Image by Alicia Zinn

When UX design meets pasta

“Look at usual things with unusual eyes”, says industrial designer — architect Vico Magistretti. It was 5 pm and I was sitting with my usual snack time pasta bowl that interrupted my train of thought. Being a food and design enthusiast, I’m constantly hung up on how could I build a beautiful contrast between the traits of pasta and the basics of UX design. Let’s cook some pasta with UX!

Consistency is the key

As far as UX design is concerned, the users expect products to share some similarities with other products they regularly use. This makes it easy for them to become familiar with the new product without any additional learning costs just like pasta. Pasta is, for all intents and purposes, a comfort food. One of its most comforting qualities is how little it has changed over the centuries. It is still made with the same essential ingredients and preparations that it has been since antiquity. Similarly, it may sound a little counterintuitive, but the more familiar your design is to others, the faster users can learn to use it, which enhances their experience.

Such consistency also makes the design process easier for the designers, as they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they take on a new project. When we eat pasta, we can be assured of the likelihood that our ancestors, and our ancestor’s ancestors, ate something similar. A case in point is the floating action button that has become common among apps, as seen in the Twitter and Google Docs. And yes, pasta, with its long, multicultural history, is a culinary connection to our past.

Accessible like pasta

An increasingly important rule from among the UX design basics is designing with accessibility in mind. In simple words, a designer’s responsibility is to make sure that his design is usable for as many people as possible. Closely, pasta is not only one of the most consumed foods in the world, but it’s also one of the most accessible. The high-gluten and low-moisture qualities of pasta make it perfect for cutting it into various shapes and serving with a range of sauces, as it can blend with and enhance almost any flavor. Numerous cultures from around the globe have their variations of pasta.

The versatility and simplicity of pasta are the main reasons why the dish is so popular, but even though almost anyone can make it, pasta remains an incredibly popular dish among even the most high-end chefs from around the globe.

Being an all-rounder

It is a requisite now, that people who have a wide range of skills generally do better in this field. One day the designers will be doing user research — interviewing customers, stakeholders, setting up brand voice, analyzing user insights, and the next day they’ll be white-boarding, designing interfaces. As for pasta, serve it as a starter, a side dish, or the main event. How about a pasta salad with mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives?

At some point, the designers will be preparing the A and the B variations to test, busy rethinking how to focus time, and increase productivity without compromising on the output. Likely so, pasta comes in million shapes. OK, not literally a million, but you get the idea: bow ties, shells, ribbons, tubes, bowls, and ravioli that hold fillings from butternut squash to wild boar and more.

The ‘psychological’ take

Emotions shape all our activities in adaptive ways. In the absence of psychological insights, decision making is virtually impossible to design for users. Understanding the importance of psychology in design is highly important. Persuading users through design can improve user experience. Understanding psychological triggers, the behavior of users is crucial to better engage them.

From an early age, we as infants learn to associate feeding with being soothed and social interaction. In everyday life, food is often used to enhance mood or “treat” ourselves. Eating tasty food for this instance; pasta releases dopamine in our brains, which is strongly associated with desire and wanting for food. By providing and sharing food with other people, cooking may strengthen social relationships and make us feel closer to our loved ones, in these trying times.

I hope this must have surely got you thinking about how relatable the simplest of things like the pasta could enlighten you with some of the many basics of UX design. And after all of this, I need my bowl of pasta!