2 History of UX: Walt Disney

For the overview of the history of UX, see this article on Career Foundry.


Walt Disney

What the heck?

Disney World with the statue of Walt Disney holding hands with Mickey Mouse on the picture that illustrates a history of UX??

Yes! Walt Disney was one of the first UX designers! Boom!

There is a brilliant and well-researched article written by Joseph Dickerson in UX Magazine on this topic and it is definitely worth reading. I have done my job and here are some of my favourite highlights.


In 1966 Walt Disney described Florida project (future Walt Disney World) as: “an experimental prototype that is always in the state of becoming, a place where the latest technology can be used to improve the lives of people.”

Disney called his design team ‘imagineers’ and with his imagineers, he designed the unique special moments and experiences in his theme parks. Ultimately, he wanted people to immerse themselves completely in the park experience, and so he crafted the smallest details for them.

Disney and his team were always ‘plussing’, meaning adding, pushing, improving for better experience.

People are different and they need different options like Adventureland, Tomorrowland, etc. People either stayed in one land for the whole day or they could use the ‘Hub’ to quickly get to a different land.

Disney surrounded himself with incredibly talented people and let them do their thing! How good is that?

Disney always innovated, invested in technology and risked, almost lost it all but at the end ultimately benefited from it.

He always used data. If the ice cream ran out, he doubled the stalls, if the queue was too long, he redesign it and made sure people had shade and fans.

Disney often tested and based on feedback redesigned, he would put his family on the Jungle Cruise or through a different experience to get feedback and improve it.


This is it. If that is not convincing enough, the author of the article also cited 10 Mickey’s commandment, the directions and advice that Walt Disney gradually came up with, they were formerly documented by the Imagineering President Marty Sklar. I will re-post them here in an abbreviated form.

Mickey Mouse

10 Mickey’s Commandments

1. Know your audience: “Don’t bore people, talk down to them, or lose them by assuming that they know what you know.”

2. Wear your guest’s shoes: “Insist that designers, staff, and your board members experience your facility as visitors as often as possible.”

3. Organize the flow of people and ideas: “Use good storytelling techniques; tell good stories not lectures; lay out your exhibit with a clear logic.”

4. Create a weenie: “Lead visitors from one area to another by creating visual magnets and giving visitors rewards for making the journey.”

5. Communicate with visual literacy: “Make good use of all the non-verbal ways of communication—color, shape, form, texture.”

6. Avoid overload: “Resist the temptation to tell too much, to have too many objects; don’t force people to swallow more than they can digest, try to stimulate and provide guidance to those who want more.”

7. Tell one story at a time: “If you have a lot of information, divide it into distinct, logical, organized stories; people can absorb and retain information more clearly if the path to the next concept is clear and logical.”

8. Avoid contradiction: “Clear institutional identity helps give you the competitive edge. [The] public needs to know who you are and what differentiates you from other institutions they may have seen.”

9. For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of fun: “How do you woo people from all other temptations? Give people plenty of opportunity to enjoy themselves by emphasizing ways that let people participate in the experience and by making your environment rich and appealing to all senses.”

10. Keep it up: “Never underestimate the importance of cleanliness and routine maintenance, people expect to get a good show every time, people will comment more on broken and dirty stuff.”

Source: http://uxmag.com/articles/walt-disney-the-worlds-first-ux-designer

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