Standing on principles
I signed up for a UX of “online” learning event this week on LinkedIn and started to wonder why we still have to differentiate learning as “online”. I understand that an online environment has unique challenges and opportunities but how much longer will we need to classify it as a separate type of learning?
When my students use YouTube to discover new techniques or collaborate with friends through social media to prepare for an upcoming assignment they don’t refer to it specifically as “online.”
Is it simply because “online” is newer that we feel the need to make the distinction? Traditional education has interesting characteristics that impact the process of learning since it is quite different than the environments we have naturally learned in through most of human history.
Reviewing visual design principles this week reiterated how important these are for effective design and how they can and should be applied no matter what environment, tool, or medium you are working with.
Applying these in the UX field and specifically with digital devices helped me appreciate how these principles are effective because of how they help communicate on at a deeply human level and not simply because we have access to new technologies. We can see these in action way back to cave paintings up to modern 3D movie experiences.
Let’s review some of the principles by looking at them in action from very different scenarios:
Spaces that feel comfortable and are visually appealing will use balance whether they exist in reality or virtually.
Organizing content in a systematic manner is helpful for finding the information you are looking for whether searching for critical democratic ideals or the perfect swim suit for the summer.
Immersing someone in a game by defining the objects to be manipulated from the overall setting is critical whether the player is physically contacting the pieces or engaging with a screen.
Photographing a beautiful landscape with contextual clues about size and space engages the viewer in the scene whether creating that image with film for a physical paper print or doing it digitally to be viewed on a screen.
I think all of this is a great reminder to start and stay focused on the fundamentals no matter who you are designing for or what environment it is taking place in. Obviously, these differences matter but ignoring the principles that help in all situations seems like a recipe for disaster no matter how many environment-specific modifications you make with your design.