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Tedde van Gelderen

Tedde van Gelderen

Founder & President

A UX Guide to Walking Down the Street

The other day I got into this typical situation. Walking on the sidewalk, a friendly man comes from the opposite side, it looks like we’re on a collision course, we make quick eye contact to figure out which way the other will go, both adjust direction but to only find ourselves in the same situation again: on a straight path to slam into one another. So, we adjust again and… the same happens. At this point we both smile, slow down and step deliberately in one direction to avoid further confusion and avoid walking into each other.

So what does this little dance have to do with user experience design? Actually, a lot on closer inspection. It resembles in many ways the interaction between a piece of software and a user. Both want to get to the other side, both don’t want to be in the way of the other and both react to what the other is doing.

In UX space we call them User goals, Business goals, Usability and Feedback. The key difference is that one party – the software – has to be designed in such a way that it behaves like my fellow side walker; interpreting and reacting to my moves, and when they don’t get the desired result they analyze, adjust and re engage. Trial and error until we sort it out.

In UX Design we don’t Have the Luxury of Trial and Error, the software Needs to

  1.  Know what the user wants to do
  2. Give the right information and feedback at the right time
  3. Predict what the user may misinterpret
  4. Get them back on track again so they interact with the software effectively.

When you know how hard it is to pass someone on the street without potential damage, it’s easy to imagine the complexity that UX designers have to deal with, all the what-if situations the user may get into and how the software handles those situations with success. Especially if you don’t involve enough of one party in the experience design: the user.

Current experience design processes are heavily leaning towards a function first approach without sufficient thought or involvement of the end user needs, reactions and ways of reasoning when they interact with the software.

The end result is a Swiss cheese of functions and content that does its job only part of the time. The other times we’re clicking, calling, unplugging, and screaming because we ended up in the equivalent of a body crash – the other guy wasn’t able to read my mind on what I wanted to do so we both ended in the wrong place. And we both know that if we’d paid more attention to the other we wouldn’t be in this situation. Time to thoroughly involve the user in digital product design!

Tedde van Gelderen

Tedde van Gelderen

Founder & President

Continually looking for ways to improve the experiences of others, Tedde has dedicated his professional life to experience design, research and strategy. He derives energy, motivation, and purpose from improving the experiences of others and believes that every organization — and every industry — can benefit from Experience Thinking.


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.