User Experience: A personal perspective on making apps better, easier to use and more human

The Media Equation

Apps come in all shapes and sizes and, with varying degrees of success, we often interact with them for work or pleasure.

I'm often asked "What makes a good app, and how can I make it better and easier to use?"

Once you realise working with apps and computers is just like working with Real People, Organisations, Television and New Media, you start to understand what's needed to make them more useful and easier to use. Psychology and sociology are helpful here.

One book from 1996 I found useful, is "The The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television, and New Media Like Real People and Places" by Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass, isbn:9781575860534.

As our experiences evolve, it's worth noting that our collective abilities grow along with our expectations of what apps should do and how they should do it. It's no coincidence the tools, widgets and frameworks we use to develop apps are in continual flux.

I once worked with a director who had a red Dilbert on her monitor, and we probably all know someone who customises their workspace. This is clear evidence we personalise and humanise our surroundings.

If like me you don't have a humanities, psychology or sociology background then I highly recommend reading "The Media Equation". Imitating personality, becoming teammates, creating something natural and simplicity are just some of the topics. You will be in a better position with knowledge of how new media works with people is knowledge of things social and natural.

Do your yourself and your users a favour, make time to ensure your apps are more human, it really is worth investing the and effort.