Choices, choices, choices

Today, Paul, Eiko and I spent another action-packed day at Open Network Lab, mentoring their resident startups in UX Design.

The lineup:

  • Picteen: a photo booth style iPhone app
  • Dreampass: community driven, on-demand movie theater screening
  • Qiita: a know-how exchange service for engineers
  • Kwl-e: an online creative community for sharing work and feedback.
  • Feel on!: a Twitter app for illustrating tweets
  • Jumvle: a web service for buying and selling goods to people near you

As in our last design session, we spent the day sketching interactions, sharpening copy, prioritizing features, and generally touching on every aspect of the product that will influence whether users understand the product, receive value from it, or choose to recommend it to others.

Wrapping up

Though each startup came with different missions, different resources, different hypotheses, and different questions, most of their UX design challenges (and opportunities) can be boiled down to one: reaching clarity through choice.

Choosing to emphasize one action over another. Choosing not to compete on features, so you can compete on your strengths. Choosing a color, shape font or word that speaks to people. Choosing the right moment to give, and the right moment to ask. Choosing when to show more, and when to show less. Choosing the right places to be predictable, and the right places to be playful.

These kind of choices are how products reveal their big idea, their values and their tastes to the rest of the world. As designers, an invitation to take part in these choices, even if just to lay out the options, is one of the most exhilarating parts of the job, and today was no exception.

Big thanks to Hiro Maeda and Yuka Yamaguchi from Open Network Lab for hosting us. Looking forward to the next one!

February 15, 2012