Hillary: When it comes to designing in a novel space like AR, the very fact that it’s new is a challenge. You can never really know if a product is right until it’s put out into the world and receives feedback. So the first pass of any new idea has to be seen as just that. The product inevitably gets better with each version that passes, but again we have to build trust so that users come on the journey with us.
GD: Presumably the way you build that trust depends on the type of user. How do you design for different audiences?
Hillary: With experiences like AR, there’s always going to be a main target audience. At least at first: the early adopters, tech enthusiasts, and so on. But we also want to onboard as we go. So we have to make the right improvements along the way to make sure that what we’ve created is attractive to everyone; to the point where nobody is considering the technology behind it, they’re just immersed in the experience and making it their own.
Alberto: Sometimes I’m surprised by how fast people adapt to new interactions. Technology changes so fast. They optimize or upgrade all the time, and yet users keep-up, sometimes in fascinating ways I never envisaged. My young daughter, for example, uses her Pixelbook to attend digital classes… and I see her jumping between the physical and digital keyboard, or rotating the screen to do things that I never would have thought of, like putting it on top of the piano. The adoption almost outstrips the intention.
Hannes: There is certainly beauty in the diversity of products. As designers we should embrace that people appreciate choice and every person will use our products in individual ways.
Alberto: Yes, it’s true. The more I design, the more I realize there’s not one solution that fits all. Malcolm Gladwell said there isn’t one perfect spaghetti sauce, there are perfect spaghetti sauces. Different users want different things. Perhaps a designer’s role is to provide a system that’s flexible enough for users to make it their own.