Technology is a tool that makes the human experience better and more efficient, its a shame that many technologists seem to miss that
Web designers and developers utilize many technologies to improve communication and make experiences more exciting and engaging, but often times their mindset seems to be overcome by the technology rather than by the end goal that the technology helped to achieve.
I interact with many in the Web Design and Marketing space and see their online presentations and conversations filled with jargon and technical references.
A favorite in the web design space is the list “technologies/languages used” in portfolio and services section.
You have seen it a thousand times :
Perhaps, in some buying scenarios or searches this has a value.( The above list isn’t very impressive, btw)
That observation isn’t intended as a condemnation of the process, just an observation that the mindset of the promoter includes the invalid consideration that these languages/technologies have much real relevance to the problem that the ultimate product is created to solve. As a tacit add on to a more developed explanation it would make sense, but it is often a primary focus to the “portfolio” or service setting.
Discussions on usability and best practice traditionally lean on references to “the user” and “best practices.”
Of course, this is a great attitude and a step in the right direction, but it is still a disconnect from “human, real person, Mrs. Sally Watson”
When we create, design and market in this space we tend to or should have a much tighter understanding of who our reader, viewer, visitor is. This problem is often solved by utilizing persona modeling and is likely a non-issue with the top tier developers, artists, writers and communicators who know their audience implicitly. We do need to use some descriptor to identify our “target” this is an unavoidable fact.
But, be wary that you are using a word to describe people and not falling prey to taking the language as gospel and objectifying the humans that will be exposed to your messaging.
This abstract concept is hard to delineate for me and I can only reiterate that we communicate with humans via technology and all of our language and jargon is merely a means to an end, not the actual goal.
The Lines blur further…
As responsive design, mobile usage, augmented reality and integration’s like Google Glasses become more and more a part of every day life for humans, the line between communicating via technology and code and the experience the human has with that technology will become even more abstract.
One can witness a “Designer” sitting at their desks staring at their little screen contemplating the best arrangement of colors and type to fit across the 320px viewport while hacking out their “responsive design” – all their efforts and mindpower glued to condensing and distilling a message down to its most integral parts to fit the the reduced canvas. At some point, in device testing also begins, with concerns about the user and how touch events work and how easy and enjoyable that experience may be.
But, that’s not far enough … the “user” is a human using a mobile device in a physical environment somewhere, and often we can in fact identify the most likely places, mindsets and purposes the human will have when interacting with their communication device in order to receive our messaging.
The mobile “user” who visits your restaurant website and the mobile user who visits your Tow Service web site have varying levels of urgency and mindsets that can be predicted.
These examples are broad and one cannot (at this time) design and develop for solely such a specific human experience, but it should still flavor our decisions.
We know to think this way across channels…
Its surprising how often discussion is necessary to illustrate the differences in approach a communicator/promoter/marketer needs to maintain across online channels. The mindset and approach of the focused search visitor compared to the interruption one must create in social advertising to the interesting and relevant “gift” one must make to the engaged and intentionally “following” email subscriber, social follower.
With all the jargon and technical terms it almost comes across as a great observation … but when you are considering humans interacting with devices in different settings .. it should be common sense.