Monthly Archives: August 2018

UX Roadtrip!

A mistake commonly made by website designers is to consider browsing to be merely a form of transportation; simply taking users from one location to another. As a result, a user’s commute between webpages has often only been assigned an instrumental value. That is to say, it is not seen as having value in itself. Instead, it is only considered valuable because it assists in achieving something valuable; getting users to where they wanted to go. A user’s browsing then has traditionally been seen as a journey akin to a commute, a type of activity which reduces the amount of time users are able to spend at their desired destination.

The aim of UX-focused design is to create websites which transform these commutes to into pleasurable experiences. In other words, UX aims to transform the humdrum commute to work into a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive.

To do this, good UX designs the architecture of websites and the layout of pages to suit not only the needs of its users but also their understanding of how pieces of content organically fit together in the minds of users. The often rigid divisions between one web page and another or one piece of content from the other is dissolved in good UX design. Content and the pages in which that content is hosted becomes seamless. There are no boundaries, everything is integrated.

Good UX design is not a matter of opposing traditional website design. It should not ignore the learned habits and behaviours they have developed in users. However, it should not be beholden to what has gone before. Good UX design should constantly look to improve what already exists. It should map itself closer to user needs and, thereby, provide the user with a more satisfying and authentic browsing experience.


Author: Adrian Paylor

© 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited

How to Tap into the Constellation of Assumptions

In the quest to provide users with the best possible experience, a key priority for all UX designers is to make their products as ‘intuitive’ as possible.

The term ‘intuitive’ has been adopted by UX designers to refer to products which require little mental exertion from users and, thereby, are easy to use, navigate and understand. However, using ‘intuitive’ in this way can be problematic. It can mask the real reason for why such designs require little cognitive effort from their users.

The term ‘intuitive’ may conger up the notion that a design is able to tap in to the natural instincts of its users. However, this is misleading. For instance, no one is born with the knowledge or expectation that the search bar of a webpage will appear towards the top of the screen.

Instead, ‘intuitive’ design taps into the constellation of assumptions, preferences, habits, learned behaviours, prejudgements, actions and expectations which have developed both consciously and unconsciously from their past experiences as a user. Indeed, this has led UX designers to call for ‘intuitive’ design to be relabelled ‘recognizable’ design. Yet, to abandon the term ‘intuitive’ in favour ‘recognizable’ would downplay the importance of cognitive ease which is crucial to the user experience.

However, does this then mean that ‘intuitive’ design is inevitably just the perpetuation of design details familiar to the user? No.

Whilst is it true that many ‘intuitive’ UX designs do just simply reflect the learned habits, assumption and expectations of users, good ‘intuitive’ UX design does much more.

Good ‘intuitive’ UX design is innovated albeit in a very particular way. It takes users existing constellation of assumptions, preferences, habits, etc., and détournes them. That is to say, it reroutes them, it hijacks them. It attempts to arrange them in new and novel ways. It uses them as the foundations for integrating innovative elements into a design. If successful, over time these innovations themselves come to inform what is considered ‘intuitive’. Consequently, ‘intuitive’ design is continually evolving; taking familiar design elements and blending them with fresh approaches.


Author: Adrian Paylor

© 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited