31st March 2017
The New Rules of Web Design
Okay so yes there are some pretty obvious differences like the fact the construction industry creates actual physical objects people walk through, over and generally interact with whereas UX Design works more in virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality. If you really look into the processes and the fundamental values of the two industries then you could say that construction is UX designs great uncle (maybe, once or twice removed).
Traditionally speaking construction is probably considered to be quite an “old school” industry. This is not too surprising when you consider that humans first built some sort of structure (albeit out of animal bones and skin) to shelter them from the elements around the ice age period and have progressed since then over millions of years to smart buildings and skyscrapers. UX design, however, has a much more recent history with the first ever website being launched in 1991 with absolutely no thought about design anywhere on it, to the impressive well thought out, researched and considered websites we see today.
While these two things evolved at very different times and rates, nowadays they aren’t too far
Apart. Architectural design is basically UX design on a physical and spatial level, where space is just another medium and buildings and structures are the interfaces and the frameworks that users can interact with. A building then is a tangible version of a mobile app.
And there are quite a few obvious parallels that can be drawn between them…
UX designers discover problems with the way in which a website or app works and through a process of research and testing will come up with a solution to the initial problem. Similarly, in construction, the architect must consider what functionality or use the building may need and how they can make it work towards that purpose as best as possible.
“Whether you’re building a cathedral or a website, you start with a goal, work through the mess and draw up the plans so you can create a concrete product users can easily use”
In the same way as how a website has a homepage that the user may revisit more than once while on a website to help them navigate to other pages, a building usually has a living room, foyer or reception area.
In both cases, there will always be a common space that connects all the other spaces together in order to aid navigation and enhance the user experience.
Navigation in architecture and construction can be as simple as “Entry/Exit Only” signs above a door or a simple and intuitive flow of corridors and hallways and overall layout of a structure with clear direction. Navigation through a website, similarly, may include obvious, and well-labeled call to actions on every page in order to lead you through the website.
They may use almost an identical process to create the product and solve problems within it but at the end of the day an architect will produce a physical building and a UX designer will produce something digital (website, app etc.)
Despite this difference, there are actually probably plenty of techniques that architects or even anyone within the construction industry can learning from UX design as it is a relatively young industry with a different outlook on problems, and solving them, then that of the construction and architectural industry a much older form of design. Likewise, UX designers could probably learn a thing or two from the construction industry as experience is always valuable.
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