December 14, 2012
What UX Designers Can Learn From Dancers
UX design and dance have much in common, from the basic elements to the holistic experience of the performance.
Dance is an art form in which human movement becomes the medium for sensing, understanding and communicating ideas, feelings and experiences. Dance provides a way of learning—one that develops communication abilities, problem solving techniques, and creative and critical thinking skills along with kinesthetic abilities.
As creative problem solvers, UX designers can incorporate some of the principles of dance into the UX design process. Here’s how.
Simplicity. A dancer’s goal is to look graceful and make the dance look easy. A UX designer’s job is to make everything look simple for the client and user.
Movement. Movements provide the building blocks to any dance, determining where and how the dancer traverses the stage. Similarly, in UX design, users traverse through the user interface. Like a choreographer, UX designers define scenarios with personas that describe how the product will be used and how the flow will unfold.
Time. Dance and music incorporate linear time patterns, determining the dancer’s movement through time and space. Time is also important to UX designers who need to be aware of how many steps it takes the user to perform a task. If it takes too much time, or the timing is confusing, the user will get frustrated.
Patterns. As a dancer needs to correlate patterns to the music, a UX designer needs to understand user patterns such as how they interact with the software or website at hand. On the dance floor, patterns in rhythm and beats set the overall mood. Similarly, a designer needs to consider current trends or “mood” to create the appropriate designs.
Alignment. Balance and alignment are essential for dancers. Balance helps them move gracefully and perfect their technique. Having good alignment helps the audience enjoy and understand every move the dancer makes. Similarly, alignment is important to a UX designer because it makes content easier to scan and affects users’ perception of visual complexity.
Teamwork. To deliver a great performance, dancers need to work well as a team – with other dancers as well as with the production crew. Similarly, team members in the UX design realm need to stay in synch with each other, and everyone needs to understand their role.
Empathy. The dancer has to become the character. He needs to understand the character and how the music’s rhythm influences the character. Likewise, UX designers must empathize with the users in order to create the best solution. The designer has to connect with the end user – understand their mental models, predict how the user would navigate, consider their likes/dislikes.
Training. Practice is a huge factor for dancers. They train daily to develop good technique and keep their bodies in peak condition. Likewise, a UX designer must practice good research and heuristics in order to get the best user experience for the product or service. UX designers should also keep their minds in peak condition by staying on top of the latest methods and technology to develop innovative products/services.
Both dancers and UX designers take inspiration from the creative process. When you look closely, the basic elements of their craft are similar, enabling each to create final products, or performances, that are worthy of applause.