I heard an interesting piece on NPR several weeks back about this very issue. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that 3- and 4-year-olds use a different process than older children and adults to figure out how things work. In experiments conducted by the researchers, children had to figure out how to operate a specially designed music box. According to the NPR story, “Children try a variety of novel ideas and unusual strategies to get the gadget to go.” For that reason they are often quicker to figure out how novel technologies work.
As we age, we start to expect things to work a certain way. And when new gadgets don’t meet our expectations, we struggle with them.
Which immediately made me wonder, why do we technologists design gadgets that require “unusual strategies” for other people to figure out how they work? Why is it that so many people have trouble programming the DVR, setting up the new office printer, or figuring out how the hottest new mobile app works?
At Atomic Object we combat this problem by starting projects out with Research, Design, and Planning. Our designers start by identifying the software’s users and getting into their mindset to understand how they expect to interact with the product. We have lots of experience with information architecture and user interaction design, which allows us to structure an app logically and create intuitive interactions.
This upfront attention to software design helps our clients to create products that elicit a positive response from users right from the start. Our software make sense to our users. They don’t struggle to figure out how they work!
If you are struggling to design an intuitive app, contact us. We’d love to help you out!