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An Oracle blog about Application UX

UX Empathy and the Art of Storytelling

Karen Scipi
Principal User Experience Engineer, Oracle Applications User Experience

At this year’s Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland, I had the opportunity to observe thousands of attendees. They came from 135 different countries and represented different generations.

Despite these enormous differences, they came together and communicated.

But how? With all of the hype about how different communication styles are among the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Generation Zers, I expected to see lots of small groupings of attendees based on generation. And I thought that session audiences would mimic this, too. But I could not have been more wrong.

How exactly, then, did speakers, panelists, and interviewers keep the attention of attendees in the 50+ crowd, the 40+ crowd, and the 20+ crowd while they sat in the same room?

The answer is far simpler than I could have imagined: Authenticity. They kept their messages simple, specific, honest, and in context of the audience and the medium in which they were delivering them.

Web Summit: Estee Lalonde in conversation at the Fashion Summit session "Height, shoe size and Instagram followers please?"

Web Summit: Estée Lalonde (@EsteeLalonde) in conversation at the Fashion Summit session "Height, shoe size and Instagram followers please?"

Simplicity in messaging was key across Web Summit sessions: Each session was limited to 20 minutes, no matter whether the stage was occupied by one speaker or a panel of interviewees. For this to be successful, those onstage needed to understand their brands as well as the audience and what they were there to hear.

Attention spans are shortening, so it’s increasingly critical to deliver an honest, authentic, personally engaging story. Runar Reistrup, Depop, said it well at the Web Summit when he said:

Web Summit: Runar Reistrup in conversation during the Fashion Summit session "A branding lesson from the fashion industry"

Web Summit: Runar Reistrup (@runarreistrup) in conversation during the Fashion Summit session "A branding lesson from the fashion industry"

While lots of research, thought, and hard work goes into designing and building products, today’s brand awareness is built with social media. Users need to understand the story you’re telling but not be overwhelmed by contrived messaging.

People want to connect with stories and learn key messages through those stories. Storytelling is the important challenge of our age. And how we use each social medium to tell a story is equally important. Storytelling across mediums is not a one-size-fits-all experience; each medium deserves a unique messaging style. As Mark Little (@marklittlenews), founder of Storyful, makes a point of saying, "This is the golden age of storytelling.

The Oracle Applications User Experience team recognizes this significance of storytelling and the importance of communicating the personality of our brand. We take time to nurture connections and relationships with those who use our applications, which enables us to empathize with our users in authentic ways.

Web Summit: Aine Kerr talking about the art of storytelling

Web Summit: Áine Kerr (@AineKerr) talking about the art of storytelling

The Oracle simplified user interface is designed with consideration of our brand and the real people—like you—who use our applications. We want you to be as comfortable using our applications as you are having a conversation in your living room. We build intuitive applications that that are based on real-world stories—yours—and that solve real-world challenges that help make your work easier.

We experiment quite a bit, and we purposefully “think as if there is no box.” (Maria Hatzistefanis, Rodial)

Web Summit: Maria Hatzistefanis in conversation during the Fashion Summit session "Communication with your customer in the digital age"

Web Summit: Maria Hatzistefanis (@MrsRodial) in conversation during the Fashion Summit session "Communication with your customer in the digital age"

We strive for finding that authentic connection between the simplified user interface design and the user.  We use context and content (words) to help shape and inform what message we promote on each user interface page. We choose the words we use as well as the tone carefully because we recognize the significance of messaging, whether the message is a two-word field label or a tweet.  And we test, modify, and retest our designs with real users before we build applications to ensure that the designs respond to you and your needs.

If you want to take advantage of our design approach and practices, download our simplified user experience design patterns eBook for free and design a user experience that mimics the one we deliver in the simplified user interface. And if you do, please let us know what you think at @usableapps.

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