In his book, The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman has rightfully said,
Design, good and bad, is prevalent all around us. One might think that good design is based on a personal preference. However, most “poor” designs are often called so because they don’t reflect the user’s needs. Good User Experience (UX) Design is all about predicting user roadblocks and possible design problems.
Here is what we will cover in this blog:
Bad vs good UX design
Have you ever had trouble using doors? “Doors?!” you might ask? “What’s so hard to figure out about a door?” Well, think back to a time when you might have pushed a door, and it did not move. You try again, maybe with a little force this time, only to realise in a few moments that the door needs to be pulled. Doors with such poor user experience are called ‘Norman Doors’.
Everyone everywhere has experienced this. We have all pushed doors that need to be pulled, pulled on doors that should be pushed, even walked into doors that slide. A Norman Door is infamous for providing incorrect usability signals, so much so, that explicit instructions are required to operate the door. A well-designed door will not make you think twice about how to use it. If there is a flat panel on the door, to most, it indicates that the door should be pushed. And if you find that it is the opposite, it is a sign of a poorly designed door.
Consider another example of UX design in technology. Mobile apps with good UX design tend to use descriptive icons instead of text. Icons save screen space and are often more pleasing to look at. The use of icons also ensures that language does not become a roadblock when users are interacting with the app. Good design puts the user first and foremost.
Characteristics of good UX design
For a user to have a good experience, the product needs to have the following characteristics:
For a product to be usable, it needs to be discoverable and understandable.
It means that the design, structure, and motive of the product are clear to the user. The user should be able to figure out what actions can be performed and how to perform these actions on the product. They should also be able to understand what the different controls and settings mean, and how the product is supposed to be used.
To evaluate the usability of a product, consider questions like:
- Is the design easy to understand?
- Can the user find everything easily?
- Can users accomplish the desired task without any hindrances?
Consider the example of a ride-sharing app. The design should provide a clear and easy way to order a meal. For instance, a section where the user can easily enter the destination on the homepage would be an example of a good and usable design.
An equitable product is designed so that users with diverse backgrounds and abilities are able to use and enjoy it.
An equitable product delivers a high-quality user experience to all its users regardless of their age, gender identity, race or ability. Equity goes beyond equality. Equality aims to provide equal resources to all, whereas equity aims to provide resources based on the different needs. This is especially important to consider for commonly disenfranchised groups.
To evaluate the equity of a product’s UX, aim to answer questions like:
- Are the needs of diverse groups considered?
- Is the design fulfilling the needs of historically underrepresented groups?
Take the example of a messaging app. To make the design equitable, the keyboard emoji list should include emojis with different skin tones, gender identities, and physical abilities.
An enjoyable product design makes the user happy. The design creates a positive relationship with the user. A product does not need to be enjoyable for it to function properly. But, an enjoyable design enhances the user’s positive feelings about the product.
To evaluate the enjoyability of the products, ask questions like:
- Does the design consider the user’s feelings?
- Is the design inspiring or delighting users?
- Is the design keeping the user engaged?
Think about a music app that presents the user with song recommendations based on their listening habits and choices. This delights the user and creates a positive relationship with the app.
A product is useful if it solves a user problem. It is important to note the difference between usable and useful. Usability refers to the product working well and being easy to use, while usefulness refers to the product’s ability to solve user problems.
To evaluate the usefulness of a design, consider asking questions like:
- Is the design solving a user problem?
- Does it help the user achieve a specific goal?
- Is the design adding value to the user’s experience?
Review an example of a map app. A useful app will automatically mark paths with delays and suggest a better route. This helps the user get to their destination faster.
In a nutshell
We are surrounded by various products which are beautifully designed, and some not so much. A useful, equitable, enjoyable and usable design is essential to ensure that users have a positive experience with your product.
Before you go, check out this article about good design from the Google Design team and ponder over the good design of everyday objects you might have missed previously.