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Foundations of UX: Logic and Content looks at how designers, developers, and content creators can use the ancient art of logic and reasoning to improve user experiences and facilitate communication. Morten Rand-Hendriksen looks at the principles of logic, how computer logic and human logic differ, and how these differences can be used to improve communication.
The core idea of logic is to create a system in which communication is clear, precise, and unambiguous, which is (or at least should be) the goal of any website or other communication.
Humans are naturally prone to organization. We organize items in groups, then name groups to simplify the world around us. We also organize items in groups to make them easier to sort and work with. In science this organization is called taxonomy. Which interestingly is a lexical ambiguity meaning both classification and the act of classification. We apply taxonomies to everything around us. Everything that pertains to the kitchen goes in the kitchen taxonomy.
All cars fall in the car taxonomy. All winter clothes go in the winter clothes taxonomy. See a pattern here? The words we use to refer to groups of items are the taxonomies of those items. There are two main types of taxonomies. Hierarchical and non-hierarchical. Most taxonomies are hierarchical. Meaning, a taxonomy can have more specific sub-taxonomies in a tree-like structure. The parent taxonomy clothes has four children. Winter clothes, spring clothes, summer clothes, and fall clothes.
These, in turn, have their own children. Pants, jackets, socks, shorts, skirts, shoes, and so on. Taxonomies are what we refer to when we apply logic rules of universality. You'll remember that in logic, you could only validly and soundly move from the universal to the particular. And now you see that this applies to everything around you. In our grouping of everyday objects, events, and instances, we produce a pattern we can apply logic to. And thanks to this pattern, we can make statements, arguments, and conclusions and communicate in an understandable way.
If you come to my house for the first time and I ask you to get me a spoon, you intuitively use this structure and logic to fulfill my request. You know that spoons go with forks and knives, which belong to the utensils taxonomy Because of their shape and size, utensils usually belong in the drawer taxonomy. And that drawer would usually reside in the kitchen. And though you may have to open a couple of drawers before you find the spoon, your chances of succeeding at the task even if you've never been at my house are extremely high, all thanks to organization and logic.
In addition to taxonomy, humans also organize events in sequences or temporality, from past to present to future. The logic of sequences like this is pretty logical. An event can only happen after its preceding event. And no new event can happen before an event that's already occured. Because all these organizational tools, taxonomies, sequences, and temporality, are understood by humans and computers on the same level. We can use them to bridge the divide in a transparent way.
While computers and humans will likely never agree on how to describe current weather conditions, we use and represent taxonomy trees and temporal order in much the same way. This means we can largely rely on the computer to provide us with an acceptable user experience when it presents us with this type of data, and all we have to worry about is making it look good.
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