If you find that conversational organization of your email makes your inbox a little easier to deal with, then you likely switched from your previous email client to something like Gmail. If you find that sitting high above the traffic gives you a sense of security and comfort on the road, then you are likely still driving that SUV, even with gas prices rising.  If your day begins just a bit more pleasant at the local coffee shop than the more convenient one on your morning route, you are probably still walking that extra block to go there before work, even on a busy day.

Simply put, our experiences shape our preferences. We prefer the experiences that result in something delightful, comfortable, or just generally easier, when we have the choice.

As a team of user experience professionals at Blackboard, it is our job to identify what is behind those preferences and how to create experiences you can connect with and make your life easier.

As the user experience team grows, we have had the opportunity to interview a large number of candidates to find the right new additions, and there is one question I almost always ask. “In a vehicle that you drive now or are familiar with, tell me some good design choices and some poor design choices that were made, and why.”

What I’m interested in is how these professionals think about design, think about the human experience and think about the consequences of design decisions. The number one, most frequently mentioned, poor design choice?

Cup holders.

They have an entire vehicle to consider, and they all want to talk about cup holders!

Why? Because the small things matter.

Think about how many times you’ve used the cup holder in your vehicle. For many of us who commute in a vehicle, that’s at least daily (I certainly need my cup of joe on the ride into the city). If my cup holder is not functional or only works sometimes, with only a limited number of cups; if I can’t trust it to hold my cup, if I have to keep eyeing it while I’m on the road – none of these scenarios make my life easier. And I will experience that every day!

Does this mean the design of the cup holder is more important than the design of the engine? That I would be more pleased with a great cup holder than a great engine? Absolutely not. But if my morning coffee spills all over me, I may be just as furious as if my car stalls out on the road. The total experience matters.

And that is why I love my job. At Blackboard, we are designing the engine and the cup holders with you in mind. We work with hundreds of customers every year to identify all of the details that create a delightful, engaging, reliable, simple and useful experience, and we seek out solutions that will give you an experience that meets your expectations.

Interested in helping us learn more about your experiences? Join the Blackboard Idea Exchange. Interested in designing solutions that create positive experiences? Check out our open positions in Learn product development.

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