U and I

User Interface: Communicate, Direct, Alert
User Experience: Express, Emote, Experience

These two terms mean more than their current contextual usages imply. These words relate to everything we see, experience, buy, drive–things we use. We’re always excited and inspired by the new, but find it callous, cold, unusable without a familiarity from the old.

The icon on an iPhone has a traditional phone receiver as an indicator to make a call from a device that looks nothing like its predecessor. However, it does do the same thing a standard landline phone does. Their basic purpose and function remain the same. Their ergonomic functions are identical, too. They look nothing alike. Intentional or not, we’ve slowly accepted progressions like this throughout our lives. In more areas of our life aside from a phone.

There are several layers to user interface design and user experience. There will always be a compromise in designing for the few versus the many. Especially considering the rate of adaption and learning required for adaptive or just generally new things.

A year or two ago, I posted a definition for Skeuomorph. Over the years, through graphic design, writing, user interface design, art–anything that requires an expression of thought to relate to a narrowed perspective, I’ve learned that there are no rules. Only familiarity with what people know to be a norm and what people are willing to accept as a new form of graphic design, writing, user interface design, art. In my industry, clients often cling to the old, while I strive for the new, ideally we arrive at median that satisfies the people who will be exposed to the graphic design, writing, user interface design, art–things.

As I continue to re-iterate and innovate, as best as my abilities allow me to, I’ve come across another term that has been around since the 1930’s; Umwelt. “The term is usually translated as “self-centered world”. In a sense, it means; to make meaning(s) possible for you. This is a very holistic approach to how we as people communicate, navigate and express ourselves using things we didn’t necessarily create ourselves or even need initially. Familiarity often breeds contempt. Learning something new or discovering a thing that may have been previously inexpressible or hard to understand, means a lot to us as people. It’s like a leap forward. The epiphany, cognizance, awareness–we feel like our IQ jumped 10 points.

Design or create with purpose, even if it’s end purpose wasn’t your initial intention. Everything we create is utilized, seen or felt by another human being. Skeuomorph and Umwelt–I’ll be working harder than ever to express these two words in my day-to-day activities.

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