I gave a talk at Better Software Con earlier this month in Las Vegas, titled Avoid Critical UX Mistakes to Delight Your Users. One of the threads in my talk was about really understanding the user’s perspective, because by understanding the user’s viewpoint, you can avoid critical UX mistakes. However, what that takes is empathy. Not just touchy-feely sympathy where you cry because you understand the pain that someone is experiencing due to the loss of their beloved pet bird, but rather, truly stepping into the other person’s shoes and walking with them through each event. In this case, you have to step into the user’s shoes and actually think like and be the user when using a mobile application. And to do that, you have to consider their motives and behaviors. What do they like? If it’s a wearable, is the user left-handed or right-handed?

I decided to examine my trusty Garmin 920XT watch and I tried NX_cyclist_sideapplying basic UX design principles to how I configure and use it. My first observation what that the way I had it configured in default mode was totally opposed to the way I actually use the watch. As I state in my workshops many times, you must start with thinking of what tasks the user will execute. For some reason, I never thought of this for myself! So I started thinking, What kinds of situations do I normally encounter and which tasks do I normally expect to complete with the watch?

Applying UX Design With My Top 5 Tasks

  1. Telling time – This one’s pretty obvious, but it’s essentially the most important task. I’m always going between calls and appointments, but I cycle to relax and have fun (plus, for the exercise!). I have to be able to decide while on my bike if I should cut the ride short or if I have time to extend it.
  2. Cadence intervals – This is a great measurement to monitor when building up leg speed, either in running or cycling. In these short intervals I try to maintain a very high cadence. My heart rate usually goes up too, but I’m more focused on leg speed. The more accurate this is, the better.
  3. Heart rate intervals – All I want to know is if I’m taxing my cardiovascular system so that I can maintain my cardio strength and health. I can do this in a variety of interval lengths and heart rates combined with different length rest times in between intervals.
  4. General summary – Many times, I’m out riding and I just want to know in general how I’m doing and how far I’ve gone.
  5. Task screens – For each of these tasks, I configured a separate screen. I can swipe through them quickly and check the information that the watch is relaying back.

This watch can do what I want it to do, and it’s obvious that care was put into the UX design. Applying UX design principles can be done with much of the configurable equipment in our lives, from the way we arrange our silverware and furniture to how we organize our closets. I had a lot of fun thinking of my top 5 tasks and how I configure my Garmin and I’m sure you will too.