The Power of Stories for Enhanced User Experience

Posted in Inspiration2 years ago • Written by

What ticks Twitter? It is not only the best possible news feed being generated by various Twitter users but also the stories that say it all in 144 characters. Although Internet has helped humans evolve the way they communicate yet the purpose remains the same – to stay in touch, to communicate and to share each other’s stories. How we do it hardly matters nowadays. Today I will discuss how stories have been used over and over in order to attract the attention of consumers and how it can be used to build a brand.

The Emotional Touch

Most of you must have seen this video but for those who haven’t must see it once. It won’t take more than 7 minutes of your precious time and it is worth it. A young girl could silence the delegates of the so-called “legendary” United Nations just by touching their hearts. It was all about connecting emotionally with her listeners and she did just that.

We must understand that most of the times the style in which one describes products on websites is almost mechanical. We have our own set patterns and we foolishly use those patterns to write down various descriptions. It is all about the amount of time one has spent doing the same work over and over. Correct me if I am wrong?

The importance of emotional touch in write-ups (and other forms of media) cannot be understood until and unless one actually gives them a shot. Humanization of communication between a company and the end customer goes far behind user experience. Make it real and involve humans in your stories or otherwise – lose!

In the early days of the personal computer, all the display screens were black and white. When color screens were first introduced, I did not understand their popularity. In those days, color was primarily used either to highlight text or to add superfluous screen decoration. From a cognitive point of view, color added no value that could not be provided with the appropriate use of shading. But despite the fact that the interface community could find no scientific benefit, businesses insisted on buying color monitors. Obviously, color was fulfilling some need, but one we could not measure. In order to understand this phenomenon, I borrowed a color display to use with my computer. After the allocated time, I was convinced that my assessment had been correct — color added no discernible value for everyday work. However, I refused to give up the color display. Although my reasoning told me that color was unimportant, my emotional reaction told me otherwise. ~ Norman, D. A. (2002). Emotion and design: Atrractive things work better.

Quickly, What’s The Connection Between Emotion And Design?

Emotion triggers a surprise response which helps the end consumer connect with the product. We might not understand the importance of emotion as it is almost invisible but emotion does trigger thought and behavior. Underplaying the role of emotion in design (or any other product for that matter) will simply result into a design without a soul.

The emotional touch in a design helps the user understand the credibility of design and the amount of hard work that has gone into the making of that design. Also, it generates a bond of trust between the two entities. On the whole, the emotional touch will instantiate the ease of use for the end-user.

Ethnography and Stories for User Experience

Ethnography has recently started to make its way into the minds of User Experience teams and experts. Dictionary definition of ethnography is “The scientific description of the customs of people and cultures.” Lately, Ethnography made its way into corporate and consumer culture. It is being used to understand the potential buyers for a particular product. It helps one to understand the values, behavior, and motivations that drive a potential end-user. This is where the connectivity of UX with Ethnography erupted.

I am planning to do a completely different article on Ethnography and User Experience but because we are discussing stories and their effect on UX so let me take some space out to co-relate importance of stories in case of Ethnography.

Image via Stockfresh

Stories help companies connect with the end-user and nurture a bond between them. On the other hand Ethnography helps the same companies understand end-user’s daily life style and their thinking pattern. So, the science of Ethnography can use stories and their emotional power in order to connect with end users. This will help the end-user to open up with the target company and strengthen the understanding between the two.

The Importance of Water Cooler Moments

Yeah! They matter. Remember the times (which might have been yesterday for you) when you end up spending more than just a minute around the water cooler at your workplace? Stories discussed around the water cooler at times have enough importance to make or break a business deal. The amount of emotional investment that we do in such stories and their characters helps us connect with such stories.

Image via stock.xchng

What I want you to understand is if your story telling is such that the end consumer is discussing them at the water cooler in his/her company then you have pretty much done your job. In short it is the lasting impression that will make or break your end game. Story telling should be such that users are emotionally able to connect with them. I agree that Water Cooler Moments might not connect with our topic here but it is an important pit stop for your stories and your end consumer.

Summarizing the Advantages of Storytelling

I am not done yet but I hope that I have been able to give you a glimpse of what all storytelling can do and how strong your pitch can be if it is backed by a story that connects with end user. Now, let me quickly go through some of the benefits of story telling that enhances UX:

  • Regenerates dead papers by pushing life in them.
  • Simplifies designer’s perspective and helps him understand the end-user better.
  • Increases understanding between the team which is into UX as it brings everyone on a common platform.
  • Brings out the thoughts of end-user.
  • Accelerates speed of the project.
  • Improves communication between various teams as it is able to connect all of them on one single platform.
  • Value for end-user and profits for company on the whole.

Conclusion

Stories have always played a vital role in our lives since childhood. When we were kids, it was the bed time story that gave our mind the much wanted peace and helped us sleep. We might have grown up physically but still its the stories that help us connect with each other. No wonder why Twitter is ticking and no wonder that User Experience will touch heights once it stands on the pillar of stories that connect people.

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Salman Siddiqui is an alpha geek, design guru and seasoned WordPress critic. Writing, for him, started out of ego but it has become the most luring and enlightening career option of his life. He is walking that extra mile for his freelancing dream.

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