UX lessons from daily life

Part 1: Hosting guests

When we talk about user experience designers, we tend to refer to specialists who through training or experience develop a knack of identifying users’ innate wants and needs. There is no denying that UX designers trained in the field can indeed notice issues invisible to other parties and propose relevant solutions. Though I contest that designing experiences, while keeping users in mind, is a life skill available to all of us. In fact, we use it in our everyday lives more often than we believe we do!

In this series I would explore some common day to day scenarios where we extensively use UX principles without calling them so. To be honest, any number of scenarios covered would still be random pickings from a pile of equally valid hundred others.

Hosting guests

How many of us haven’t switched into a mode of frenzy at the arrival of guests? Don’t get me wrong, I am not referring to social anxiety but anxiety stemming from a basic desire to put the best front and be perceived as wonderful hosts (at least for the guests we love to entertain). Let’s admit it, we have all been there.

Here are some of the scenarios most of us act upon or at the least consider:

1 . Shifting focus from ‘me’ to ‘you’

In the hope of creating a memorable impression, we tend to analyse our own homes from the viewpoint of our guests. We put ourselves in guests’ shoes and see if their experience of our environment is good or bad. The same place which was acceptable for personal use demands altercations to create a favourable impression on them.

UX takeaway:

Always keep users’ perspective of the offering on top of one’s personal biases and preferences.

2. Letting guests have their way

Sometimes despite our level of familiarity we still may not know the exact preferences of our guests. For example: I may know my friend likes tea with cookies but what if his preferences for milk and sugar have changed lately? I would want to entertain his kids with the board game I bought the other day but what if they prefer video games instead? In such situations, we tend to make multiple options available which they can choose from and modify as per their liking.

UX takeaway:

Give users the power to customise and enhance their own personal experience of the offering.

3. Consistently engaging guests with variety

A rough plan of how to engage guests runs through a host’s mind often. Maybe welcome them with a drink, catch up on topics of common concern, follow it with light snacks, a movie at home and then take them out for dinner. Or may be something else. The good part is the more we try to engage them with varied experiences, the higher the possibility of guests loving their time with us.

UX takeaway:

Engage users with digestible chunks of fun experiences (pun intended) throughout their flow of interaction.

4. Giving them reasons to remember and return

As hosts, we hope to be remembered for the great times guests had at our place and for our hospitality. (Keeping aside situations where visitors’ behaviour made you wish to never see them again) Maybe we give their kids candies while bidding them farewell or click and share photos for keepsakes. Some of us even go to the length of giving elaborate parting gifts. With these gestures we hope they associate us with positive memories.

UX takeaway:

Add unique delight factors which create positive memory associations for the users and make them return!

Entertaining guests to perfection is an art in itself. The principles which we apply from our own understanding can give insights into fundamentals of good UX design in the virtual domain as well.

How does your ordeal with visitors go? Have you felt the presence of underlying universal principles in such situations? Would love to hear about your experiences and challenges!

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