We’ve all encountered scenes like the one pictured above – you may even be looking at one outside your office window: pedestrians choosing to ignore the nicely-constructed, costly, often very pretty footpaths designed for them, and choosing instead to forge their own path. But have you ever thought about what scenarios like this say about design? Why aren’t pedestrians selecting the paths constructed for them? What do their choices say about the paths designers have constructed? What goal(s) motivate them to forge their own? These are the types of questions user experience (UX) designers ask.
The picture presents a useful allegory for designers of any stripe: the idea being, of course, that if we want to design valuable things, we need to consult the needs, expectations, and yes, even wants, of our users.
Let’s translate that principle to an online learning context: “If we want to design valuable online learning experiences for students, we need to take their needs, expectations, and yes, even wants into account.” Whether this strikes you as common sense, or fairly radical, it is a design approach that the Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) has recently adopted with our User Experience Design for Learning (UXDL) framework, an adaptation of UX Honeycomb, developed by leading user-experience advocate Peter Morville.
You can learn more about our UXDL framework and how our design process is evolving to put our users – our students – front and centre at cel.uwaterloo.ca/honeycomb. This is a new initiative for us, so we welcome your ideas, thoughts, and reflections.
Pia Zeni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Matt Justice (email@example.com)