A cognitive empathy experiment: Do you see differently when you change your angle of view?
I heard a perfect example of this recently in the NPR “Hidden Brain” podcast. The episode’s guest speaker describes a medical organization where doctors and nurses wouldn’t notice details in hospital rooms to make patients more happy and comfortable — yet the hospital cleaning staff did notice.
Their special viewpoint? A different angle, looking at the ceiling to see what the patient sees when they lie down in the hospital bed. Is there dirt there, dust, or something else undesirable? What could they then do to make it look nice, safe, inviting?
Looking at what other people see helps to understand how they perceive the situation; how they view the world.
Listen to the episode: You 2.0: Dream Jobs.
Real life is complicated.
Even after we’ve tested all the important user flows and polished the edges in our app or site, people still stumble. Why? Because we’re humans, and because our products still have:
- Broken flows: transition points or interactions, like a form on a site, that aren’t working correctly.
- Content gaps: someone needs a specific piece of content, but you don’t have it—or it’s not in the right place at the right time.
- Pain points: people get hung up and are likely to abandon the site or app.
Making digital products friendly isn’t enough to make them feel human.
For more on this topic, I highly recommend Design for Real Life from A Book Apart; the ebook is only $11.
Instead of treating stress situations as edge cases, it’s time we move them to the center of our conversations—to start with our most vulnerable, distracted, and stressed-out users, and then work our way outward.
The reasoning is simple: when we make things for people at their worst, they’ll work that much better when people are at their best.
Order Design for Real Life from abookapart.com. See also the WordPress.org Flow glossary for terms inspired by this book that we use in testing WordPress.
Here’s a short talk I gave at WordCamp London 2015 on the topic of empathy and user-centered design. Reblogging from the vault of yesteryear since I haven’t published it previously.
The big difference between good and bad designers (and developers, copywriters—all of us) is how they handle people struggling with their design. In this lightning session Lance will argue why empathy is important to beautiful, engaging, and useful products.
View full-screen video starting at 17:04 minute mark, and read the description on wordpress.tv.
Full text below.
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