Myth #9: Design has to be original
Many designers would rather attempt reinventing the wheel than to adapt conventional user interface design patterns. It should be considered, however, that such design conventions are well-working because they’ve already been introduced and tested for usability. Since the users know them well, you don’t need any explanation or instruction manual. As users appreciate usability over novelties, standard patterns will eventually benefit your audience.
It might occur that a new approach is needed, but you must be 100% positive that your solution is better than the existing pattern.
On the importance of web conventions:
Further reading on the concept of originality:
Myth #27: UX design is about usability
Designing for the user experience has a lot more to it than making a product usable. Usability allows people to easily accomplish their goals. UX design covers more than that, it’s about giving people a delightful and meaningful experience.
A good design is pleasurable, thoughtfully crafted, makes you happy, and gets you immersed. Think of games, they usually have these characteristics. Or think of the iPhone that makes even failures “more enjoyable than succeeding on a Blackberry”.
Good design is pleasurable and seductive:
- “At this point in experience design’s evolution, satisfaction ought to be the norm, and delight ought to be the goal” – says Stephen Anderson. See his brilliant presentations: Seductive Interactions and Creating Pleasurable Interfaces
- “User-experience is not like usability – it is about feelings. The aim here is to create happiness. You want people to feel happy before, during and after they have used your product. […] Focus on making it easy to be happy, and usability, user-experience and greatness will come all by itself.” – The Battle Between Usability and User-Experience
- “Showing personality in your app, website, or brand can be a very powerful way for your audience to identify and empathize with you. People want to connect with real people and too often we forget that businesses are just collections of people.” – Emotional Interface Design: The Gateway to Passionate Users
- Andy Budd shows many examples on how to seduce users on the web (i.e. showing testimonials and your popularity, being funny, mysterious, etc.) – Seductive Design presentation slides or video or the takeaways for the hurried
- Though it became popular only recently, the term “seductive interface” was first coined in 1994 by Microsoft and even discussed by usability guru Jakob Nielsen in 1996 – Seductive User Interfaces
Good design is playful:
- Good experiences are engaging. Sometimes it means making things hard and sacrifying ease of use. “We all talk about user-friendliness and usability, but is it possible to go too far? The answer really depends on the context, but yes, it is possible to make something so easy that it loses value.” – Can you have too much ease-of-use?
- “Brains love play. Find a way to bring more play (or at least a sense of playfulness) into someone’s life, and you might just end up with a fan.” – Creating playful users…
Good design gets you in the flow:
- In the flow state “people often experience intense concentration and feelings of enjoyment, coupled with peak performance. Hours pass by in what seems like minutes.” Trevor van Gorp discusses how to design for the flow. – Design for Emotion and Flow, see also his presentation
- Usability expert Dana Chisnell says that good design isn’t just eliminating frustration, products must evoke positive emotions, be thoughtful, and get users absorbed in the experience (like on Netflix or TripIt.com). – Beyond Frustration: Three levels of happy design
A well designed product has a meaning to the user:
- Meaningful products have personal significance and resonates with people’s needs, match their values. Few companies are able to reach this level, “products can be beautiful & usable but still lacking in meaning” – Stephen P. Anderson
- “Meaning is the deepest connection that you can make with your audience/user/customer. Meaning is established between people, between people and objects, people and places, etc., and it is the deepest part of those invisible connections.” – Designing for Meaningful Experience – Nathan Shedroff
- What types of meaningful experiences do people value? Accomplishment, community, creation, enlightenment, freedom, etc. – See the 15 most frequent meanings collected by the author of the book Making Meaning based on thousands of interviews.
… the difference between UX and usability is illustrated in:
Myth #22: Usability testing is expensive
Many organizations still believe usability testing is a luxury that requires an expensively equipped lab and takes weeks to conduct.
In fact, usability tests can be both fast and relatively cheap. You don’t need expensive prototypes; low-tech paper prototype tests can also bring valuable results. You don’t need a lot of participants either, even 5 users can be enough to test for specific tasks, and the recruiting can also be done guerilla-style. For many projects, you can even use remote and unmoderated tests.
How can you fit usability testing into a low budget?
- Dana Chisnell, author of The Handbook of Usability Testing, recommends cheap and lab-less testing for quick insights. – Quick and Dirty Usability Testing: Step Away from the Book
- Jared Spool argues that there’s no need for usability labs most of the times. Moreover, labs can even distract participants. – Streamlining Usability Testing by Avoiding the Lab
- Jakob Nielsen discusses how usability projects can be inexpensive and fast saying that “The methods are incredibly flexible and scale up or down according to circumstance.” – Misconceptions About Usability and How Many Test Users in a Usability Study?
- In Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users, Jakob Nielsen says that it’s normally enough to test a design with 5 users. He argues that by adding “more and more users, you learn less and less”. Keep in mind though that a more thorough test of a complete website will still require larger numbers.
- In his book Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug also states that 3-4 participants are usually sufficient for finding the biggest usability issues.
- In Usability Testing on a Budget, several UX experts tell their experiences on fitting usability testing into a low budget – skipping the extras and the lab, going informal, etc.
- Chris Fahey argues that designers should do user research themselves instead of contracting a third party research company. As he puts it bluntly, it “sucks when the creator of the research artifacts is not also the designer of the product.” – Research + Interpret + Produce = Design
- UXmatters discusses the pros and cons of unmoderated usability testing, stating that unmoderated testing “is most effective when you have very specific questions about how people use an interface for relatively simple and straightforward tasks.” – Unmoderated, Remote Usability Testing: Good or Evil?
- It must be noted though that remote tests are not always more economic, another article on UXmatters states that, in the authors’ experience, face-to-face usability testing is more economical.
- Nate Bolt collected many quick-and-dirty remote usability testing methods and web applications. –Quick and Dirty Remote User Testing
- … for more remote usability tools, see you can find here an extensive list.
How to get stakeholder buy-in for testing?
- Proven techniques from Christine Perfetti to convince clients: Five Techniques for Getting Buy-In for Usability Testing
- In an interview, Dana Chisnell advises to pitch usability testing in a company by examining what the company bases its design decisions on: “Look hard at how you’re making design decisions. Without doing some kind of user research or usability testing, how do you know you’re basing your design decisions on good information?”
- Arguments to combat usability testing avoidance like “Our product is already perfect” or “It’ll slow us down.” – 4 ways to combat usability testing avoidance
This is a advice to designers and marketers of most of e-commerce sites here in Brazil.
Myth #20: If it works for Amazon, it will work for you
Although Amazon has features that are both excellent and well-proven, they won’t necessarily work on any e-commerce website. Let’s take their customer reviews for example. Target.com bought Amazon’s customer review software. Jared Spool demonstrates that, despite using the same exact software and interface, Target.com doesn’t receive any reviews at all: in the first month after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, Amazon got 1 805 reviews, whereas Target received only 3 (both retailers sold about 2 million copies).
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t copy the design of others – by all means do. But make sure you also understand why it worked for them and how it will work for your company and your users.
Why copying Amazon can be dangerous?
- Jared Spool discusses the aforementioned Target customer review fiasco in his presentation Revealing Design Treasures from the Amazon (the Target example starts on slide 26).
- Christian Holst summarizes the different reasons why copying Amazon might be harmful – The “Just Copy Amazon” Fallacy
- Jakob Nielsen writes that “copying successful designs is not a foolproof way to improve your own site’s business value […] and has many pitfalls” in Should You Copy a Famous Site’s Design?
In another article, he shows the weak points of Amazon’s design and why most sites shouldn’t copy it. – Amazon: No Longer the Role Model for E-Commerce Design
- Linda Bustos explains the top reasons why your website cannot compare to Amazon: Amazon is one of the biggest websites in terms of traffic and user base. It can afford to sell some items below cost and even allows third-party ads and items on its product pages (cannibalizing its own sales). It also has enough users for features like reviews or Listmania. – 10 Reasons Not to Copy Amazon, a brilliant read.
- A study found that Amazon.com “was perceived in the usability testing to have the slowest home page loading speeds of the 20 websites studied, and to have one of the most confusing home pages. But users said before and after the website testing that they were likely to use and/or recommend Amazon to a friend.
‘Amazon had already been visited by 71% of the usability testers,’ notes Ms. Frank, ‘so the familiarity with the site and the strong brand recognition were able to overcome flaws that would have been the kiss of death to lesser known websites.’”
- Joshua Porter argues that mindlessly copying a design — that of Amazon or Facebook for example — is a horrible idea. When you copy, you don’t know the reasons behind a design, you’re not responding directly to your customer needs, you’re devaluing your own data. – Copycat Design
- All that said, copying or stealing a design cleverly is what designers should do. As Pablo Picasso put it: “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” – Don’t Copy a Design — Steal It, also quoted in Great designers steal by Jeff Veen.
Myth #1: People read on the web
People only read word-by-word on the web when they are really interested in the content. They usually skim the pages looking for highlighted keywords, meaningful headings, short paragraphs and scannable list. Since they’re in a hurry to find the very piece of information they’re looking for, they’ll skip what’s irrelevant for them.
So don’t expect people to read content that seems neither easily scannable nor relevant for them, therefore long text blocks, unnecessary instructions, promotional writing and “smalltalk” should be avoided on the web.
How little do users read?
When people read word-by-word:
- If people find the very piece of information they are interested in, they are likely to read the related content word-by-word.
- Research shows that if people read a piece of content for pleasure, they read more thoroughly and find reading effortless even on a computer screen.
- Studies show that there are methodical web readers who usually don’t scan but read from top to bottom.
- Well structured pages that are designed for cursory reading are more likely to be read.
On my experience in usability tests, i can say this: users don’t read alert messages, error messages etc.
Here in Brazil, the electro-electronics are not, mostly, bivolt. This created a problem for users who buying the wrong product, for not read the instructions on the screen. We had to leave these products without any SKU selected for the user to select what he wants, before clicking ‘Buy’. Do not know if it’s the best idea, but it works and the problems stopped.
Searching for articles about this, I found a UX site with some myths in design, usability and mostly UX.
I’ll put here some of them, mostly articles about problems here in Brazil.
This video takes a fun and quirky approach to explaining who UX Designers are and what they do. Like the designers of this video, the UX Designer is committed to bringing together technology and experience to deliver an innovative product. UX Designers put their emphasis on new ideas and delivering the best experience to the user.