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You’re No Stranger to the Power of UI

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As I wait for my mobile carrier to come out with the iPhone, I manage to appease myself by giving my (slightly) outdated cell phone occasional “makeovers,” as I call it.  My most recent cell phone makeover consisted of a new plastic case and touch-screen protector.  Compared to my previous case and screen protector, scratched, broken, and smudged from its two-year stint, I was really pleased with my little upgrade.

The new screen protector I got is supposed to make the phone screen quality “HD,” reduce glare, and improve visual clarity.  Plus, when I’m not using it, the dimmer surface makes the screen reflective, like a mirror— an added bonus.  The new case I picked out online is practical; it will protect my phone from falls, water exposure, and other perils. Plus, it looks pretty cool (in my favorite color, hot green,) while it serves its purpose.  My cell phone makeover seems to have satisfied my desire for improved functionality, aesthetics, and even usability, without having traded it in for a smart phone.  It almost made it feel new; in fact, I was much more satisfied with it than usual.

After showing off my phone’s makeover to others, waving the mirrored screen in the faces of my unimpressed friends and family, I had an epiphany.  My self-satisfaction with my “made over” cell phone was a direct result of the new enhancements that it presented to me, the user.  I felt a dramatic appreciation for these two minor features because somehow they changed my perspective and improved my experience in using the same old cell phone.

This is a perfect example of the how an improved user interface design elicits a positive emotional reaction from the user. When a product’s interface caters to our natural human instincts and desires, it reaches a whole new level of user appeal. The aesthetics, functionality, and usability of a product are all considerations taken into account in user interface design.

When we talk about “user interface design,” “UI,” or “UX,” (specifically with regards to technology and software,) this technical terminology tends relay an empty, flat connotation.  This is ironic because user interface design is actually inseparably linked to our own human attachments and experiences with relation to the products and technologies that we use.

The hugest example of this is probably on your person right now. The iPhone uses an incredibly simple user interface design, one even a young child could operate, to control and maneuver groundbreaking features and functionality.  The user interface design of the iPhone plays a gargantuan role in our entire society’s obsession with this product.

So next time you find yourself enthralled with a website, web application, or a new high tech product, think about the degree to which the user interface design is impacting your reaction; chances are, it’s defining your overall experience.

Author Alex Stetson

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