Although the concept of User Experience is already well-known and respected, some still fail to understand what the UX Design even means. Because, let’s be honest – that doesn’t sound very logical that you can design someone else’s experience. UX may be a factor that influences the overall rating of the product, but you cannot predict things like that… or can you?
What even is a User Experience?
Looking for an accurate definition that comes from actual practice and wasn’t just made to sound pretty, I found out that you can’t simply talk about UX as about one single action you’ve done and can forget about. It’s more like a process of trying to balance needs.
There are three subjects you want to please. Firstly – your pocket, and as harsh as it may sound, you always have to remember that business is, well, business. Secondly – your users, that should be able to find your product useful. Lastly – technology reality, which is crucial, because it’s technology that allows the product to exist.
If you won’t think about business requirements and purposes, the outcome may be great but unprofitable, so forget about its maintenance. If you ignore users’ needs, well, your product will be simply unwanted, unappealing and practically pointless. Lastly, if you don’t care about technical intricacies, the application won’t even come to life at all.
Now we have some basis to begin with. UX is the subjective feeling that the customer has while using the product. And UX Design is the perfect balance between what the users want and need, what the agency is able to deliver and what the owner is able to afford.
What User Experience most definitely isn’t?
UX Design isn’t just a step in the overall development. Repeat after me. You cannot assume that something will work just because you said so. Actually, it’s more like a whole process, when you begin with the idea, then you do a lot of research, as a result you create concepts, you test them, analyze the outcome, and then you do it all again. Remember about the concept of a compromise – at every stage you have to take into consideration if you can do it (technical aspect), if you can afford it (economical aspect) and if people want you to do it (people aspect).
As you have probably already noticed, that’s a lot of work to do. UX Design is a highly interdisciplinary field, as it requires not only the designing skills, but also ability to analyze and examine, as well as the knowledge of human mentality and psychological processes. That’s a lot. Most UX Design specialists agree that you shouldn’t expect one person to take care of all of these. If UX Design is a collaboration of multiple values, in order to achieve it you have to involve multiple specialists. Moreover, it’s best to think about it as a teamwork of all of the people involved – so UX Designers (with emphasis on the plural form), product owners and users.
There are many myths that may hold you back from making great UX design. Some of them exist because of stereotypical ways of thinking, others used to be marked as valid but are no longer relevant. Let’s talk about what many people consider to be common knowledge, but actually may be very destructive towards your products’ UX.
Your experience is enough
You made so many great products that succeeded, why waste time and money on doing research and analysis once again? You already know the answers and can predict users’ reactions. You know what they want and how to do it. Am I right?
No, absolutely not. Actually it’s quite the opposite – people are completely unpredictable. Some solutions that may work for one product may be completely irrelevant with the other. There are so many factors that may influence audience behavior that you are obliged to test and try every time. Keep your eyes open even if you are a specialist.
Aesthetic doesn’t matter
There is that trend of creating things that aren’t pleasant to look at but their usability is top shelf. You can find products that look bad yet perform greatly, and they are loved and respected. However, it works only for two types of products: those existing since forever, where outdated design increases users’ nostalgia, and for those who want to be different and shocking, hiding behind the idea of focusing on functionality.
Nevertheless, beautiful things make us feel better, that’s a fact. They are not only attractive but also hold user’s attention. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to be generic with your design – just find your characteristic aesthetic and stick to it. Remember, beauty can also be considered as functionality.
Your way of thinking is the same as your users
Oh boy, if you believe it, you’re going to have a bad time. As I mentioned before, people aren’t predictable, as well as they aren’t rational and also they may have completely different priorities and motivations.
Remember, your way of thinking is already influenced by your knowledge about design and technology. Also, each person is an individual, and there are many factors that may have affected their way of thinking. Always test your ideas, you may be surprised how much your and your users point of view may differ.
More is more
Lots of people tend to think that if they create an application allowing people to order food from the nearest restaurants, it should also allow them to calculate the calories outcome, send the meal recipe via e-mail and share the information how many proteins and carbohydrates you got via Facebook.
People just want to order something tasty. They don’t need all of that. You will waste your time and resources on something that nobody will ever use. It’s not a contest which application will have the highest number of usabilities. It’s quality, not quantity that matters. Additional features are great, but begin with the core and test every special before you get fully involved.
I will conclude my reasoning with words of Joel Spolsky, famous software engineer and writer. In all of his wisdom and knowledge, Spolsky said:
“Usability is not everything. If usability engineers designed a nightclub, it would be clean, quiet, brightly lit, with lots of places to sit down, plenty of bartenders, menus written in 18-point sans-serif, and easy-to-find bathrooms. But nobody would be there. They would all be down the street at Coyote Ugly pouring beer on each other”
No more explanation needed. Now go and design some experiences!