08 Jan Thoughts on Developments in UX/UI Design and Human Factors
In an interesting discussion on a Reddit thread on the concept of hybrid professions, I considered my own experience through life with childhood inclinations towards art and tinkering with electronics… through my college experience in communication design and now where I am in my career with circling back to computers, programming and application interface development.
My response to a comment about becoming a hybrid professional instead of starting over in something new was this:
“Can attest to this… I’m 32… started with an interest in art, engineering and computers as a child, went to college thinking I’d be a psychiatrist so learned plenty about psychology and premed related classes… decided to be true to my passion and go to design school… got degree in communication design… got out of school and found there were far more jobs in web and apps… picked back up on programming… realized behavioral psychology is extremely useful in interface design… am now UX/UI Designer specializing in Human Factors.”
It peaked some interest, and a user asked me to expand on what I’ve found with the meeting of human factors and interface development. I decided to create a post about it because it represents my thoughts at this time on how UX/UI can benefit from human factors research, and where I believe the field is heading. Here’s my response to that user:
“Well typically behavioral psychology as it applies to user interface leads one to create the constant process of observation regarding reaction to various types of interface actions… not unlike marketing working to collect metrics with regard to advertising or communication results for the purpose of creating more effective leads. In UX/UI testing the goal is to create a more efficient and repeatable interface for intended users. The observation of user interface behavior is best directed by various experiments in individual and group motivation, associative conditioning (applied to failure/success rate of various interface and experience concepts), efficiency tests such as creating purposeful distractions and measuring the rate of reaching a particular goal… and something I am not currently engaged in (and not sure how I feel in terms of ethics) is “the race to the bottom of the brain stem” as facebook, google, etc puts it. Essentially, how can we manipulate neurological risk-reward/fight-flight methods to create a persistent (albeit pathological imho) user engagement.
“The same tests can be applied to various visual identities to learn which create more of a sense of alignment in the user… in essence, which interface design most effectively becomes part of the user’s worldview. This is more in regard to gaming, web and mobile app design.
“If the same concept is applied to industrial equipment interfaces as machines and the way we use them get smarter (which is currently an accelerating trend also imho)… I can see the form of currently stagnant UI in industrial processes becoming more intuitive and engaging… giving a sense of alignment and reward in performing industrial, manufacturing or laborious tasks.
“EDIT: Adding the following about job prospects:
“In terms of job prospects… I think the prospects for user experience and interface design are only going to grow as AI and machine learning continues the push to saturated commercial and consumer availability. We’re relying on machine intelligence to reduce the need for direct human labor more and more… so there is a big mental playing field opening up towards how we interact with various platforms of machine and computing intelligence. User interaction and interface development will become a major part of how we live, work and play as this trend continues. It is also a great prospect for those who are in complicated industrial and professional fields to become consultants in creating the workflow of machine and computer assisted processes. It’s scary… but machines replacing human labor gives rise to the need for humans who can teach developers about their processes to ever improve efficiency. I can’t say I like that human involvement is decreasing as we learn to automate many human labors but I think it’s inevitable, so a lot of these considerations are forward-thinking in order to provide an honest opinion on the job prospects and trends.”