User Experience MythsUser Experience | 27 July 2015
Much like urban myths, user experience myths tend to pop up here and there and pass as truths, until someone comes along to expose them for what they actually are: misconceptions. One of our fields of work at Hi INTERACTIVE is UX and, as part of our business, we come face to face with these misconceptions on a daily basis. We thought we should get some inspiration on a very interesting article by Zoltán Gócza and Zoltán Kollin and clarify some of the most pervading user experience myths.
User Experience myths: on people
MYTH NO. 1 - PEOPLE READ ON THE WEB
People will read your content, provided they don’t feel it’s a waste of time. More than read, people’s natural tendency online is to skim through text, looking for highlighted keywords, checking out headings and favoring short paragraphs. Don’t set the bar too high, expecting people to decipher long text blocks, needless instructions, promotional materials and blatant advertising.
MYTH NO. 2 - PEOPLE DON’T SCROLL
Perhaps this was true back in the 1990s, but the rules of the game have changed in the meantime. If you’re dealing with lengthy content, scrolling might actually improve your usability. It is still true that all content above the fold will get more attention and will be scrutinized by users when deciding whether your page is worth the effort or not. However, it doesn’t follow that you should squeeze all your content above the fold.
MYTH NO. 3 - PEOPLE CAN TELL YOU WHAT THEY WANT
By all means, ask people what they want. But please: be absolutely sure that you know how to ask the right questions and know how you can interpret the answers you get. Also, consider the answers with a pinch of salt: it is all too easy for people to make false prediction about future behavior and there is always a huge difference between actual UX and extrapolated UX.
MYTH NO. 4 - PEOPLE ALWAYS USE YOUR PRODUCT THE WAY YOU IMAGINED THEY WOULD
Your intentions may even be the best, but there is no way around it: people will take your design and use in ways unsuspected to the designer. It is not necessarily tragic: people will go down avenues you might not even have considered and, most importantly, they will make it their own. There is, therefore, no need to take it personally.
MYTH NO. 5 - PEOPLE ARE RATIONAL
Here is the bad news: despite what the theory of classical economics would have us think, people’s behavior is not preceded by any deep analysis of cost or utility. According to research, emotions, more than rational thinking, are behind our decisions. If designers take the time to learn about the human decision-making process, they may even go beyond usability and may manage to create products that can effectively influence users’ behavior.
User Experience myths: on design
MYTH NO. 6 - DESIGN IS ABOUT MAKING A WEBSITE LOOK GOOD
This particular myth most probably arose from the misconception that web design is akin to digital window dressing and has very little to do with usability. However, design combines both form and function and has to provide usability aside from being emotionally and visually pleasant. Ultimately, the goal of design is solving problems.
MYTH NO. 7 - DESIGN HAS TO BE ORIGINAL
Culture conditioning has been, for the past two centuries, trying to convince us that anything original will be automatically superior to something reinvented. Nevertheless, there is a strong case to be made in favor of adapting conventional user interface design patterns. Test and tried design patterns have managed to pass the usability test. Any solution that proposes something 100% new should be carefully weighted.
User Experience myths: on UX design
MYTH NO. 8 - UX DESIGN IS ABOUT USABILITY
Usability is all about allowing people to attain their goals, but even though usability is an important component of UX design, the two concepts are not synonymous. UX design is about giving people an amazing experience. An iconic example would be the iPhone, that makes even failures ‘more enjoyable than succeeding on a Blackberry’.
MYTH NO. 9 - UX DESIGN IS A STEP IN A PROJECT
Our final myth about UX design is that it is simply another phase in the whole business project. Nothing could be further from the truth: UX design is the baseline itself of a project or a business. UX design starts with research about a business model, moves on to understanding how a service can find a place in its users’ lives and is always subject to further improvements.
Don’t get stuck on user experience myths: let’s meet and we’ll tell you all about the real UX.