7 Techniques For Better User Experience Inspired By Walt Disney

Lately, I have encountered this amazing article that says that The World’s First UX Designer was Walt Disney.

Walt Disney knew that The best way to give other people positive experiences is by telling them a story.

His experience design legacy continued until this very day.


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Let’s take example from one of my favorite and latest Disney movies “Moana”.

Princess Moana, daughter of the chief of the village of “Motunui” since the day she was born wanted to explore the ocean.

Her deeper needs to voyage the ocean conflicts with what her family and society had in mind for her.

They wanted her to stay on the safe ground to lead them, without taking any unusual risks.

Princess Moana was struggling to listen to her heart and connecting with the deeper parts of herself.

While watching “Moana” I imagined all of the times when the conflicts in my life were between listening to my heart to doing what’s expected of me.

When I first watched “Moana” I subbed with tears as I felt a shared experience with the main character.
I assume I am not the only one that can relate to that feeling.

That’s deep, And that’s exactly how we supposed to provide an experience to our audience.

Since the beginning of mankind, stories were meant to share a common experience, entertain or teach.

Using storytelling techniques, we can improve the user experience by telling better stories.

On the next article, I collected 7 storytelling techniques inspired by Walt Disney that would improve our storytelling skills.


It’s Mostly About First Impression

When writing a script, the opening paragraph is important because it’s what pulls in the reader and gets him stick around. The same goes with the first impression of the users of your product.

On my 3rd birthday, my parents got me the first gift I ever got in my life. It was The Lion King by Disney VHS tape.

I remember my young self thrilled, inserting the tape to the VHS device and then it came. A scene of a beautiful African sunrise accompanied with an unfamiliar language: “Nants ingonyama bagithi baba, Sithi uhhmm ingonyama”.

Until this very day, this memory is vivid in a way that this song is making my skin shiver. The Lion King would always be one of my favorites.

Now, that’s a first impression to learn from.

People make fast judgments. It takes only less than 7 seconds to form a first impression about a person, and your company’s products are no different.

It takes less than 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website, app or any other digital product that determines whether they’ll stay or leave.

Invest some extra thinking in the first impression of the product design. A positive reaction from the user within the first seconds will often make or break a new product.


Write Down Your Hero’s Journey

When writing a movie script it is better to plan out the story first. The same goes with UX design.

The user’s emotions are going to be changed by the flow of your product.
Plan ahead and save time by writing down the user’s journey. It’ll make you focus on user needs and not on your own priorities.

Just like in Mulan’s great journey of becoming a Chinese warrior. Your users have their own hero’s journey too.

Writing the journey would lead us to extremely detailed spectrum, from covering check out drop rates through a deep understanding of your product’s conversions. A detailed and organized user’s journey will ease the use of your product to your users.

Put yourself in the shoes of the main character.

Share a high level of empathy with your users.

Identify your users and their wide range of different situations.


Remember Your Audience

This is basic but something we are all tempted to forget.

It can be exciting when you’re designing a new interface and you have the urgency to add another amazing feature.

But wait a minute, this new feature doesn’t necessarily is going to excite your users or make them happy.

Keep your users in focus before you start designing — otherwise, you’ll lose them.

Before you get carried away and get attached to something you’ve invested too much time for, keep your users in high priority.

Don’t forget your users.


ABC (Always Be Cutting)

It could be harsh to design for days or even weeks something that is not working and has to be thrown away.

When writing a movie script, everything has to be clear and intentioned, so does when creating a digital product.

This is the truth: if your design doesn’t have a specific goal it goes to the trash, easy as that.

Just like in Disney movies where everything has a purpose and has to be in place. So does your design.

The sooner you’ll cut the unnecessary part of your UX design, the sooner you’ll get to the product functionality you wish to have.

It is important to scan your design once in a while and check that each feature has a specific intention.


Simplify It

The best writing tip I have ever got is to write as if I am writing to the smartest 9 years old I know.

When we write a story or build a digital product We tend to complicate things up with soo many details so that people would know how hard we worked on it.

There is that scene when Tarzan meet Jane. If The animation is simple and the dialogue is shallow how come it is such a unique scene?

That’s the beauty of simplicity. When used well it could be a powerful tool the delivers a great message with it.

Let’s get back to product design for a moment. When we simplify it, it’s much easier for your users to get the hang of it intuitively.

You might feel like your product is losing value, but sticking to the essence of your product gives users something concrete to grab onto.



Look For Inspiration

As a movie writer, product experience designer or artist in general, we have to explore through creations that influence us.

You can easily see how did Gospel music influence the creators of Disney’s Hercules in one of the best Disney’s intros.

Open your favorite app and ask yourself: “What makes me like it so much?”.

See what kind of designs make your heart beat faster. Find more experiences that inspire you and drive you to create.

Create an inspiration library that would inspire you and open it when creating a new project.


It’s never going to be perfect

Self-doubt is the worst.
Personally, I often encounter with my own imposter syndrome.

“Am I a good designer or just a rip off?”

Don’t be too harsh with yourself.

Just like when writing a script, there isn’t a perfect state of creation.

It might work, it might not work – but remember it is never going to be perfect.

Instead of being paralyzed by the thought of not being good enough, breath and try to invent the best version of yourself with each design that you’re crafting.

This is a way to gain experience that brings you closer to your goals. As long as you stay focused it’s going to be okay.

Creating an effective digital product is an iterative process. Once you’ve accomplished your goals, share your solutions with the rest of your team and move forward.


In Conclusion

The reason I love disney movies so much is because it reminded me my happiest memories of my life.

As product people, we have the opportunity to deliver experiences that would be delightful and memorable – just like in Disney movies.

Our goal is to build products that users love, by delivering the best experiences they could possibly get.

Every product has a story to be told.

Your users will love you more when you’ll share it with them.

Build a product that connects with the deeper needs of your users, know what they want, but most importantly, give them something to remember.

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  • Paulette says:

    Everyone loves it when folks come together and share
    views. Great blog, continue the good work!

  • Great post ????
    As UX designers, we tend to forget that ‘with great power comes bigger responsibility’ (as Spider-Man, another Disney/Marvel character, once said), and with every feature we design, we impact the life of every user.
    E.g. Unlike that common ‘Lean startup’ method that has caught in the past decade, I believe craftsmanship matters:
    If we make something cumbersome (and release it as is), so our user needs to spend another minute to figure out what’s needed from him/her, think it through!
    Please multiply it by your user base, and think about the work hours or years (depending on your product’s user base size). Re think about it again: is it worth working it again and simplifying it?
    The responsibility that lays on the creators is bigger than that – think about the message you convey to your users in your story. E.g. In Lion king, only a lion could be the king and he is entitled to it. Is it the right message we want to convey to our kids? Of classes and entitlement (like in India)? Or if you set your heart to it, you could be anything you’ll want. Narratives are important and even pros like Disney could slip up in choosing the right ones…

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