Users’ Circumstances

Humans have limited mental capacity and are rarely operating at 100%. Most of the time, your customers will be doing something else at the same time as interacting with your design – especially if it’s digital-based. Similarly, your users will always be subject to circumstances that can impair their judgement and decision making; whether that’s tiredness, hunger etc. To provide the best user experience, consider when your customers are likely to be using your product and the circumstances around it and try to conduct testing in settings that reflect this “real world” situation where possible.

Choose Your Research Methods Carefully

Another point of note was that consumers are bad at knowing how they’ll behave. They know what they want – but they don’t necessarily know why, or how they’ll react… so you should choose your research methods with this in mind. When discussing this, Mr Joe referred to Hick’s Law: the more options you give people, the longer it takes them to take action (and as a result, reduce sales for the company). Yet invariably, customers will tell you they want as much choice as possible from the companies they buy from. And this isn’t just true of choice, it’s true of many different aspects of human behaviour. So, when undertaking user research, be very selective about what methods you use. Surveys and questionnaires have a place, but the results they produce aren’t always reliable when it comes to how users behave; people find it hard to separate what they want from why they want it.

At Bunnyfoot, we’re experts in user research and testing, and can help you improve your products and services through evidence-based recommendations. If you’d like to discover how UX can help you, please get in touch!

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About Bunnyfoot

We are psychologists, interaction and design experts, researchers, usability specialists. We cover Web, software, mobile, print, service design and more.
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