This is a series exploring the theme of the month from Creative Mornings. To explore more of the series, click here.

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

I did not like Philosophy in school.

In fact, I hated it. I wasn’t interested in sitting in a class debating how everything might be true or nothing might be true, because who knew if truth existed or if we even existed? At that time in my life, I was deeply involved with the evangelical church and unable to entertain any belief that didn’t have the Bible at the center of truth. I was holding fast to one perspective and thinking about the possibility of any other perspective wasn’t just silly, it was an utter waste of time.

Fast forward ten years, and I found myself realizing I wasn’t straight and grappling with everything I’d been taught. My entire worldview was turned on its head. Reading other Christian denominations’ perspectives and other religions’ perspectives, I found everyone believing their perspective to be truth, and, usually, the single, solitary, best, only real truth. Based on their own assertions, it wasn’t possible that everyone was right. I was forced into an impossible philosophical conundrum—how I wish I’d paid more attention in philosophy class! People who love philosophy love not having answers!

Add another ten years, and my perspective from my young self has greatly shifted. I’m not as far gone as Nietzsche, but I believe much more that the world is a place of grays, not black and whites. Considering other perspectives isn’t only interesting, it’s necessary, both personally and professionally. But if I hadn’t been forced into a crisis of faith and identity, I’m not sure if or when I would’ve learned that.

Perspective and User Experience

“One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.”

― Tim Burton

In order to be an effective designer, it’s imperative to seek out different perspectives. It’s ill-advised to design or build something just because you like it. In order to be an effective business owner, you must seek out the perspective of your user and think about their entire customer journey.

User experience: A person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service.
ISO 9241-210, Ergonomics of human-system interaction—Part 210: Human-centered design for interactive systems

Questions to ask when redesigning your business’ website:

  • Does your copy speak to your target audience?
  • Do your images relate to your target audience?
  • Does your audience understand your offering?
  • Why does your user need your offering?
  • What are the common pain points between a potential user and your offering?
  • How are you building trust with your audience?
  • Is it intuitive for a user to engage with your offering?
  • What is the onboarding process for your offering?
  • What is the support process with your offering?
  • What is the long-term relationship with your users?

Need help thinking through these questions for your website?

How to Understand Your User

There are a lot of ways to engage with user experience: surveys, interviews, a/b testing, and more. For most small businesses and non-profits, you most likely won’t have a complicated interface that needs to be formally tested. Instead, lean on a qualified designer who has studied the years of user testing that’s been done on “typical” websites. Common principles of design like hierarchy, white space, contrast, and emphasis work hand-in-hand with user-centered copywriting to help you tell your story online and drive the right audience to the right conversion.

If you’re interested in getting your hands dirty, the easiest way to understand your users’ perspective is to ask. A feedback form is a simple way to ask how your website is performing, but make sure it’s a specific question. You’ll receive more responses if you send emails (and give an incentive). Some websites have started using pop-up surveys to gather user feedback. Personally, I find them super annoying, but it is something to test to determine if it works for your business and your users.

If you’re creating a product or complicated website, you can implement formal usability tests to gather feedback. A usability test has a participant and facilitator. The facilitator asks the participant to complete various tasks and records the participant’s behavior and feedback. After looking at the results of all the tests, you’ll have a pretty good idea if your interface works as intended.

“It’s important to understand other’s perspectives, because we don’t live in a world by ourselves.

— My mom

Perspective is what explains our understanding of design, influences our approach to life, and shapes the decisions we make in business. From narrow belief to a broader understanding, the journey of expanding our perspective is both a personal evolution and a professional necessity.

It’s critical to remain open to the plethora of interpretations of the world around us. User experience invites us to consider different perspectives and their intrinsic value. Valuing diverse perspectives is fundamental to creating more inclusive, empathetic, and effective solutions in every aspect of our lives.