I was asked recently what my inspiration for user experience was. Usually you would probably cite other designers or blogs but for me life is the best inspiration.
I spent 2015 in New York City. I was working for UK clients but at the same time pursuing my Street Photography (you can see it here). One of the most striking things about being in New York was that I was suddenly plunged into a world that was the same but totally different. I had never considered that a new country had formed its basic structure on alternative ideas on how to achieve the same results. Light switches in bathrooms, subway stations that didn’t allow you to go from the northbound side to the south bound without leaving the station and crossing the road are just two examples of how it does things differently.
So it made me think about the usability of life and how we do them in the UK and how these ideas are turned on their head when you go to a different country.
Jakob Nielsen used to say back in the 90’s that websites should be like cars. No matter what car you get in you do a few basic things before you set off. You wiggle the gear stick, you look for the ignition key, the indicators and probably where the horn is. Once you have done this you are pretty much good to go but this hides the years of development in making the usability of a car standardised. They can be different price ranges, different dashboard designs but the basic tools to get you moving have all become the same. This sophisticated simplicity is taken for granted and I think this is my biggest inspiration when I design my projects, we want new ideas and new technology fosters new approaches but common sense and an appreciation of the basics of how we interact with our world.