There’s a huge gap between Linguistics and User Experience research. This site aims to bridge that gap.
UX could be dramatically changed through considering language on two dimensions:
People have strong, embodied mental representations—as evident in the language they use—and design decisions should adhere to these representations.
The language users employ when describing their experiences can yield insights into how products should be changed to optimize user experience.
Let’s start with an example.
English speakers readily understand time along a left-to-right axis. This is based on cultural conventions like writing, calendars, and timelines.
Despite this fact, blogs and websites continually adhere to a top-to-bottom progression of time, with the most recent above and the oldest below. This is not how English speakers naturally or conventionally think about time. It’s a modern imposition.
Teamcoco.com recently employed an outstanding example as to how video queues could employ a left-to-right progression.
Notice the timeline at the top of the screen. The videos follow a left-to-right progression, with each video identified as a ‘stop’ along the timeline. This layout beautifully takes advantage of English speakers’ natural space-time topography, or their understanding of time along fine-grained physical axes.
Contrast this with YouTube’s approach.
Ignore the fact that the Flight of the Conchords are clearly crushing it and hone in on the video queue on the right side. The next video to be played is in the upper right, and future videos are below. In other words, the queue makes use of a vertical, future-down timeline.
Though this progression is perfectly sensible for Mandarin speakers (who happen to conceptualize time along a vertical axis), it is not particularly natural for English speakers.
In addition, because teamcoco’s approach is a more natural way for English speakers to think about the progression of events (and videos), it simultaneously gamifies the videos, such that each video is a natural stop on a journey, and the user wants to complete the trip.
But this is just a hypothesis, and it leads me to this proposed UX study: Utilizing a natural left-to-right axis as opposed to a top-to-bottom queue, such as those above, leads to users more frequently completing all videos in the series.
Who wants to run this study with me?
Well played, Coco. Well played.