Going Deep in User Experience Design

Today, technology acts as a kind of extension of human intellect; an amplification of ego. Injecting more and more smarts into our phones and other devices, we create designs that tear the very fabric of the human Soul. The shiny reflections of technology’s surface distract us from the depth of Human Being.

Technology could be said to be the brainchild of our intellect, while art is the expression of the Soul. By marrying art and tool, by combining the wisdom of Soul with the intelligence of mind, I believe we brighten the future of our technological progeny.

Emotional Intelligence

Medusa_by_CarvaggioWhere we are headed, we can no longer afford to view technology as simply a functional design challenge. More and more of human experience exists within commercial containers and those containers are now automating. That chill wind we feel is called alienation, and without new ways of injecting humanity into our experience, it will turn us to stone.

Great design has long been a dance of form and function. Now, thanks to the increasing intelligence of our devices, we are able to add emotional intelligence to the mix. As we automate, we must recognize that gnawing human need to be understood and to feel seen – both by keeping humans in the loop and by building emotional intelligence into our designs. (And by the way, designing for emotional intelligence doesn’t mean using emotions to manipulate users.)

Mindfulness

Gandhara_Buddha_(tnm)It’s also worth seeing this challenge from what a Buddhist might call a mindfulness perspective. In our modern society, where ends always justify the means, it’s always the destination that matters — never the journey. But what if we designed our technologies to be experienced as a crackling fire or delicious meal?

It’s an image that’s hard to imagine because most technology today is designed to rev up our intellect rather than feed our Soul. Designed for doing, not being.

But in a world where more and more of the doing is going to be done for us, what I’m suggesting is that there is an opening for technology that helps us pay more attention to the experience of Human Being.

Deep User Experience Design

What I am also suggesting is the need to shift user experience design beyond today’s purely functional attachment to goals. Going deeper, doing what we might call “deep experience design,” starts with a new relationship between a human and a machine. It builds technology transparent enough to reflect back the beauty of ourselves.

Like art, our tools must reflect back the Soul of the user. For in so doing, we make space for that deeper aspect of ourselves within the new intelligence now emerging on this planet.

Leave a Reply