“A combination of the how, with the when and why.” That’s UX Choreography explained by Rebecca Ussai of digital agency R/GA.
In a unique presentation, Ussai was joined by former Disney animator Glen Keane. Keane who is well known for his works on “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and a host of other popular animated films from his 37-year career at Disney. He now works with Motorola, which has partnered with Google to created interactive animated films including “Duet.”
Ussai and Keane teamed up to show how important design principles carried through numerous digital mediums, and each share their take on five key principles.
- Feedback - This involves letting user know that their action was successful. In UX (user experience) design, you recognize it as a “loading” icon or a sound that is made as you successfully navigate an application.
- FeedForward - What do you want the user to accomplish? You need to give them hints to the next step and how things fit together. Conveying possible interaction will let the user know what to expect. In terms of animated film, you build anticipation to set up what’s about to happen, much like in UX design. Your user is not clear on what needs to happen, unless you provide a signal.
- Spatial awareness - This is the concept of orienting the user within the environment and clarifying relationships between elements. Keane referenced the old animation saying of “every line is related to another line.” Just as in UX design, you have to strategize how to properly use screen real estate to best show where a user has been and where they are going.
- User focus - How do you guide the attention of a user and clarify specific changes? By using design to show the user where to focus. Ussai says this is accomplished in UX by “adjusting controls for the user based on the moment in time.” Tools or elements are only shown when needed, everything else fades away and the focus is placed on the task at hand.
- Brand “tone of voice” - According to Ussai, Brand tone and the details that add personality might be the most important. These are those “surprise and delight moments” that influence the emotional experience. Keane also gave his perspective as an animator, saying that it’s all about appeal and “the harmony of elements.” What makes your design uniquely you?
In any medium, these are valid principals. As Ussai summed it up, it’s all about “Entrance. Performance. Exit” no matter what medium you are approaching.
Keane closed the session by premiering a demo of “Duet” in interactive format, allowing a mobile user to follow whichever character they chose. I’ve honestly never seen anything quite like it. These are the types of projects Keane has been working on with Google, and there are more planned in the near future, pushing the boundaries in digital design and user experience.