Exploring UX Misconceptions
This article aims to explore some misconceptions that are commonly encountered in the field of Design and User Experience, as well as philosophies the Brankas team uses to achieve our ultimate north star.
The world of User Experience, or “UX” as most people know it, is a growing field that many are taking more notice of. The deeper you delve into this field, the more you realize that the roles within it are ever-changing and adaptability is truly your best friend. Technology and speed in shipping out products is defining this decade. With the increased need to learn in a shorter amount of time, how do tech teams cope? At Brankas, the UX and Design teams face the same challenge. With everyone jumping online, how do we keep our interfaces clean and catchy? How do we maintain a design that’s relevant while prioritizing our users’ experience?
Misconception # 1: UX and UI are one and the same
We have a tendency to simplify ideas to fit our understanding, like a mental model. A common thing you’ll encounter when talking about design is “UX/UI” which makes it seem like these two terms mean the same and can be interchanged, not the case.
User Experience (UX), as defined by Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen (two of the most prominent figures in the field), is “encompassing all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services and its products”. User Interface (UI) on the other hand, is the means by which the user interacts with a computer system whether it be a software application or a hardware device.
Keeping these two definitions in mind helps us understand that UI is a smaller piece in the ecosystem that contributes to the UX. Design isn’t the only contributor to User Experience - all the other teams within an organization significantly affect how a product or service is experienced. Since UX/UI is commonly tied to the role (UX/UI Designer), here’s our attempt to make a distinction between the two roles:
- UX Designer - maps out and then defines the sum of experiences (whether internal or external) the customer would go through when interacting with your company.
- UI Designer - interprets the customers needs and creates the interface that the customers will interact with to be able to use the product or service.
Misconception # 2: Give your customers what they want
We often hear this phrase: “the customer is always right”. However, how true this statement is depends on how “always” is interpreted. As designers, there is a fine line between delivering the customers’ requests and actually serving them value.
A popular quote from Henry Ford can better put this into context: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.
A customer’s job is not to design, but to consume the product or service made for them. A customer would only relate it to their own experience and our job is to design that product or service to serve as many people as possible who share the same needs. This is why empathy is important. When we get feedback from a variety of people, it is our job to figure out what are commonly the most important problems to solve.
Misconception # 3: Less clicks is always better
Just like in any field, there are so-called best practices you can follow but shouldn’t do so blindly. A lot of times, it’s better to use them as a loose starting point and consciously make the effort to adjust it to fit how it’s affecting your product.
Having less clicks is not always better by default. There are already multiple studies that debunk the correlation of the number of steps being tied to user satisfaction. What’s significantly more important- 1. having clear steps (what needs to be done), 2. making them understandable (why each step exists) and 3. managing the user’s expectations (how long the process will be).
Misconception # 4: Give your users more options
When you’re in a restaurant and you look at the menu, how long does it take for you to decide what to order? Do you consider factors like budget, diet, or what’s the fresh catch of the day?
This is the same with designing options for users. The more options users have, the more time they spend thinking about which to go with. This is proven by Hick’s Law which describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has: increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time logarithmically. Instead of giving too many options, it is our job as designers to make sure the user gets to their decision faster.
But what if you can’t lessen the number of choices and they are different and all equally important? One solution is to chunk them. As per Miller’s Law, The number of objects an average person can hold in working memory is 7 objects +/- 2. Instead of having a list of 20 items, being able to group them into 4 groups of 5 will make the selection process easier for the user.
Misconception # 5: Being unique is always good
As markets get more saturated with products and services, businesses want to make themselves stand out amongst the competition. There are times as designers when we need to make something new to stand out, but you need to ask yourself: who are you designing for, the business or the user?
One guideline we can refer to is Jakob’s Law, where it mentions how users spend all their time on other sites and how that trains and affects how people use similar products. What they see similar on one site will transfer the same expectations to succeeding sites - familiarity is your friend.
How we can relate this to actual product development, is by prioritizing how much more effective our products are. Its uniqueness can come from being able to provide a solution to problems no one else is solving.
As designers at Brankas, we want to provide the best UX possible for our Open Banking and API-based solutions. Some of these misconceptions were thought to be ways or practices to provide the best UX. But at the end of the day, we always think about whether the process fits our customers, our products, our industry, and our overall goal.