The Product Design Process

Usability & Accessibility

Paul Boag

Paul Boag

The Product Design Process

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The "Usability & Accessibility" Lesson is part of the full, The Product Design Process course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Paul discusses the various aspects and considerations involved in product design. He covers topics such as usability, error handling, accessibility, device compatibility, interactivity, security, branding, and emotional connection.


Transcript from the "Usability & Accessibility" Lesson

>> Then of course, there's usability, right? How easy is this thing to use? Is it easy to learn? Is it quick to complete tasks? The common tasks that we most want to do? Is it quick and easy to do that? Is it forgiving of mistakes? This is one that's often overlooked, right?

And then what happens is, you see, designers, I love designers. I'm a designer, right? But let's make a sweeping generalization about designers now that is absolutely not true, but there is a grain of truth in it. And that sweeping generalization is we are big picture people. We think holistically about systems, right?

We are terrible at thinking about edge cases where things go wrong. And so what happens? The developers in the room have to code up all of these error messages and if this goes wrong then and they write error messages. And I'm sorry, no offense, you're rubbish at it.

Right, 404 error. Whoa, what's that, right? Or they try and be funny. The page you're looking for cannot be found, or. All these kinds of rubbish kind of star wars references, and this is not the page you're looking for and, no, terrible, but it's because we as designers haven't done our job of actually looking at how we're gonna deal with these things.

Accessibility is another big part of what we do as product designers. There's user accessibility, does it meet the needs of the user? For example, a user that's got special needs, whether those needs are permanent, situational, or temporary. And I don't know whether you're aware of this distinction between accessibility and inclusive design.

But I tend to talk about inclusive design a lot more than accessibility because when you talk about, if you say for example, we've got to make our website so it can be used for people that are blind, right? Or have got vision problems. Then the company owner goes, well, we don't have employees that have got visual disability, so we don't need to worry about that.

And it gets written off, right? And nobody does it. But what if you say, okay, we need to make our web app accessible for anybody over 50. Yeah, we got people like that. Also people that have got vision problems, right? Or what about people may be that get eye fatigue a lot.

So that's what I mean by inclusive design. There are people with permanent disabilities, may be for example, they're an amputee, right? Or they might have a situational disability. They're holding a toddler, so they haven't got used to that arm, or they might have a temporary disability they've broken their arm.

Effectively, they're all suffering from the same problem [LAUGH] which is they can't use this arm, right? So it's really important that we think about these things as we're building apps because it's not just about the guy with the amputated arm, it's also the person holding their toddler. It was a bit waffly, apologies for that.

And then there's device accessibility, which we've talked about before, where you need to think about the size, the platform, the input method, the operating system, all of these things that are relevant to the device. There's a lot of accessibility needs that we need to consider. And then interactivity, especially, this is where product, we really kind of focus in on product design and some of the things that web apps have that maybe a traditional website doesn't, and we need to be giving careful consideration to a whole range of interactions.

Sliders, drag and drop, tag management, QR codes, modules, draws, tool tips. There's loads of this kind of stuff, all of which you need to be considered. I know I'm beginning, this is just a long list of things that are probably overwhelming you, but it's showing the breadth and the depth of what product design is all about.

Security, logins, account management, communications, right? How do we reassure users that their security and privacy are under control. How do we give them a sense of control over those kinds of things, right? That's another aspect that we need to be thinking about. How much time do we as designers spend thinking about, logins, probably very little.

But yeah, it's fundamental to the experience. And it's a great example of the thing that we're doing again and again and again and again. So that's one of those things that can really begin to annoy you. Like those pointless check boxes, right? You know the ones? Username, password, remember me, does it ever remember you?

Have you ever been to a site where it actually remembers you next time you come? Why are those checkboxes there? [LAUGH] I don't get them. It's ridiculous. Anyway, that's, again, off the point. And then, of course, there's all the branding stuff as well. We need to ensure that our branding is consistent across our web apps.

We need to make them recognizable and memorable and we need to make an emotional connection, right? So it's like, Mailchimp was a great example of this, of a user interface that was incredibly compelling because it had character, it had fun to it, it was engaging. And yet over the years, it's become more and more corporate, and it's lost a lot of that character.

Now, I'm not necessarily saying that's wrong, right? It may be that they've made a conscious move towards the corporate market, but we as product designers need to be worrying about this stuff. You've reached the end of the list, right? The list of things that you've got to think about as a product designer.

Wow, that was quite an overwhelming list and I'm sorry about that. But I wanted you to see the nuances and the complexity of this, that it is so much more than creating an interface in Figma and that there's deeper considerations going on here. The product designer is as much about shaping the product as the interface, right?

Do you see what I'm getting at there? That a UI's design job is they've given functionality and they create the user interface. A product designer is shaping the whole product, everything from the branding to the functionality, to the interface, to the experience as a whole, it's all part of one big picture.

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