Tuesday, 22 October 2013 09:07

Gaudi and Steve Jobs Way of User Interface Design

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In many companies, one of the challenges for business analysts is: “Designing Best User Interfaces”.

To achieve this objective business analysts should first shift their focus from designing the best “user interfaces” to designing the best “UX (user experience)”.

In case design thinking is limited to best “user interfaces”, the focus is only given to visual aspects and functionality. But the best “user experience” can only be achieved if usability is also positioned as a must have throughout the design process in addition to functional and aesthetic concerns.

To ensure usability of the interfaces companies have started to establish dedicated UX teams. These teams work on the low-fidelity prototypes created by business analysts and improve their usability by applying UX design principles. They also conduct usability tests with real users to find and fix the usability problems on the prototypes. Afterward they send the prototypes to visual designers who create the most aesthetic visual designs.

However in majority of the companies the role of UX teams is still totally played by business analysts. This may be due to budget constraints and unawareness on the importance of usability. At the companies that don’t have UX teams, business analysts have to spend more time and effort to improve their knowledge on usability and UX design principles.

The most important of these principles is “User Centricity”.

User interfaces are considered usable if they are easy to use and good fit for the people who use them. This requires a User Centered approach in the design process.

Throughout the construction history, Gaudi has been one of the most famous architects with his user centered architecture design approach. His story starts with a childhood suffering from poor health. This situation prevented him from going to school, and he spent most of his time in nature. His observations of nature inspired his design approach, which can be summarized as follows: “The great book always open and which we should make an effort to read, is that of Nature.” With this philosophy he designed buildings with “organic style,” which then became an important standard in architecture.

Another man revolutionized the high-tech industry in a similar way. By positioning users at the center of the analysis and design process, Steve Jobs led the innovation of the most usable consumer electronics products ever. He achieved to create natural-born users of his products. Even kids can use his company’s phones and touchpads with gestures similar to their natural behavior. This new design approach made his company the best performer in the high-tech industry.

In user interface design, the most practical way of adapting Gaudi and Steve Jobs way of user centricity is applying user profiling technique during requirements elicitation stage of the project. User profiling is grouping users according to their mental models and level of computer use based on their personal characteristics such as age, gender, education, income level and business background. Business analysts should define user profiles in addition to user requirements during requirements gathering sessions, define personas (imaginary characters) for each profile and should consider the characteristics of personas during user interface design.

This user-centered analysis and design approach ensures both functionality and usability and helps to provide the best experience on user interfaces.

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Emrah Yayici

Emrah Yayici is the Author of the book: “Business Analyst’s Mentor Book: With Best Practice Business Analysis Techniques and Software Requirements Management Tips”.” In his book he explains best practices about business analysis, software testing, usability and user experience design with real-life examples from various industries. He also shares his consulting experience gained in multinational software development projects at BA-Works, Keytorc, UXservices, Arthur Andersen and Accenture companies.

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