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Mythbusting UX design: 7 misconceptions about user experience

By Shayne Moore Posted May. 04, 2015 Reading time: 4 minutes

While web design has become a hot commodity in today’s competitive market, many clients still don’t have a clear understanding of what exactly they are trying to accomplish with their website. The most frequently listed goal is “establishing an online presence”, but the sheer vagueness of the statement makes it not much more than wishful thinking.

This is why user experience, or UX design, is very much in demand: it’s a fresh take on the design process; one that emphasizes ease of use and access for the user, instead of useless features or design elements. One of the main purposes of UX design is finding the right balance between adhering to the users’ needs and accomplishing business goals of the website.

Of course, since UX design is a relatively fresh concept, there are still a lot of misconceptions on the subject, ranging from the simple misunderstanding of the fundamental principles of the UX, to reaching false conclusions on the approaches that work.

So here are seven of the most common UX design myths that are still doing the rounds well into 2015. Let’s put them to bed once and for all…

 

1) UX is optional

All businesses have a user experience. It’s just that not all businesses design their user experience. When your company dispatches an invoice, the tone of that invoice can be on-brand, or it can be a template; both solutions will get you paid, but one of them also stands a better chance of retaining your customer’s business. When your company answers the phone, you can match the approach of your website, or you can provide a disjointed approach; both result in a conversation, but one stands a better chance of winning new business.

Think of how awesome it is to watch a service like Netflix on your phone whilst you commute, then to automatically transfer to your TV when you get home. That’s a consistent user experience. If Netflix didn’t tie those two devices together, you’d be getting the same product, but the user experience wouldn’t be so sweet.

 

2) Users make rational choices

The misconception that has caused the most businesses to fail ever, would probably be that users make rational decisions. Thousands, if not millions of great ideas have failed because people didn’t account for the fact that just because your product is the rational choice when you take into account all the objective facts, it won’t necessarily be the choice for people in your market.

Sometimes subjective, irrational aspects influence the buying decision the most; and figuring out those triggers for your user experience can make all the difference.

 

3) You understand your users

Perhaps the most common mistake of any business marketing itself, is believing that it understands its audience, knows what they like, and what they expect from the company. This should be made clear to all businesses: you always love your product too much, and think that others must love it, too. The only way to achieve results is to test everything and collect clear, comparable and objective data.

Understanding customers can only come from in-depth research. If a company makes assumptions about the experience users need, then the company is designing for itself. Sure, you’ll hit the mark by chance sometimes, but if you want to be confident designing a user experience assume you know nothing, and research research research.

 

4) UX is a type of web design

Many still look at UX design as some magical formula that’s supposed to “fix” a design’s problems, but in fact, UX design encompasses the entire design process and beyond. If a brand is a company’s values, then UX is how the company implements those values.

UX plays a huge role in web design, but its importance extends beyond the Web into every aspect of a business and especially into areas where that business connects with its customers.

 

5) UX is just about usability

While usability is an essential part of any UX and web design, the fact is that natural principles of business and targeting can’t be ignored as well. In order for a design to be a success both financially and as a branding tool, learnability and behavioral-emotional responses by the target audience have to be studied and then implemented. It represents an essential part of the equation in the success of a project.

 

6) UX is a one time thing

Perhaps one of the more common UX design myths is that it is a project that can be finished and put to bed. The fact is that because of the insurmountable opportunities for improvement, and the ever-changing landscape of the online markets, only those that continually monitor and work to improve their user experience can achieve measurable and sustainable success.

When companies implement a UX design, it’s not about choosing to rebrand, or adding a new channel to contact customers. UX design results in a UX strategy, and that strategy needs to be referred back to anytime a decision is taken in the company.

 

7) UX design is about new technology

In this age of technology, many businesses have been dazzled by the flashy possibilities of new, emerging technology, but just because a new technology is available, doesn’t mean that it’s the best option, especially when it comes to UX design. Technology is just a tool to achieve results, which means improving the user experience; and if it doesn’t serve that purpose, it’s simply a waste of time and resources.

Remember that UX design is about the customer, and customers often don’t have the time or inclination to retrain in order to understand something new. Implementing new technology is fine, provided that it meshes seamlessly with your existing business so that established customers aren’t alienated.

 

Summary

Even though UX design is increasingly recognized as an essential tool for business, too many clients, and too many designers, view it as part of a website design project. That couldn’t be further from the truth. UX design is an all-encompassing approach that covers everything from web design through to customer service. Running an ecommerce store, UX design covers not only the design of your site, but your returns policy too. Running a blog, UX design gives your unsubscribe process as much attention as your sign-up.

The most important thing to remember is that all businesses have a user experience, it’s just that the smart ones choose to design theirs, the others leave it to chance.

 

Featured image, user experience design image via Shutterstock.

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