The Internet has forever changed the way information is consumed and shared. In today’s world, everyone has access to the Internet and it is a place where anything from shopping to education can be done. This new realm of connectivity and interaction has therefor ushered in a new arena for designing. No longer are audiences restricted to the limitations of print, but can have a multidimensional experience by connecting with a companies website.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the foundation of a good website is still a good design. While the Internet provides a way for audience interaction, the functionality and overall structure has to be based on the principles of design. A website with all the bells and whistles but that is not graphically appealing, will not elicit a positive viewer response.
Besides sticking to fundamental design principles, research has also been done on the kind of visuals that are applicable for the different kinds of websites. For example, an editorial structure needs to be easily read, so the layout usually echo’s styles common to printed publication design. Whatever the target audience is, it is important to keep web design as simple as possible, and to make clear how the viewer can operate the site with limited instruction.
With all of the information that needs to be translated into the virtual world, the best way to begin designing a website is to do flow charts and comps of the different website pages. Wireframes are the most useful way to start developing a layout.
User Experience dates all the back to the early 19th and 20th centuries. Although it is a term used in modern vernacular to refer to a field of design, its origins can actually be traced back to the machine age.
The machine age was a time of pioneering new ways to make human labor more efficient, productive and routine. People like Frederick Winslow Taylor, and Henry Ford, sought to increase the efficiency of interactions between workers and their tools. Then, with the eruption up WWI and WWII, a new body of research emerged that focused on how to best design equipment and devices to align with human capabilities.
As science and industry gained momentum, more focus was paid to the purpose of interactions between product and audience. Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss wrote Designing for People, a classic design text that put people first. In his book, Dreyfuss described successful design as one that made people “safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient—or just plain happier—“ At the same time cognitive science was emerging as a field of study that combined human cognition with concepts such as artificial and machine intelligence. These cognitive scientists were interested in the potential of computers to serve as a tool to augment human mental capacities.
However, it wasn’t until 1990 that the term UX was actually used by a design professional to describe his profession. This man was Donald Norman. Norman was a cognitive psychologist that joined Apple and described his position there as a User Experience Architect. According to Norman, he chose that title because he thought Human Interface and usability were too narrow. He wanted to cover all aspects of a person’s experience with a system; this included industrial design, graphics, the interface, and the physical interaction.