I was torn as to what i should write about for this week:
I was first attracted to what Levin on p. 35 of “The Consistent Design Approach” discusses as “alternative input methods”—which in disability discourse has been referred to as “accomodation.” But lest I should bore you all (and myself) with an extended discussion of “-isms,” I allowed myself to fix on what is perhaps the center of the chapter: that the “core experience,” or the value proposition of a thing expressed as an affective experience. Levin tells us that “core experience” is what UX must be centered upon in order to be effective—or to which it must be reduced in the case of small-format mobile devices. Then he gives us the example of Starbucks and alleges that “at the end of the day, the core Starbucks experience is the same” regardless of pastry offerings and seating arrangements.
This led me to think about why certain of my friends and I go to Starbucks: it is to meet men, which is a difficult proposition when one is in her early 30s and most of the men she meets are likely to show up in her classroom, rack up felonies, lecture her on the evils of shopping for pleasure, or—in one unfortunate instance—all three.
Without giving up anyone’s particular tastes, the Starbucks in question has the following going for it. First, it is near the law school, police and fire stations, and downtown businesses, and is therefor frequented by men who can be described by at least two of the following qualia: financially solvent, professional, law-abiding, out of undergrad, and in shape. Second, the Starbucks in question features a long worktable that seats 8 (it used to have 3 more tables that seated 4 each, now removed) and runs parallel to the queue that forms in front of the register—so whether one is in line or working at the table, there are many opportunities for inviting conversation. Third, it works. (Really. Try it!)
The man-meeting affordances I’ve just described have nothing to do with what Levin identifies as Starbucks’s “core experience” in his book. And because I’m running out of space, the moral of the story: UX designers and IAs who direct them, make sure you really know your audiences, plural—and create not only UX that is flexible enough to accommodate them, but inference-driven IA that is smart enough to identify them in the first place. (My Starbucks visibly lost business after it pulled those 4-person tables out; not a coincidence.)