Using the visual aspect of a product or service to improve the user experience is called visual design. UX design is a process that focuses on the interaction of a user with this product or service. How strong is the relationship between visual design and UX design?
In June 2018, the international event UXcampAms took place in Amsterdam at IJsfontein. It is a BarCamp for all user experience (UX) professionals, whether they focus on information architecture, interaction and visual design, service design, content strategy, user psychology or UX research. The main characteristic of a BarCamp is that the participants set the agenda and create the content. So, for me, it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the connection between visual design and UX design.
The UXcampAms started with a Madness session. This meant that all attendees were given a chance to lead a 45-minute presentation, discussion or workshop. How does this work? In this case, twenty-eight potential presenters prepared a clear and to the point pitch, and presented it in 30 seconds. Right after the pitch the audience voted on the session by raising their hands to show interest. For example, I voted for a workshop about engaging stakeholders using the relay ideation technique, and a presentation about cultural differences and their impact on design. The madness session was an interactive and fun way to set the UXcampAms agenda.
Relay ideation technique
Ideation can explore multiple possibilities in a short time. The relay ideation technique helps teams to move from problem understanding to problem solving in the design process. Roos Voorend, human-computer interaction researcher at MintLab, requested us to solve the next question:
How do people prepare for travelling?
Roos showed us the persona Tessa. Tessa presented a young woman with a fulltime job, searching for trip advise from locals related to authentic experiences. During the workshop we got the task to form pairs, and to answer the next three problem statements:
- How to look for tips from local people with similar preferences?
- What is the impact of social norms in making a first impression?
- Why are long trips to be considered more important than small trips?
After we answered a problem statement, we had to explain our answer to another pair. They had the task to further answer the problem statement based on our output. It was surprising how fast a misunderstanding arose. This shows that communication, especially engagement, is important between key players in an UX design project.
Cultural differences and design
Cultural differences need to be considered when you are working in multicultural teams and with international clients. People have their own values, perspectives, biases and stereotypes. How to become more aware of these differences, and act as an inclusive designer?
Bindu Upadhyay and Anna Hornburger are working at the development and design agency ‘wearereasonablepeople’. They illustrated to us an example of McDonald’s fast food menus in the United States (US) and Japan to understand cultural differences in design. In the US, customers make individual choices from fast food menus showed on visual screens that can be adjusted. In Japan, the fast food menu is shown on a conveyor belt. Customers get recommendations based on the main menu choices of other customers. Katherine Reinecke, a researcher in human-computer interaction, also explores how human interaction with technology depends on the cultural, geographic, and demographic background of people: LabintheWild.
Visual design and UX design
Visual designers and UX designers have a close relationship, and need to communicate well to create well-thought-out products and services. The relay ideation technique helps them to create multiple ideas in a short time. In addition, visual designers and UX designers often work in multicultural teams to meet the needs of international clients. Therefore, it is important that they are aware of cultural differences, and are able to manage this during the design process.
Do you want to know more about the added value of visual design as part of UX design? Feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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