User Experience Design Misconceptions - SELISE

User Experience Design Misconceptions

November 27, 2012

This blog post is derived from our weekly seminar held by Rajiv Hassan, UXD Team Leader of SELISE. The topic was inspired by the book “The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web”  written by Jesse James Garrett.

Web application or software, in modern contexts, is gradually becoming more complicated as our technologies are becoming more and more advanced. So, it has turned out to be very important to make those things user-friendly enough so that the person, who will interface with a system, will have a pleasant and satisfactory experience. And this is what’s done through User Experience Designs (UXD). But, still now, UXD is considered just as an accessory thing to some people. There are many misconceptions regarding UXD. Thus, let’s have a short trip into these misconceptions today.

  • It is NOT of course, Interface design

One misconception is that UXD is just used to design a web site or application interface to make it visually appealing. But,  User Experience Design is not a layer or component of a product. Rather, it is related to the overall experience of the whole system. It is the design of the whole system and the connections among them. Considering this, in every layers of a system, a UX designer must be engaged. If the UX designer is involved from the very beginning and if they are clearly communicated about the client’s need and the goal of the project, then the task can be completed perfectly. And it will also reduce the risk of extra hazard at the end.

Figure 1: Different Layer of User Experience Design

(Source: http://interactiondesign.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/the-elements-of-user-experience/)

  • It is NOT a step in the process

It’s NOT a step in any process. It’s not like a checkbox that you do once and just move on. It is a continuing process for an application. We have to continuously know the product user’s need and according to those, evolve the application. Like in the below picture, this process must be conducted again and again from start to end if it is needed.

Figure 2: Elements of User Experience
Figure 2: Elements of User Experience

(Source :http://www.sccc.premiumdw.com/web202/the-user-experience/)

  • It is NOT only usability

“Making things usable” is the main goal of UX designing but it is not all about usability. As professor David Malouf of Savannah College of Art & Design explains, “While usability is important, its focus on efficiency and effectiveness seems to blur the other important factors in UX, which include learn ability and visceral and behavioral emotional responses to the products and services we use.” You must think first in UX designing – is this usable? Then gradually asking about the usability, desirability, sustainability and social aspect of the product and thus, making the product fit to these fields.

Figure 2: Building blocks of a successful digital experience

(Source : http://experiencematters.criticalmass.com/2007/09/14/building-blocks-of-a-successful-digital-experience-part-one/)

  •   It is NOT just about User

Though the title says user experience design, we can’t always think about the users. There are certain businesses objectives that designers need to meet and they design according to that. User needs are the business requirement or you can say- business goal. But, user experience designers have to find the sweet spot between the user’s needs and the company’s capability, and furthermore ensure that the design is on brand. Flexibility is needed everywhere. But, too much flexibility will cause unnecessary complexity. So, this flexibility should be stopped at a moment. It is not always possible to serve every kind of purpose. It will only make things more complicated and confusing. User experience design involves balancing all aspects required to provide a quality learning experience.

Figure 3: Strategic Sweet Spot
Figure 3: Strategic Sweet Spot

(Source: http://www.idea-sandbox.com/blog/2008/06/strategic-sweet-spot/)

  • Does look expensive but it’s NOT

Though the process might feel slow and expensive at the beginning but if you skip it now, in the long run it may come and cause you more trouble. User experience designs aren’t expensive to develop, what they require is careful attention to design, choice of media and delivery technology. If you maintain all this from the very first time, at the end, you will find thing well synchronized and more flexible in less cost within your capabilities.

  • It’s NOT easy

One could go so far as to say nothing is easy. That doesn’t imply that we stop ‘designing experiences’ because of the difficulty and challenges involved. Creating effective learning experiences demands that we consider the requirements to do so before embarking on the development process. If any designers enter into the whole process at the mid time, it will be very difficult to cope up with the whole process for the specific one. So, it should encourage to the designer to be involved from the very beginning. Ant list they should have a hint.

  • NOT a role of one person or one department

User experience design is not the role of one person or department. Responsibility for the total user experience belongs to everyone. User experience designers are the liaisons not magicians. There are no set of best practices that can be implemented, nor do we have all of the answers. The truth is that User Experience Design is still a very new process. It’s a common awareness, a thread that ties together people from different disciplines who care about good design and who realize today’s increasingly complex design challenges. Our greatest skill is that we know how to listen. While we can implement most effective process within the organization, its ultimately up to all members of the business to work with us and make it a success.

For those of you who think you don’t really need a user experience designer, may keep this in mind: “Nobody wants to believe that what they are offering is of poor-quality or deficient, because nobody sets out to achieve a bad design as a goal. It’s always a risk. Bad designs and bad experiences happen”. – Kaleem Khan, UX consultant.