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Semiotics and User Experience Design

Posted by alexander on Feb. 28, 2015, 5 p.m.

Concerns of UX and UI are fundamentally concerns of representation. In designing an interface, we are committing to what we believe to be the most effective way of communicating the system's requirements. We are communicating those intentions through a (mostly) visual medium. One wonders by what criteria are we equipped to make these decisions? There is a history of user interface design available to us, of course, with a body of usability testing. But when approaching a new type of interface, is it really that we should guess at the best mode of conveyance and then hope later usability testing bears out our assumptions?

An important resource in our practice of user experience is Semiotics, the study of signs. Semiotics provides us with a framework by which we may begin to understand the process of representation. The language and concepts we develop during the course of our investigation make us better able to speak about the concerns of digital communication and can ultimately provide governance over our construction of user experience.

In future articles we'll look at some of what we've learned from the study of Semiotics.