How Universal Truths Drive User Experience

The world of UX is an eclectic one, with citizens from a wide range of backgrounds. At Tonic, we've been lovingly described as an Island of Misfit Toys, but that doesn't mean we don't have quite a bit in common. Whether we're using Illustrator as designers or Python as developers, we're all engaged in making an exceptional user experience.

That's what makes UX design such a beautiful thing-we all see it, interact with it, approach it, and create it from a different perspective. Everyone has something to teach and something to learn on their UX journey.

Likewise, we have common ground with the users we design for. That's where universal truths come into play. Here are a few truths that inform how we relate to our users:

We're all social creatures.

As new technologies emerge, they will always be used in a social capacity. It's just what humans do. Whether we're interacting with our closest confidante or a long-lost Facebook friend, we find meaningful connections that help us make decisions.

Sharing activities together is called sychronous behavior-when we enjoy these activities, we bond. We want recommendations from people like us-people whose opinions we trust. We're programmed to learn by watching, so we love to live vicariously through like-minded friends and acquaintances.

What does this mean for design?

If people like to be social, give them what they want! Create features that encourage users to share, contribute, and get involved in the community. Social relationships require some give and take, so consider what you're offering them and whether you're making it worth the download.

We all love to learn.

We're seekers. Through all of human experience, we've had to search for food, for mates, for shelter...and now we're on the hunt for something different: information, because with more information we make better decisions and have more options to choose from.

What does this mean for design?

If you're designing a product, it should satisfy this basic craving for knowledge. We live in a tech-saturated, connected world. There's no shortage of information, but we can't get enough of it. So if you're not delivering knowledge or information that's perceived as valuable, your product is less interesting right off the bat.

None of us likes to work hard if we don't have to.

It's not laziness-it's only following the path of least resistance. We're happy to get things done, but when there's a better, easier way, we take it. As a result, we can use our energy elsewhere.

What's this mean for design?

Don't make your users wonder what they can do with your product. State your value proposition clearly.

Present a clean interface that doesn't require much digging. Present information visually to give users the most reward for the effort they make. And make it easy for them to find instructions, links, and features.

Providing defaults is a good way to help users get what they need without forcing them to customize their own settings. Conduct the necessary research to find out exactly which features are most important and customize your default settings to appeal to those preferences.

So why does any of this matter? Well, UX is all about learning what people like and how they interact with a given product. We need to understand how people tick in order to give them an experience they'll love. It's these universal truths of the human experience that connect every one of us.