In the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the awareness of the value of UX amongst business executives and decision makers. More and more companies are building their own internal UX teams, or contracting UX design and user research consulting services.
Whilst most businesses understand the benefits that UX can bring into projects, there are still a lot of misconceptions about UX and our work as UX professionals:
1. UX is not just about the user
Instead, UX is about finding the right balance between users, business and technology. One important part of our work is to understand who our users are, what they need and want. But that is just the first part. The second, and most important part is to be able to design products or services that not only meet those users needs, but also specific business goals and technology constrains.
If you design the perfect product for your users, but it is not possible to build, your users will never get the benefit of using it (we can’t design a good user experience if the user never gets to experience it).
If you design the perfect product for your users, but you do not take into account the business objectives, the business may see no value in the product resulting in your users not having a product anymore (often ruining the experience and satisfaction ratings).
2. UX is not just about “keeping it simple”
There is a difference between “simple” and “usable”. If we really wanted simple products, we would all have mobiles that just allowed us to make and receive calls, instead of smartphones with lots of features. As Don Norman (http://www.jnd.org/) says, “It’s not complexity that’s the problem, it’s bad design. Bad design complicates things unnecessarily and confuses us.”
The core value of UX is about removing any unnecessary complexity. Any product or interface should be as complex as the task you are trying to accomplish, but no more.
3. UX is not just about applying best practices or guidelines
UX best practices and guidelines are definitely helpful to avoid the same mistakes that other products have done before. But you can follow all best practices and still have a product that does not provide any value or solve your users core problem. Understanding who are your users, what tasks they are trying to accomplish with your product and how this fits into their lives is much more complex than applying UX best practices (and it requires involving real users within your design process).
4. UX is not just about copying Amazon, Google or Apple
These companies spend a lot of money on user research, UX design and usability testing so they are a good reference for best practices or new interaction design patterns (because they also create trends).
But we need to be able to analyse their design decisions critically. Why did they do that? Is it applicable to my project? A certain design pattern might work perfectly for Google, but will not be the most suitable for your project (your business objectives, your users, or your volume of content are probably different).
5. UX is not just about wireframes
Wireframes or prototypes are just communication tools to show what will be displayed on each screen and how each screen links together. Just because you were shown wireframes of your new website, it does not mean it will have a great UX.
What really matters is the rationale behind the wireframes: the decisions about what features or contents need to be included in the website and how to organize them considering the users mental model and the business needs to optimize the key user journeys and create delight.
Further, wireframes are one of the most common artifacts that user experience practitioners have in their toolbox, but there are many more: from user journeys to empathy maps.
User experience professionals can bring significant value to businesses, not only helping to avoid usability problems but creating innovative, meaningful and delightful product experiences for our users.
But for that, we still need to continue working to debunk these and other common misconceptions about UX.
If you are also part of the User Experience community: what other UX myths do you see in your daily work? (And most importantly, what are you doing to debunk them?)