User experience design (UX) is a field which has evolved, expanded and changed shape since its inception. The basic principles of UX come from ‘human-centred design’, but put simply, it is the process of using research, analysis and testing to create evidence that informs design decisions to meet the needs of the end users. As the field has gained traction, there have been a variety of UX myths develop around what it is, what it isn’t and how it’s done. Let’s highlight a few and provide some truths.
#1 Testing with users is too expensive and takes too long
Testing with users is often delayed or even overlooked in a project due to the common misconception that the only approach is formal, time-consuming usability testing. As UX designers, we have a whole range of methods that can be called upon to suit a particular project, budget and timeline. Of course, conducting one to one usability testing is incredibly valuable, but it’s not the only way to gain valuable insights into your users or feedback on your prototype.
A variety of online and offline methods, such as click tests or guerrilla testing, can be used to gather key insights and can be especially useful for highlighting the things “you didn’t know you don’t know”. Utilising various methods at different stages of a project can ensure that the team feel confident about their product throughout the design and delivery, and reduces the risk of re-work further down the line.
“Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous.”
#2 Users should be able to achieve a task in less than 3 clicks
Don’t Make Me Think is a well-known book written by Steve Krug in 2000. The premise of the book is that good software and websites should allow users to complete tasks easily and directly. For many instances, I would agree with this concept; we should be designing for efficiency. However, there are situations where making a task too quick or simple for a user can remove an element of importance or severity.
For example, consider a student signing up for a 4-year student loan online. This is a real-world example of a scenario where actually slowing the user down, and asking them to fully acknowledge the action they are about to complete, can only be considered as a responsible and ethical design decision.
The point is there are a lot of principles and guidelines that surround UX, but they are just that; guidelines. There is always an exception to the rule, and considering the wider impact of a user’s decision will help identify the most appropriate approach for any specific task.
#3 If your website has a good search function, you don’t need to worry about information architecture
(And vice versa)
User’s mental models, experiences and level of digital skills often determine how they prefer to find information. When observing users interacting with a product, it’s typically very clear that each person arrives at the desired destination in a different way. One of the key ways of measuring the success of a digital product is the findability of information. Some users arrive on a website with a very clear task, and will automatically navigate to the search function to find what they need. However, other users with the same goal will use the navigation to find the same information.
There is no reason to focus on only one of these areas when designing a website. Designing and implementing effective solutions for both will eliminate the risk of some users not being able to find what they need.
#4 UX is the same as UI
This one is probably one of the most common UX myths in the industry. By definition, UX design is the strategic process of creating a service or product that meets the needs of the people using it. By going through that process, we can create an informed and useful user interface (UI). The UI is the end result, or destination, which can only be created well when we fully research and understand the user journey and motivation.
This misconception is probably fuelled by the blurring of lines between the disciplines of research and design, which is understandable. At Storm, our creative team is made up of UX designers, digital designers and front-end developers. We work in collaborative teams to ensure that the findings and insights from user research inform initial prototypes, and ultimately the final design of a product.
#5 UX design is about digital products
A lot of what we do at Storm is about designing the digital destination that a user gets to in order to complete a certain task. But, in order to provide the information they need at the right time, there are a huge number of ‘offline’ things to consider.
In order to create a great user experience, we have to consider the entire journey. We have to understand our target audience and their motivations, skills, fears and needs. Understanding the way our users think allows us to design solutions which make sense to them. This is much more than just creating a digital product, but creating useful experiences that empower people to achieve goals.
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”
Our UX team can help you bust any myths you’re unsure of and design your digital services around the people that actually use them. Get in touch today to put UX design at the heart of what you do.