How to Turn Data into Insight for Better UX Design

Building the perfect product or experience requires good UX. People nowadays just expect simple designs and enlightening, intuitive experiences from the products they use—but how are those experiences crafted?

This is Part 1 of 3 in our UX for Data Mining series, where we’ll discuss the origins of UX and its course of development over the years.

A Brief History of UX

Early 1900s – rise of the machine age
In the early 1900s, people started using machines to do their jobs. Mass production of automobiles, trains, aircraft, steel, printing presses, electric power, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and so on, all led to mass markets and consumerism. It became very important to make machines as efficient as possible, in order to increase human productivity.

First half of the 1900s
Industrial designers started designing for people by researching and understanding human needs, which developed into human factors and ergonomics. User-friendliness became a key aspect of design, with people put first. Industrial designers wanted to make sure that interactions between people and systems or products were as frictionless as possible, and even comfortable to use.

Mid 1900s
Toyota was one of the first major companies to contribute to human factors and ergonomics. One of the core philosophies at Toyota was ‘respect for people’. They treated their workers as the main contributors to the business, in order to improve processes and increase efficiency.

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Henry Dreyfuss – ‘Design for People’
Henry Dreyfuss was a globally-recognized industrial designer that received numerous awards for consumer and commercial products. He contributed to and influenced the philosophy of human factors and consumer research on many levels. Dreyfuss applied a scientific approach to design problems and improved the look, feel and usability of a lot of products we would all recognize.

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1970s – Xerox (PARC) research center
Founded in 1970, in the heart of Silicon Valley, PARC pioneered many technology platforms, from the Ethernet and laser printing to GUI (graphical user interface), mouse and computer generated graphics. It greatly influenced Apple’s designs, as a number of GUI engineers went on to join Apple Computer.

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1980s-1990s- Rise of personal computing
GUI, cognitive sciences, and designing for and with people emerged as the field of HCI (human-computer interaction). HCI focuses on researching how people interact with computers. It covers usability and interaction design, which are very important to UX.

Mid-late 1990s- Web and Internet bubble
This was a time of a dramatic change in how we consumed the Internet and Web. More and more businesses and services established an Internet presence, and that presented a huge opportunity for people interested in the field. Roles such as Web Designer, Interaction Designer, and Information Architect emerged. While we’re on the topic of interaction designers and web designers, if you’re looking for such services, you may want to check out a website developer in Ontario for further support.

As people started to gain more experience and deeper understanding of human behavior, UX started developing along with it. Web designers, interaction designers, and information architects began exploring how humans and computers could work together, and how users interact with machines, applications and different technologies.

Mid 1990s
Don Norman came up with the term “User Experience” and was the first one to officially hold a User Experience Architect title at Apple. Don Norman is a recognized cognitive scientist, usability engineer and designer. He is a director of The Design Lab at University of California, San Diego and a co- founder of Nielsen Norman Group, which is a leading user experience consulting firm.

In the next article (Part 2 out of 3), we discuss the different levels of processing in the human brain and why understanding all three of them are crucial in designing great user experiences.