Most businesses fail to predict their customers instincts even on the simplest level or they tend to overlook the details that can play a psychological role with their customers. Intuitive and seamless design is integral to business—it’s the foundation of mindset and experience.
When you approach a building’s doorway with a handle that you assume should be pushed but it’s actually meant to be pulled, you’re being set up for failure. You’re being set up to be annoyed. This is the foundation of experience and how our subconscious is affected. You’re being told you’re stupid. You’re being told that you messed up. Of course, none of these things are true, but it’s how we feel. We don’t like to be wrong, and we certainly don’t like to be embarrassed, so this small mistake takes a psychological toll on us.
Intuitive and seamless may seem like it goes unnoticed, but in reality it provides a foundation for emotional stability. Implementing systems and designs that are seamless are much like seamless or tagless articles of clothing. Sure, we’re fine with having a tag, but once we’re introduced to tagless, we recognize the itchiness we once dealt with.
Similarly, most of us have all experienced trying to open a door by relentlessly pushing it when it was actually meant to be pulled. Considering the commonness of this experience, forcing a customer to feel stress when approaching your doors is not how you should want them to feel as they enter in. This is what occurs when something as simple as the handle on a door is difficult to distinguish whether or not it should be pushed or pulled. It may come off as silly, but design and our interactions with design shape our subconscious and psychological state.
Intuitive and seamless design is about clearly and confidently setting expectations and then following through with them. Intuitive and seamless design is an easy way to build trust, but is equally, if not more, easy to develop mistrust or to even annoy and frustrate your customers when you neglect it.
Another aspect of intuitive and seamless design is enabling users or customers to do something with ease in a pleasantly natural way. Often times, customers are forced to go out of their way to do things, but since this is the only way they’ve ever done it, they make no notice of it. However, by putting customers in a position to solve problems or exert more energy than needed, you’re telling them that they don’t matter. Intuitive and seamless design is about sending a message.
Grocery stores are notorious for their negligence towards intuitive design elements. When you enter just about any grocery store, getting a hand basket or a cart always proves difficult. At its simplest form, an intuitive and seamless design system would entail always having hand baskets and carts available. Many grocery stores even have difficulty accomplishing that.
Where they’re lacking even more, is how we grab our hand basket or cart. Grocery stores tend to tuck their carts away in a room off to the side when you enter. While this does a good job of letting us know where they are, this area is rarely suited for multiple people to get a cart at one.
On the wall, there tends to be a dispenser for disinfectant wipes. This is great because it allows us, the customers, to clean our cart handle so we can be sanitary and avoid germs, however, could disinfecting the carts not be a part of the store’s protocol? Imagine if you never had to worry about wiping down your cart because you already knew it’d be clean? Would this not provide a sense of trust, security, and comfort?
Instead, customers have to clean their carts themselves, which I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed. Continuing on the subject of putting your customers in a position to do things themselves, if you’re using a hand basket at the grocery store, the likeliness of you having to bend over to grab that hand basket is extremely high. Now you may be thinking, “Matt, bending over to get a basket isn’t that big of a deal. Come on.” But here’s the thing, why shouldn’t baskets always be at a height comfortable to grab them from? Imagine how much easier it be. Imagine not having to slow down or worry about bending over in front of people? Grabbing a cart or a hand basket are some of the first interactions that occur at a grocery store, does it not make sense to start off on the right foot?
Door handles are an example of physical intuitive design where we can make it extremely evident whether or not the door is meant to be pushed or pulled. The grocery store carts and hand baskets are an example of an intuitive design system where we can create processes of ease and control. With these two examples, we can reflect on ourselves and our own businesses: how are we neglecting intuitive design? What can we do to make things seamless for our customers? What are we making them do themselves that we can make easier or even automate for them? How might we things invisibly easy for them?