By Users, For Users: How Following Fun Drives User-Centered Design

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UX/UI Designer
Apr 10, 2023

Before Psyonix released its award-winning, soccer-meets-driving game, Rocket League, it first developed its lesser-known predecessor, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars. During testing and development, the studio stumbled upon a core gameplay mechanic that would become the defining feature of their game. Founder Dave Hagewood has always been a proponent of realistic physics in his games and stuck to this approach when developing the game’s speed boost mechanic. By adding a simple force to the back of the car, they found players could fly through the air to hit the ball rather than just driving on the ground. This emergent gameplay mechanic wasn't part of their initial plan, but it turned out to be one of the most fun and engaging parts of the game.

This concept of "follow the fun" is a key principle of game design, and it has a place in UX for other types of products as well. By prioritizing what's most enjoyable and engaging for players, designers can create games that people love to play. But it's not just about making games that are fun - it's also about making products that are easy to use and intuitive.

One common mistake that designers make is trying to reinvent the wheel. While it can be tempting to create something completely new and innovative, sometimes the best solution is the one that's most familiar and easy to understand.

For example, hamburger menus are a familiar UI element that many users are comfortable with, so redesigning them might just add confusion. The key is to prioritize what works best for users, not what's most exciting for designers. As my former English professor put it, don’t sacrifice your poem for your rhyme. Using premade icon sets for common concepts isn’t unoriginal or lacking in creativity—it’s smart design.

Another area where user feedback is crucial is information architecture. Designers might have a logical grouping of items in mind, but if users can't find what they're looking for, it's time to rethink the structure. 

Card Sorting is an exercise in grouping items together that we can give ourselves, our stakeholders, and our users to find out how they understand the product. User Experience Design is ultimately about combining user goals and stakeholder goals as much as possible. By listening to user feedback and testing different options, designers can create a more user-friendly experience that leads to better conversion rates. 

A/B testing is another great way to gather feedback and iterate on designs after a product is launched. By giving users options and testing different variations, designers can gather valuable insights that help improve the overall experience. Even after we’ve done our due diligence in discovery, market research, competitive analysis, and building personas, we will never know for sure our product is optimal until we’ve tested it ourselves. User feedback is evidence-based design.

“The customer is always right” doesn’t apply in micro-interactions. After all, user error exists. However, if all your users have errors, then you have a design problem. "Follow the fun," and user-centered design principles are crucial for creating engaging and enjoyable experiences. 

By listening to user feedback, iterating on designs, and testing different options, designers can create a more user-friendly experience that leads to better outcomes for everyone.

Want to build a website that is easier to navigate? Integrity has gone the UX/UI game covered. 

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