The Ultimate Guide to Design a great User Experience| Aristotle’s storytelling approach
The UX field has been around for several years despite not being widely known as User Experience Design. It has now become a buzzword and has risen to be the center of attention for every designer looking to transition to the digital world. There’s a good reason for it — 67% of customers say they’re willing to pay more for a better user experience. Businesses have an excellent opportunity to differentiate themselves. Unlike products, great experiences are hard to imitate.
UX has become the pumpkin-spiced latte of fall. As long as fall persists, latte is the hot seller. This poses another interesting question…How can we, as UX designers, stay relevant forever? Could we not just throw all this complicated design thinking, double diamond, agile, and “5-D” jargon at laypeople to make us feel protected? Are we scared of rocking the boat? Did we forget who we are?
Can we call ourselves storytellers?
As UX designers we have the power to create surreal experiences…unlike those mundane, aesthetically pleasing, functionally-ok ones. Storytelling is at the core of what connects humans.
Certainly, we are related to Spielberg, Scorsese, and Hitchcock. While film directors are responsible for providing entertaining experiences, we are also responsible for providing functionally appropriate, factually accurate, and visually accessible experiences.
How do we create stories?
By now you would have understood that user experiences are like stories…and stories have narrative structures that drive a viewer along. The narrative structure influences the experience of the dialogue between the user and the story. Storytelling is the method by which the user’s mental state and the story are related.
I like love stories, you may like murder mysteries, I may watch horror, you may despise it…what is the importance of these differences if not to say that our brains think differently…if not to say that we engage and behave differently with a product…
By locating the climax at a different place in the story, viewers will have a different perspective on the story.
UX design remains the same. It’s not only about the product, it’s about the dialogue that human has with the product, about the whole.
How to craft these experiences?
Aristotle to the rescue
Aristotle’s Poetics contained everything we needed to know about becoming accomplished storytellers, even now. This seemed ridiculous to me since I knew Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher who lived over two thousand years ago and people are obviously much smarter now. Nevertheless, it makes sense when most of his theories still hold true. If no longer relevant, his theory juxtaposed with contemporary UX trends holds value.
Aristotle put plot as the first essential element of storytelling, referring to it as the life and soul of any story.
This is the most compelling element of a story. This is because the plot defines what your entire story is about. For your product to attract attention, you must have a compelling plot. UX design is about providing a distinct goal (discovery + tactile) as well as an easy path to get there.
What do you want your users to do?
Is the goal discoverable enough? Is the pathway clear?
How do you help users achieve their goals?
A character drives the entire plot, and your target audience or users are the characters in your story. Understanding your characters will help you write a better plot.
Who are the people you’re designing for?
What are they trying to accomplish?
The key to giving a unique experience and standing out amongst the crowd is to have a memorable, compelling, and creative theme. You need a theme or concept that ties your story together.
Aristotle says that this is the way that each character speaks to one another. And for us, it is the way we speak to our target audience. The diction or dialogue here is UX copy, brand language, tone, and content as a whole. This element has a way to convert what the product is saying to your users. It is the most effective tool to curate compelling experiences.
What is the tone of your brand?
Is your brand sending a unified message?
Is your dialogue with your TA clear enough?
To be effective, the story must have a pleasant melody, to stimulate emotion and motivate you to find a solution. Melody in UX design is about familiarity with your brand. It is about evoking the right emotion in the target audience, the emotion aligned with your goals.
Three key terms: Recognition, Association, and recall.
Is the brand language consistent?
What is the recall value?
The setting or setting is extremely critical to effective storytelling since often the interactions between the characters and the setting reveal a lot about their motivations and behaviors. Attention should be paid to the opportunities or obstacles that may arise in the environment of users.
These are the visual aspects of the theme. From a UX design perspective, the Decor is how all the visual elements are laid out. Using this element of the story wisely can do wonders for the user experience.
Aesthetics is the food of UX.
Our story will be more stimulating if we introduce plot twists or unexpected surprises. As the peak-end rule says, small changes have a large impact on people’s recollections. When designing interfaces and experiences, pay attention to the most intense points of a typical user journey (the “peak” or the climax) and the final moments (the “end”).
The spectacle is something that the audiences who listen to your story will remember, and will generate discussions and ideas. If your design thinking story includes a spectacle, it will be a powerful tool to drive the project forward.
Knowledge is captured in stories. Stories are the foundation of the process to examine customer needs and how customers behave.
Mark Zeh, design leader at IDEO.