How UX Design Principles Can Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

champagne_toast-268x300Great UX design is about more than making something “pretty.” UX design should make the experience of navigating a website, app, or piece of software enjoyable and intuitive. Creativity within constraints is how our world runs, and has produced some of the best art, fashion, and yes, UX design.

Now we get to what UX design has to do with New Year’s resolutions.

Building a habit is hard. As humans, we naturally rebel against demands or “should” statements about our behaviors (especially, as Fast Company says, “when it implies some sort of judgment about our own inadequacies”). That pretty much sums up New Year’s resolutions right there – forced changes to behavior that’s deemed inadequate. No wonder it’s so hard to keep these resolutions! It’s like your mom telling you you can’t see that boy when you were in eighth grade. You wanted to see him all the more, even if you weren’t sure you liked him that much anyway. And that was just a boy, not chocolate or Netflix binge watching. Who wants to give those up?

So, how can you keep those resolutions, and how can good UX design help you? Here are some answers, courtesy of Fast Company.

Reward Yourself
Phill Ryu, co-designer of the app Clear, thinks rewards, however small, are the key to keeping resolutions. Clear is an app with a gestural interface intended to “remove any friction or distractions when creating and working in your lists.” As someone who loves lists, I can definitely get behind an even better list experience. For those of you that don’t find lists quite so enjoyable, Clear can help, too. The app aims to make crossing to-dos off a list fun, not intimidating.

Clear is subtle. It rewards you with fun noises and little inspirational quotes when you complete a task. Bring that thinking into your New Year’s resolutions and give yourself little rewards when you keep up with your resolution. If you want to exercise more, buy that new record you’ve been dying for and only listen to it when you exercise. Or, save your favorite podcasts for your time on the treadmill. You’ll be much more likely to associate exercise with fun.

Keep It Simple
Make your resolutions as easy to complete as possible. Make the resolution seem easy, light, and fun. Don’t but a lot of weight into it, don’t obsess about it and make it seem insurmountable. Know yourself, and how you operate, and try to fit your resolution into your life rather than forcing your life to bend to the resolution. Give yourself permission to make it easier on yourself. Resolutions don’t have to be painful!

UX design aims to make the website, app, or software easy to navigate so you can complete actions quickly and without a lot of pain and suffering. New Year’s resolutions should be approached in the same way.

Don’t Take On Too Much
What’s harder than starting a new habit? Building more than one habit at a time. Most New Year’s resolutions are plural, and often involve a list of things you’d like to accomplish or change in the coming year. If you’re trying to self-improve on more than one front, you might become one of those people who give up their resolutions by January 2 or 3. It’s fine to have more than one resolution for the year, but you don’t have to cram all of those resolutions into January. Consider taking it one step at a time and establish one habit before moving on to another.

Good UX design is an excellent example of this, especially in mobile apps. You have to complete one action in order to move onto the next. This consistency and “take it one step at a time” approach will really help you keep your resolutions. It will all seem much more manageable when approached in bite-sized chunks.

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