I recently discovered a new approach to check if the usability of my design is right. And I do this by comparing my design to a human conversation because a design is often nothing more than a good conversation with the user, right?

Let’s start with an example. Let’s say you are designing a webshop for TV’s, sounds fun? Then the next thing to do is to wonder how selling a TV in real life might be. And the outcome of this will serve as input for your design; what steps do I need to design for finding a TV?

Most online webshops present the user with a vast variety of televisions. If you translate this to a conversation in store, you get this:

User: *walks into a store because he decided he wants to buy a new TV*.
A written sign says: “Welcome, we have 500+ TV’s, they are hard to distinguish, but good luck finding one!”

As you can see, that is not something we want. Never the less, this is how many webshops operate, unfortunately. So let’s think about how a good conversation might look like.

User: *walks into a store because he decided he wants to buy a new TV*.
Salesman: Good day sir, how may I help you?
User: Well, I’m looking for a new TV.
Salesman: Alright, do you have any idea of what you want?
User: No, not really.
Salesman: Alright, let’s start with the size, how far away are you usually sitting from your television?”
User: Usually about 4 meters.
Salesman: Alright, then something between 55 and 65 inches might be optimal *points his finger at a nearby 55 inch TV*, does that feel alright to you?
User: Yes, sure!
Salesman: Alright, what do you usually watch on your TV? Games, regular television, movies or sports?


You can probably already imagine that something like this will translate in a completely different design. Perhaps an optional step by step progress to find the right TV? A build in live chat? A design that will definitely help the user find the right TV, without being overwhelmed by the vast amount of available options.

You can use this approach in two situations.
1. You take on the role of usability expert, and you check if the live website or current design has room for improvement.
2. You take on the role as designer and have a blank page in front of you; the entire design still has to be created.


I hope this approach will help you with your next design. Next time you are designing an interface, try to translate it into a conversation, and ask yourself: what does the ideal conversation look like? The design will not only be more useful for the user, but also more human.

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