A few quick thoughts on UX design mid our eCommerce project. I realized that designing from the perspective of the user experience was great until suddenly we needed one more button than I found visually pleasing. Design and usability are far from being at complete odds with each other, but it does add another hurdle for the aesthetics. In some ways I wonder if this added element actually forces the creator to find an even better visual design at the end of the day because it might make the designer rethink the process one step further than before — limitations often create ingenious results.
But the strangest experience I have had so far on this project has been working with an undergraduate. Since all of the user personas are people buying on the site as a gift for someone else, this affects the way they shop. There is definitely a difference between shopping for oneself and shopping for others. This added an extra point of contention on our design collaboration. Our undergraduate team member has actually never bought a present for someone else. This made it very difficult for her to understand the point of view of the user personas as different from her own shopping needs. Thank goodness for user testing! It’s so much easier to simply throw a version down and user test it to decide what to do rather than waste time trying to bridge differences of opinion. Although I suspect some world experience is probably beneficial in a field that requires understanding usability from many different perspectives.