Humanising Technology

Humanising Technology (HT) is the concept behind Nomensa.  It is our design philosophy.

Defining Humanising Technology

If humanisation can be defined as ‘the act of making more human’ then humanising technology is ‘the act of making technology more human’. For those that know me HT is simply the inspiration behind everything that I do in my professional life.  More importantly it defines my whole approach to the web: it is my modus operandi.

The wonderful web

The web is a wonderful place full of knowledge and people.  However, the web is not as humanised as it needs to be.  The vast majority of sites are still confusing, over designed, put style before substance or suffer digital-schizophrenia. When a government client asks for an MTV style ‘look and feel’ website you can predict the outcome.  Whoever they select and whatever is designed, it’s flawed before they sign off the proposal.  The web is still a ‘Wild West’ and the rules of the game are only now starting to emerge.  You have to know the rules to play the game well.  This is what makes the web so exciting! When I was introduced to the web back in 1993 it was a very different experience to that of today.  I can remember Netscape 1.1 allowing you to display two backgrounds which was something only achieved recently with advanced CSS programming! As a student I loved the library and the web was a revelation because it made the library look instantly antiquated and brought the biggest (growing) collection of information and resources to my finger tips.  It is fair to say I instantly fell in love with this new technology. However, I quickly realised that it wasn’t all mother earth and apple pie.  It started to become more obvious that designers were trying to program and programmers were trying to design.   The web has simplified the rules of engagement for designers and developers.  In principal this is fantastic but it has also created many problems.  Who was looking out for Joe and Jane public, the people consuming information?  What about their experience?  Very few people were looking out for Joe and Jane public – there was little consideration for the human factor!

Eureka!

I could use my passion for human behaviour, psychology and cognitive science to design better websites.  That is when I realised I could sit between the designer and the developer and help them to blend and deliver a better user experience. HT means ensuring that every website or web application is designed to allow any person that wants to use it to be able to use it.  No person should be restricted from using a website if they want to use it, especially in the new millennium: that simply is nonsense, completely discriminatory and totally uncommercial. The web has the potential to bring people together and allow them to share in unique and different experiences.  Therefore, as my thinking began to crystallize I realised that I would make it my mission to humanise the web.

So why should we humanise technology?

Because people are people:  It is in our essence to consider; to share; to understand and to learn.  This is what inspires me about people.  Every one of us has a story that in some way is amazing and for a small few, truly extraordinary: people are amazing! For me the web allows everyone to tell their story.  It’s unequivocally the greatest gadget in the world and we can carry it our pockets – incredible! Websites that divide us, stop us, confuse us and ultimately annoy us are plain wrong. Join us in the quest to design a better and more humanised web! I will have more to say about HT and it is a theme you will see reoccurring in everything I share. Mr. Nomensa 03/02/10