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Beyond the Browser: Unlikely Places to Find Great User Experience Design

1668880 Beyond the Browser: Unlikely Places to Find Great User Experience Design

by Kimberly Reyes (@CommDuCoeur)

Put your hands up and step away from the keyboard.  Now face the door and walk.

No, I’m not going to steal your computer; I’m just going to show you some really great examples of user experience design.

Okay, I see that I’ve lost you.

We both know that “user experience” refers the way a person interacts with a device or system.  We also know that user experience design entails assessing and creating architecture that facilitates positive user experiences.

Alright, so you know what user experience design is.  But do you know where it is?

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by Kimberly Reyes (@CommDuCoeur)

Put your hands up and step away from the keyboard.  Now face the door and walk.

No, I’m not going to steal your computer; I’m just going to show you some really great examples of user experience design.

Okay, I see that I’ve lost you.

We both know that “user experience” refers the way a person interacts with a device or system.  We also know that user experience design entails assessing and creating architecture that facilitates positive user experiences.

Alright, so you know what user experience design is.  But do you know where it is?

If your first thought is the Internet, you’re not alone.  Your second thought is probably your desktop.  But what about Hollywood?  A publishing company?  In space?  If you’re raising an eyebrow right now, you’re due for a field trip.

Hey, Nice [Magazine] Rack

With everyone in the publishing industry biting their nails about the inevitable death of the print medium, Wired Magazine is playing it cool.  Sure, it could be because Wired took home three National Magazine Awards last year and is nominated again this year in six categories.  Also, Wired has nothing to worry about because editor-in-chief Chris Anderson and his team have mastered the art of user experience design.  Chris Anderson still believes in the power of print, but doesn’t treat it as an adversary to the web.  Instead, he’s directed the popular title’s layout artist to draw inspiration from web design, with high-impact graphics and dynamic arrangements borrowed from the way we navigate websites.  What’s next on Wired’s agenda? Staying true to the magazine’s tech theme, Wired proposes a model for viewing digital magazine editions in mobile readers.

How to Train Your Dragon…without feeling drunk

3D movies are nothing new, dating back to the 1950s with such blockbuster hits as House of Wax and It Came From Outer Space. Then why is Dreamworks’ Chris Sanders getting so much attention these days?  For one thing, his newest feature film, How to Train Your Dragon had to be completed in record time (12 months for a full-length 3D movie).  Also, Chris keeps no secrets about the obstacles that face 3D animators when it comes to how audiences respond to their designs – like making sure the planes of vision aren’t so severe that moviegoers end up vomiting.  Another user design challenge?  Chris worked closely with cinematographer Roger Deakins to get the lighting of the film just so – thwarting the sleepiness that often accompanies wearing 3D glasses.

The Most Famous Underwear in the World

You thought your job was tough?  Try being the guy that had to inspect a pair of underwear worn by a Japanese astronaut for a month.  That’s right, the same pair of undies for a whole month.  That’s what happens when your job is to design products that need to withstand the obstacles of space flight and exploration–like not having a washing machine.  And while the particular odorless tighty-whities in question were a feat of Japanese engineering, the folks at NASA Glenn Research Center also have a few tricks up their sleeve, looking at ways to improve the astronaut experience through their Advanced Flight Projects Office.  The Human Research program designs exercise protocols that help astronauts remain fit and healthy in zero gravity, while the Advanced Capabilities Project office researches things like how to manage the impact of lunar dust particles on people and equipment and how to establish a protocol and vocabulary to keep astronauts up-to-date on developing technologies.

So now that you’re back from our adventure, what did you learn?

  1. User-centric design can lead to invention.  The ease and efficiency of browsing the Web for information didn’t intimidate Chris Anderson, it inspired him.
  2. User-centric design is important even in industries that revolve around aesthetics.  If your friend told you that he left the theater with a migraine, would you watch the same movie?
  3. User-centric design isn’t just about making things enjoyable or easy.  For the engineers at NASA, it’s about keeping our space pioneers safe and healthy.

User Experience isn’t just an aspect of design, or an afterthought.  It’s the entire design process.

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