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Know your user. Design for your user. We are not our user.

User Experience (UX) Design has been popping up on my feeds a lot lately. What is it? What does it mean? Is it really that important?

What is it?

The following definition stems from Wikipedia. Whilst I acknowledge there are more credible sources, I believe this is the most succinct definition of user experience design.

“User experience design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product.”

What does this mean?

Effectively and in simplest terms, user experience design refers to understanding and designing for the user to increase their engagement with the end product.

In the realm of learning experience design / Elearning / Instructional Design, this is a topic which I’ve found is usually unappreciated. Time after time I have heard Trainers and Elearning professionals comment that we must include instructions on how to navigate the course, where to click and how to interact with it. Why? I disagree firmly. This isn’t the first digital experience our learners have interacted with. Our learners are from all generations and demographics, but we all share one thing in common: we’ve all been impacted by technology. Let’s start acknowledging this and building for this digital awareness.

Is it really that important?

“UX is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it isn’t that good.”

Heard this quote before? This quote couldn’t be further from the truth. If we have to routinely explain how one should interact with a learning experience... there’s a fundamental flaw - it hasn’t been built for them and it isn’t intuitive.

Let’s be honest. No one reads instructions or manuals, even if you force them to by a restricted navigation. Learners will click everywhere and anywhere frantically to progress. They’re busy. They don’t want to read this. They’ve seen your home icon, menu icon and next icons before... they know what it’ll do.

What next?

Embrace the laws of UX design.

Jakob Nielsen, a User Advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group which he co-founded with Dr. Donald A. Norman (former VP of research at Apple Computer) coined “Jakob’s Law - one of the 19 laws of UX design.

Jakob’s law explains that our users spend most of their time on other sites and experiencing other digital interactions. As explained above, our experience isn’t the first they’ve encountered. This therefore means that our users prefer our experiences to function in the same way as all the other sites they already know.

Why does this matter?

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Capitalise on their prior experiences. Don’t belittle your learners by trying to explain to them what a menu button or a next button does - they already know. Work to simplify the learning process for our learners by providing familiar design patterns, icons and interaction.


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