The Founding Fathers can teach 21st-century computers some things about iterative testing. UX design is not a new phenomenon. The founders understood user experience.
UX may not be the first thing a person thinks of on Independence Day. Still, there are some user experience design lessons which can be learned from the founders’ words and deeds.
They may have looked like old men in tights, but they were masters at user research Iterators Testing and product design.
Prototype, Debate, Iterate
Think of the Declaration of Independence as an old-fashioned UI wireframe. The founding fathers didn’t rush to archetype a product and iterate the Declaration. Despite observing July 4th, the landmass which would become America constitutionally separated on July 2. Two days were used writing and rewriting — or iterating — the Declaration.
Like a real UXer, Jefferson didn’t work alone. A sort of SWAT team, consisting of five other guys in tights collaborated on the paperwork which Congress then refined. The finished Declaration was released and, well, hello July 4!
As did Jefferson, put your best UXers working on a static wireframe at the beginning of any UI design. JAM session workshops get creativity running even with merely paper prototypes.
What Is Best For The Users
Find, and do, what is best for the users and don’t worry about the C-Suite. If Washington had made the British rulers his priority and not the people, we’d all be speaking with a British accent and sipping tea at four. Lesson? The user’s needs take precedence over the assumptions of management. Often it’s not easy to defy the suits, but it wasn’t easy for Washington and Jefferson.
How do you find out what is best for users? User testing on high-fidelity prototypes is the golden rule of user-focused design. Either testing tools can be used to run remote tests, or in-person testing can be performed to observe user behavior. Run tests on prototypes instead of the final product. Changes are simple drag and drop with a prototyping tool, and who wants to spend an entire day hanging out with a grumpy development team anyway.
Not Just For Product Managers
While the Declaration was ratified on July 4, it wasn’t signed until August 2. How come? By launching the MVP in July but waiting to put their names on it, the Founding Fathers had built in enough time to apply the “build-measure-learn” process to the product.
Find Inspiration From Good Experience — Wherever You Find It
Jefferson didn’t come up with the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” prose. He lifted it from Virginia’s Declaration of rights, penned by George Mason. Jefferson wasn’t slacking; he just knew good UX when he read it — and didn’t mind appropriating it.
Thirty years into the UX revolution, designers and engineers are finally getting a grip on the UI patterns that are comfortable, and those that destroy a user’s experience. By utilizing established UI patterns, a company safeguards their design against early failure.
Maybe the Founding Fathers weren’t UX designers. There is no doubt that they put the good of the people before the interests of the few, they tested their ideas and collaborated to reach better outcomes. The spirit of Iterators Testing built the nation.