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Animation has the power to suggest space and movement in ways that none of your other design tools really can. This makes it especially useful for helping to communicate the lay of the land in your screen-based interfaces through visual hints and special suggestions. It also has the power to suggest depth and space, two things we encounter regularly in the physical world but are often difficult to replicate on-screen.
Something that I feel is overlooked by a lot of product designers is the second-hand experience of their product. That is to say, above and beyond the target user, who is affected by the product—and most importantly—what is their experience?
If the UX team has satisfied all the needs and desires of the target user, minimized their pain-points, and maximized their ability to enjoy the most common process flows, that is truly awesome—but how does the experience they design affect that person’s social circle? Do product designers currently see that as a question worth spending additional time and resources to answer?
Douglas Adams, in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, tells the story of the Golgafrinchians. The people of planet Golgafrincham, the story goes, figured out how to get rid of an entire useless third of their population by duping them into thinking the planet was doomed and that they were eligible for the first ship out. This group was, apparently, designated by profession: Doctors, teachers, and (presumably) writers of humorous science-fiction were deemed worthy to remain; telephone sanitizers, hairdressers, and jingle writers were shanghaied.
Sometimes, remembering this story, I wonder whether this field of UX—to which I’ve given my professional life—would qualify me for the ship. After all, we create no shelter, food, or clothing for anyone; our work rarely inspires anyone to the point of tears (unless they be tears of frustration); and I’ve never met a 6-year-old who wants to be one of us when they grow up.
The world as we know it today is rich in information. At whim, we can usually find (without much delay) an information source that answers a question, suggests nearby restaurants, tells us how to travel, or provides us with data for the paper we are writing. The internet, as well as the technological innovations that allow us to easily and enjoyably access it, has given rise to a new era where knowledge is plentiful and interpretation is vital.
This luxury has had a huge impact on the dynamic of society as a whole. For our ancestors, obtaining information was the primary challenge; the shifting technological landscape now means we must deal with, rather than search for, information.