User Experience = Ergonomics online.

by Ray Clarke. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.

Following on from an interesting twitter exchange between @itsleesimpson , @Tdous and @Jamiecurle which originated through a comment made by @saratpediredla.

Wednesday 9th March 2011

SP I hate it when people say they care about UX when all they mean is that they can make things look pretty! (8.19)

TD @itsleesimpson I wouldn’t put brain surgery and UX design on an equal footing. (9.35)

TD @itsleesimpson Unless brain surgery is now also mostly common sense + anecdotal research + a dash of opinion. (9.36)

LS @tdous True. But there was no brain surgeons, funeral directors or UX designer until people realised it was an important thing to have. (9.39)

JC @itsleesimpson @tdous could the term UX designer be a response to the decreasing threshold to someone calling themselves a “web designer”? (9.42)

TD @itsleesimpson Fair point. I guess the difference is how specialised, beyond less recently realised related disciplines you want to make a.. (9.42)

TD @itsleesimpson ..role seem to be for whtevr the prpose of doing so might be. Then it’s a case by case judgement based on individual ability. (9.42)

LS @jamiecurle @tdous I think like @saratpediredla’s original comment it’s maybe away to define a little more understanding of design. (9.44)

LS @jamiecurle @tdous …functional design that is. (9.44)

TD @itsleesimpson Most probably, yeah. (9.47)

This got me thinking about the cross over between User Experience (UX) and Ergonomics

Having trained as an industrial designer, and now designing for the web I can see huge synergies between the worlds of physical product design & development, and online product design & development.

For Example

Poor ergonomic design in physical product = Pain and suffering for the end user i.e. RSI, bad back, etc.

Poor user experience online = Pain and suffering for end users i.e. choice paralyses, user confusion and frustration, etc.

Directing the above observations back onto @SaratPediredla‘s original comment, it seems to ring true. The bare bones functionality and usability of an online project has no, or very little dependancy on aesthetics at the base level of user interaction.

A usable end product could have a multitude of different veneers adhered over the top, they all become invisible though once the product flow and usability are a joy to use.

Are Aesthetics important?

Sure they are, but only truly effective when done in a subtle and integrated way to enhance the overhaul user experience – and intern they then become invisible.

Thats what good design is about, users don’t necessarily notice whats right with a product. But when something is difficult to use – it stands out!

So does user experience = ergonomics online?

In my eyes yes, if a chair is comfortable to sit in it becomes a non-issue, when a chair is uncomfortable to sit in – ‘your up’ jumping around procrastinating, prodding at it, to somehow make it more comfortable…

So lets strive to make the sites we build as comfortable as possible for our end users and eliminate, the procrastination and finger pointing. And once we have the ergonomics of a site correctly implemented – only then should we put our pretty upholstery over the top.

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