Google’s long history of using quantitative analysis to support design decisions has taken a leap to becoming more customer-centric with Android’s new design principles. Based on the work of noble-prize winner Daniel Kahneman, Barbara Fredrickson and John Gottman, Google has successfully synthesized research on economic psychology, human decision-making and relationships to form design principles that reduce frustrations and create delight for customers.
Below are the three design pillars (Enchant, Simplify and Amaze) of Android’s new design principles:
1. Enchant Me
Enchanting customers is about creating delight, showing beautiful visuals and customized space. Below are the five principles for Enchant Me:
- Delight me in surprising ways: communicate through subtle yet elegant interactions
- Real objects are more fun than buttons and menus: reduce the effort it takes customers to process info and increase their satisfaction
- Let me make it mine: offer customized experiences that empowers customers and creates positive emotions
- Get to know me: think Google Now and how it learns about users’ preferences, difficult to pull-off without being creepy, but aim to deliver genuine and relevant rewards in exchange for personal info
2. Simplify My Life
Simplifying customers life is about making things easy for them. Below are the eight principles for Simplify My Life:
- Keep it brief: words help shape emotions, but aim for brevity with a touch of hierarchy, especially salient for content
- Pictures are fast than words: communicating with interactions/visuals reduces cognitive load and creates positive emotions
- Decide for me but let me have the final say: for some micro-interactions creating non-destructive defaults makes sense with immediate undo options instead of confirmation dialogs
- Only show what I need when I need it: also known as progressive disclosure, which prioritizes relevant content and options and collapses non-essential info
- I should always know where I am: think navigation affordances/cues/animations, limit navigation depth and create intuitive navigation structure with breadcrumbs or progress feedback
- Never lose my stuff: auto-save, session cookies and geo-location have the potential to create enormous positive emotions for customers, make customers data and time a priority and customers will learn to trust and hopefully eventually evangelize the company/person behind the interface
- If it looks the same, it should act the same: consistent functions and control help customers learn digital interfaces easier and faster, recognition is a much less intensive process for customers to perform than recall
- Only interrupt me if it’s important: has the potential to create negative emotions, think about those annoying pop-up windows on HBR.org, the goal of digital properties should be to help customers finish the task they came to complete
3. Make Me Feel Amazing
Make me feel amazing is about making customers feel capable. Below are the five principles for Make me feel amazing:
- Give me tricks that work everywhere: system/platform interactions that work consistently throughout the experience, consistency helps customers learn interfaces quickly
- It’s not my fault: reduce/prevent user error, use positive human phases and avoid technical jargon and use user-friendly error messages, content/messages should avoid using blaming language
- Sprinkle encouragement: positive digital interactions, think intuitive interfaces, navigation cues, encourage user to explore and play with app, leverage positive language and tone in content by giving positive feedback, but don’t over use it
- Do the heavy lifting for me: under sell and over deliver, focus on delivering complicated results from simple customer inputs, leverage any existing info that will take burden off customer inputs
- Make important things fast: customers attention is getting harder to capture, if a customer can’t load your site/app while waiting for a red light to change you may loss them forever, load time and web performance is a crucial and often overlooked source of customer frustrations
User Self Blame
One concept I found rather interesting is user self blame. I will start to pay more attention to the residue effects of user self blame caused by confusing interfaces, overwhelming options and limitless flexibility.
Time spent struggling with technology reduces customers quality time with what is most important to them and that’s usually not technology. This is why minor annoyances turn out to be big sources of frustration for users of digital products and services. This is one barrier I will try to eliminate going forward. I say try because so much of UX design is about compromise; between clients, brands, internal accounts/creative, technical legacy issues, timeline and budget.
Jars of emotions
According to the work of Barbara Fredrickson it takes three positive emotions to remove one negative emotion. The team at Google used this work to evaluate their project(s) and put three marbles into a negative jar for every bad emotion they discovered was caused by their app. Alternatively the team put one marble into a positive jar for every good emotion they found was caused by their app.
The goal is to have an empty negative jar and a full positive jar.
Integrating design principles
If you want to build a lasting relationship with your customers make sure you can answer the following questions positively using the principles above.
- Are you enchanting your customers? How you activating the pleasure centers of their brains?
- Are you simplifying the lives of your customers? Are you being consistent, placing blame, keeping customers focused on what we want to accomplish,
- Are you amazing your customers? Are you helping customers create something want want to share with their friends? Are you solving real problems for your customers? Are you empowering customers to do things we couldn’t imagine?
To help facilitate shared understanding I created a handy dandy one-pager I use to evaluate designs, project objectives and product strategy. The sheet helps create commonality of the design principles and convey the rationale of design decisions.
Download the PDF here and let me know if you find it useful in your work.
Watch the Google Team present Androids’ Design Principles below. The video is about 40 minutes long at normal speed, I watched at 1.5 speed and it took me about 30 minutes.
Android’s official Design Principles are available on Android’s developer website here
Daniel Kahneman’s research on human decision-making click here
Dr John Gottman research on the 5:1 ratio of positive vs negative emotions and healthy, lasting relationships click here
Barbara Fredrickson work on three positive emotions to overcome one negative emotion and psychophysiolology click here
Written by Marc Niola – The UX Acrobat
Follow Marc on Twitter: @MarcNiola