UX Lisbon: Designing with Lenses

by Luke Wroblewski May 15, 2010

At the User Experience Lisbon (UXLX) conference in Portugal, Bill Scott outlined how design lenses can help bring focus to specific aspects of a product in his presentation: Designing with Lenses: Lessons from Other Design Crafts . Here's my notes on his presentation:

  • A design lens allows you to view the user experience from the perspective of a single design principle. Design lenses usually come from different disciplines. Four sample design lenses: simplicity/complexity, flow, supporting actor, and interesting moments.
  • The lens of simplicity/complexity: strike the balance between simplicity and complexity. Are the main things simple? Does complexity emerge as needed? Or is the interface inherently complex? Does the balance match the context?
  • Simplicity has a context. There is a balance you have to work with. Putting things in the right context is key.
  • The lens of flow: a state of heightened mental attention. Breaking visual continuity can create change blindness. Use natural transitions to keep people in the flow.
  • It’s hard to get into flow if you always have to spend time managing tools. Are you amplifying or dampening flow with your user interface tools?
  • The lens of the supporting actor: when this principle is not followed, things that should be secondary become primary. A supporting actor enhances the plot but it must use restraint not to upstage the main actor. Do supporting actors enhance the overall plot or goal?
  • Do the transitions between content in your application try to take center stage? Cut your effects in half so they don't seem cheesy one year from now. What can be done with less is done in vain with more.
  • The lens of interesting moments: an experience is an illusion -it looks simplest when every moment has been painstakingly premeditated. Have you considered all the details? Magic is both the details and the performance. It hangs in the balance of the "delicacy of illusion"
  • An interesting moments grid helps you figure out where to apply design and where not to apply design. Choose wisely which details to ignore and which ones to consider. Interesting moments work together to create an illusion.
  • Asking focusing questions helps you bring specific principles to life in an interface.