Rustbelt Refresh Recap (Conclusion) – Eric Meyer

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Eric Meyer – Compassionate Design

With an emotional and compelling presentation regarding the nature of designing a new feature, all while considering how an audience can react positively or negatively despite the target appeal of the product, Eric Meyer elegantly describes examples of compassionate design for apps and websites. This type of design mindset considers how certain features could potentially create a bad experience for someone who wasn’t the ideal user in an emotional sense, and how designers can utilize certain principles to the processes they already use in order to be more compassionate and more humane in their creation.

In a similar vein to the earlier discussion with Beth Dean on emotional intelligence, a heartbreaking moment occurred in Eric’s life to bring this topic to light for designers; his daughter tragically passed away due to a brain tumor. After her passing, he noticed a feature on Facebook that allows you to check a “Year in Review” and highlight certain posts that were popular on a person’s Facebook account. He did not wish to partake, yet one day, nearly a year after his daughter’s passing, this photo appeared in his timeline:

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A photo of his daughter. An unwanted reminder of how bad of a year he had, and how he did not have the power to opt out of seeing something he did not wish to see on Facebook, with illustrations of people dancing and throwing balloons in the air in celebration. Those illustrations show quite the opposite reaction of the event occurred a year ago that day, and anyone can deduct that this was clearly not what Facebook intended for an audience experiencing a bad year. Still, at the same time, they were never taken into consideration. All that the “Year in Review” app does is run it’s algorithm to detect which posts were popular and notify the user if they would like to share the review with friends, but no way for the user to elect not to see any of these posts.

With the information Eric has shared with us, two solutions to this problem in compassionate design are present: don’t show these posts until they’re sure the user actually wants to see their year old posts, and instead of pushing the app at people, ask them if they’d like to try a preview. If they say no, give them the option to never see the notification again. With simple considerations for those who are not within the target audience, a much friendlier platform is created, and all parties can enjoy social media without any negative reminds of posts they made earlier in the year.

To learn more about Eric Meyer and his work, check out his website or give him a follow on Twitter (@meyerweb)!

Conclusion

Rustbelt Refresh was a fantastic day full of thoughtful presentations and enlightening discussions to expand our knowledge in the world of front-end web development. After filling up our bellies full of tacos paid for by the organizers at a local restaurant, the NuRelm team returns home to Pittsburgh with newfound information and techniques to utilize for our next project to make the web a more accessible, and better place to be.

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