My experience with Interaction Design Foundation & 3 tips on how to stay focused while studying online

Interaction Design Foundation is a non-profit community founded in Denmark 17 years ago. I decided to become their member in July 2018, with a recommendation from a colleague who is also a UX designer, like me.

 

 

As a member I got a lot of benefits, such as:

- access to 32 free both beginner and advanced certified UX courses (accredited and recognised by LinkedIn, Adobe, etc.)

- an access to IDF community and a chance to connect with other designers, UX professionals and managers

- information about the most important UX events worldwide

When I signed up, first thing I wanted to do was to check the courses they had. I faced the first problem here because I didn’t know what to choose because I liked too many things! Eventually, I decided to enroll for Mobile User Experience (UX) Design and Emotional Design — How to Make Products People Will Love and study both courses at the same time.

What’s also worth mentioning is that at the same time my office location was moved on the other part of the city. This meant I had to commute every morning for 40 min, so I decided to use this time for studying because my evening free hours free busy with classes on college I had after work. As much as I could take this change in my life as a bad one, I decided to use the maximum of my time, and in return I got a lot!

I particularly liked mini quizzes at the end of each lesson, which is there to ensure that you are keeping up and not just skimming through the text or videos, which is great! The questions become more complex as the course progresses, and their score increases.

One more thing I saw on IDF  and nowhere else are open-ended questions, graded in-person by experts. After you're graded, you also get a proper feedback based on the answer you submitted. IDF doesn’t offer to mentor for each course, but you have the full online support of their community.

When you reach 70% of the course completion, you can retrieve the certificate straight away and post on your LinkedIn profile. But, you can also try to continue with studying and if you achieve more than 90% — you’ll get a Top 10 in a Class note on your certificate which is really cool.

 

Impact of IDF in my career and life

I was so excited when I got my first certificate and published it on my LinkedIn profile, but even more when I started to receive a lot of various UX job offers. Seemed that the recruiters know and appreciate when they see IDF certificates, so they continued to contact me even more often when I added all 4 certificates.

After finishing the course for Conducting Usability Testing, I decided to apply the learnings and reuse the scripts, pre-test and post-test questionnaires when doing testing at my work. It turned out great, and I got some good and valuable feedback afterwards.

 

 

Emotional Design — How to Make Products People Will Love course widened my knowledge in UX, but I also got great knowledge of psychology as well. It’s great to have a big picture of how things work and how with a certain design we can affect and manipulate human behaviour.

 

 

Courses in Mobile User Experience (UX) Design and The Ultimate Guide to Visual Perception and Design teach me some important UX rules about the priorities of the elements and content we put on UI, and how with colours and visuals can impact both users’ decisions and entire look and feel of the site or the mobile app.

 

3 tips on how to stay focused while learning online

 

  1. How I did it? I read 2–4 chapters every morning and it took me 10–20 min to finish them. Amazing, right? 20 min every day changed my life, my career and my approach to work. I became more confident about the things I do and I enjoyed my day-to-day tasks a lot more than before!
  2. Worked for me, don’t know if it will work for everyone.. I enrolled for 2 courses at once, so I can change. For example, I can choose — whether I prefer to do the Mobile UX of Visual Design. And at the end of the road, I got 2 certificates instead of one :)
  3. Even if you’ll feel overwhelmed sometimes, don’t worry. Take a break and continue when you want. That’s the power of a self-paced course — you can sign up for one or more courses at once and read anytime you want. And the best thing is — the content will always be available to you, even when you finish it!

Emotional Design

Emotional design

Intro

This essay will discuss the impact of emotional design and how it can affect the user experience while using a certain product or software. Even though the role of emotions on the web was neglected (it was suppressed by a wave of rational functionality and efficiency), when emotional touch is added in design it creates a more appealing and attractive product, which users tend to use more (Nielsen, 2003).

Review and impact

According to Norman (2003), all things arouse emotions in their users, and nowadays things like computers and phones can generate a whole collection of emotional responses. There is a relationship between a user and the product they interact with, and it’s known as a “Product - Emotion Cycle”. It refers to the set of the changes created in both user and a product during the interaction process, and each change of the product generates an emotional response. Only successful products can generate positive emotional experiences with users.

In his study, Norman (2003) highlights that emotional response can be invoked from three different levels of the brain mechanism, where each one of them plays a different role in the total functioning of people:

  • the visceral level - the level of predefined routines, where the brain analyses the environment and responds (how a user wants to feel);
  • the behavioral level - the brain can analyse a situation and act accordingly (what a user wants to do);
  • the reflective level - the brain can think about its own operations, with the conscious thought (who a user wants to be).

In 2007, Desmet, Porcelijn and van Dijk discussed an approach on the “design for wow”, which is described as a combination of fascination, pleasant surprise, and desire. They selected 8 mobile phones which they believed had excitement features that could evoke a “wow-experience”, and tested them with 35 participants (20 men and 15 women), age range from 20 to 28 years.

In the first study, they used the animated cartoon characters instead of words to represent the emotions elected by the stimuli. The results showed that 3 models out of 8 evoked the highest level of wow-experience.

The second round of studies was conducted in order to understand the emotional reasons relevant in the process of experiencing emotions such as desire, fascination and a pleasant surprise to mobile phones. They divided the given answers into 3 sections: goals, standards, and attitudes.

  • Goals - they wanted a product that is manageable, practical and reliable;
  • Standards - they thought the product should be of the best quality;
  • Attitudes - they liked products with consistent, unique and luxurious designs.

The final results of the study showed that, even though the entire concept of “wow” seems superficial (excitement that can only last until something new and more exciting comes), it is possible to design a product that evokes a “wow-experience”. The reason is that this experience is considered more complex than pure excitement. It can be aroused by a sophisticated opinion and has an experiential, physical and behavioral impact, just like Norman (2003) stated in his study. That been said, design for a “wow” (or emotional design) can result in products or software that people are not only passionate about to see but also eager to use and own, unconstrained by the new and more exciting products.

Method and results

The best example of a good emotional design can be found on tesla.com.

The design of this website shows excitement in more ways, with all 3 levels of Norman’s emotional design included:

  • visceral level - the entire page is a video of the car driving on the road, which creates an image of the unlimited potential. Proper colours and photos were used to derive the initial desire for the product in the user. The content is not made of sentences, but a series of brief quotes that seriously build force and add a feeling of excitement in the audience.
  • behavioral level - the user can rely on the usability, the function of the product and effectiveness of use. They even make their potential customers feel more encouraged to buy Tesla by asking the same questions as they would ask when they buy the car, such as: “Do you like a car that goes fast, quickly?” or “Do you care about the environment, so you want your car to be economical?”
  • reflective level - the fact that the driver’s face is not shown can initiate more desire, meaning that there can be anyone, even the observer itself. The user surely can tell a story about it and imagine themselves driving the car.

Having fulfilled all three aspects of the emotional design, Tesla’s customers - after purchasing one of the cars, will have the best quality “wow” product that is practical and reliable, and with consistent, unique and luxurious design.

 

One of the bad examples is blackboard.com, the tool for students where they can get the studying material, upload their assignments, and check their grades.

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Even though the mentioned tasks were the main actions the student would use in this online portal, none of them were clearly shown or highlighted. General navigation is not intuitive and it’s difficult to understand the structure. No explanations of the icons and no messaging area anywhere on the site, which would have been helpful for the students who have questions about the assignment or about the software itself.

No emotions were derived from the experience gotten when using a site such as Blackboard. None of Nielsen’s 3 levels were satisfied on this website, nor the three aspects from the “wow-product” such as goals, standards, and attitudes.

The students didn’t get the product that is manageable, practical and reliable, nor the best quality one or with consistent, unique and luxurious design.

 

The next example is a mortgage calculator on PTSB website.

From the perspective of Norman’s three levels of emotional design (2003), none of them were respected.

  • visceral - this product didn’t make a good first impression, nor does it show credibility, quality or appeal;
  • behavioral - the product is usable, but the experience is not the best, especially on the mobile phone because of the numbers of input fields that scroll up and down when the keyboard is up.