Thursday, April 08, 2010

Lessons in design from a life well-loved

The theme of the past couple of weeks in my life has been one of putting others ahead of yourself. First, there was the usability design class I'd been taking the past two Wednesdays. Then there was the passing of a lovely 100-year-old woman - my grandmother-in-law - Grandma B.
The key takeaway from the course was to make the user of your (... software, device, or website... ) "king". Their needs, their feelings about the designed (, device, or website...) trump all other considerations. You should never design a website based on what you personally find "cool" or think is best without at least running it past others - in other words, doing usability tests throughout your design process and taking to heart what users have to say about what you're building.
At the same time, I've been thinking about what made Gram so special to everyone whose lives she touched and what made her able to live so long - and honestly, I think it was that she always thought and cared about others. She remembered everyone's birthdays, their relationships and their people, who was important to them. That's one lesson that Gram could teach us all, and it's one that could even guide those of us involved in designing websites - what is important to others? Others' needs and feelings must guide our designs, rather than our own opinions or thoughts on what we think is important. If we prioritize the needs and emotions of others as we design, we will create a positive (and hopefully long-lived) relationship with the users of our sites (or devices or software).
So Gram, thank you for all of your lessons.

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