Aaron Gustafson @ #btconf

Written by on in Düsseldorf, Germany.

“Designing with Empathy” - notes from Aaron Gustafsons talk at Beyond Tellerrand 2013.


Why design needs to be empathic.

Empathy requires listening.

«your ego is a bad designer.»

Design is closely connected to art. “Skip the intro” as an example of designers getting into the way of the content. Communication is bidirectional. An annoying website is like someone who talks and talks and talks.

Empathy requires observation.

«Our analytics show we have no users that have JavaScript disabled!»
«well… does your analytics use JavaScript to track data?»

Empathy requires patience.

Perspective is everything. Ego is a shield; it disconnects us from other people. Vulnerability on the other hand requires us to trust to the members of our society. Showing vulnerability creates trust.

Philosopher John Rawls (1921-2002) asked people to imagine their vision of a perfect society. They were not allowed to pick their own role in that society. We need solidarity.

Personas need to be real. They need to be human.

Design is problem solving:

1. User Scenarios

User scenarios / stories as a means of situational empathy.
We need detailed information of our user: Goals, needs, circumstances, outside influences, distractions, limitations.

2. Set a performance budget

3. Author appropriate content

Don’t use cryptic error codes to communicate to your users.

4. Consider physical limitations

Different people use different input devices. Mouse, keyboard, touchscreen. Make sure text is legible.

5. Facilitate satisfaction

Reward people for learning complex tasks.

6. Don’t create unnecessary barriers

Don’t load content by javascript.

7. Don’t force your agenda on your customers

Don’t nag people to visit the mobile version of a site that is incomplete and not zoomable.

8. Support common assistive technology

9. Progressive reduction

Shows examples of an UI that becomes simpler the longer you use it (and more complex if you don’t use it for some time)