Designing Good UX Is An Ungrateful Job

Designing Good UX Is An Ungrateful Job

Recently somebody remarked that he didn’t understand what all the fuss around UX was all about. Surely this was not a professional discipline but you simply use your ‘common sense’ when designing. When asked why there is so much bad UX around, the answer was that this was designed by people who are simply not good enough. The person who said this and those that agree are forgiven for thinking this. As users, what they experience as good UX are things that just work as expected. It just makes sense because the implementation matches their mental model of what is ‘common sense’. Good UX invokes the ‘Yes of course it is like it is. How else could it work?’ feeling which unfortunately also leads to the conclusion that because it is so logical it also must have been this easy and quick to design. It is trivial right?

Nothing is further from the truth. What sense is common to a user (and thus viewed as trivial) is more often than not, not common to the designer at all. Finding out what your users have in common is truly hard work which can only be done through proper research. Unfortunately the better you are at researching what your users have in common the less credit you will get for your solution because it is perceived as trivial by your users (which is what you aimed for in the first place). This makes good UX design an ungrateful job.

Fortunately good UX that ‘just works’ is everywhere. It does not receive praise nor recognition even if your name is Apple. Take the Apple watch. I have yet to find a person that raves about it. Most people seem rather disappointed by the lack of functionality and having used one myself for a week, I agree. But it just works, in small bits with little gems that just make sense. For example, when you use your iphone, the watch will not display notifications that are shown on the phone​. Big Deal? Certainly the watch is all about notifications but most users will not even be aware that this is happening. Try using a Pebble on the other hand and you’ll notice how annoying it is not to have this tiny feature over and over again. Somebody at Apple did their research. And that is what good UX design is all about, Do you research, design for validated needs, create something that is ‘just common sense’ to your users and do not expect credit for all the hard work. Makes sense?

Dr. Leo Poll is President of Akendi UK.  A firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design, to learn more about Akendi or user experience design, visit www.akendi.co.uk

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