Adam Tedeschi Team : User Experience Tags : Technology Common Sense User Experience

One of us, one of us... smart phones, dumb humans

Adam Tedeschi Team : User Experience Tags : Technology Common Sense User Experience

I recently read an article about a young woman’s experiment to give up her smart phone in favour of an old Nokia to see what effect it had on her life. A one month experiment that she has turned into a rule.

Our smart phones are amazing. I recently wrote a blog called “If you love your phone so much why don’t you marry it?” and also presented about Responsive Design at a recent industry event - and I haven’t stopped thinking about the impact my phone is having on my happiness since then.

“Stop wasting time with your phone and start spending time with me”

I have a 22 month old toddler, named Anne, and she is hard work (but worth it of course). She demands attention constantly. But so does my phone. Emails, messages, calls, Facebook, and useless crap – what am I to do? Well, Anne has a simple idea. Whenever she sees myself or my wife silently using our phone she marches up to us, points at it, shouts “No” and then points to the nearest table. The message is pretty clear “Stop wasting time with your phone and start spending time with me”. She is smarter than us all.

I am not the first to point out that on every form of public transport, if you look around, you see people hunched over their phone. Playing Candy Crush, tweeting about other passengers and generally ignoring life. We are so connected we separate ourselves from everything around us. It’s crap! Sad, lonely, boring. I am over it.

People at concerts hold up their phone and watch it through the viewport, filming a grainy, blurry image of something they could see in brilliant clarity if only they looked. All so they can post it on Facebook or Instagram with a self-satisfying comment. Well done. You attended a concert.

Some people take photos of their coffee, or their breakfast (my wife is one, sorry to call you out). But big deal, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing… it’s not very interesting in my opinion but who I am to judge? I often take a picture of the beer I am drinking so that my friends can see I am drinking a beer – for some reason I assume they care.

But what to do? Give up the convenience of not having to think? Why plan a route when we can just use Google maps? Why plan a night out when you can just arrive and text 15 people at once to see who is closest? Why talk to someone when you can text them?

Another question? What has this got to do with anything about web design, user experience or design? Well, it has a lot to do with human nature and how we connect to each other and to brands. Although we are arguably becoming dumber about life, are we becoming more complex in the way we interact and influence each other? Psychologists have long been studying how humans interact with other humans and uncovering all the good, the bad and in-between of those relationships. Now, user experience designers and researchers are doing the same with technology. Not necessarily to help them maintain healthy relationships, but how to better connect them to a brand, a product or a service. And it is bloody interesting.

We are slaves. Every now and again someone, like the woman in the article, break free. All too often they return to their master. So it’s best to understand how this affects what we do day to day in the design of products and website experiences.