What UX designers can learn from a loaf of bread
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Published on January 23, 2015
When thinking of user experience, we tend to think of apps or websites. As someone who teaches UX design courses, and practices UX as a profession, I tend to think about user experience throughout the day, but generally it is related to technology and websites. Yet recently a loaf of bread, and more specifically, toast, had me thinking about UX along with my morning coffee. Although my husband bakes bread, I occasionally will purchase a loaf from a national bakery chain that has a location near my home. Recently I purchased a large loaf of sourdough bread, which is not typically something that causes any thought to UX, but all that changed the next morning.
When cutting the bread to make toast, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that even at its largest part, a full slice of bread fully fits in the toaster. While it could be a coincidence, I'm inclined to think that someone thought about how the bread would be used. They gave consideration to the width so that it fits in a standard toaster. In UX, when designing apps or websites, we consider this a use case scenario. By planning for scenarios, UX designers create happy users. In this case, by planning for my morning toast, the bakery made me a happy customer.
The bakery realized that my interaction with the bread didn't end when it was purchased and taken home. As a consumer, I'm now confident that the bread fits in my toaster, and will be more inclined to buy it again.
App developers and website designers should gave the same level of consideration to what they are producing their work. Because the use case led to a good experience, the level of engagement rises. For the baker, this means selling more bread. For app developers and web designers, this means happier customers or internal users, which can lead to increased productivity for internal apps, more sales for e-commerce sites, or reduced support costs. As UX professionals, we can learn a great deal from a loaf of bread, or at least from the baker. While the UX classes at American Graphics Institute won't teach you how to bake, they will show you the process and design-thinking mentality to produce stand-out apps and websites
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.