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Video | UX – why is UX important?

Author: Harry Cobbold

An overview of UX (User Experience) and why UX is important. Created in partnership with Dffrnt. Read the Transcript.



What is UX?

It’s actually a bit of misunderstood topic – if you want to go on Twitter and have an argument with someone, it’s a great place to start. Commonly when we’re talking about startups and products we think about User Experience and UX as being wireframing and creating prototypes, iterating and learning fast – and it definitely is that, that’s a really core part of it but really User Experience is about is looking at the customer journey as a whole. Apple were the originators of UX, or a guy called Dom Norman when he moved there in about 1994. His role was really to look at everything from ordering online through to receiving your iPod in the mail, the post-care support, iTunes – that whole ecosystem. I think my favourite example is that Apple were the first company to start shipping electronic devices with battery charge already, because they noticed that that experience of getting your exciting new product and then having to wait 12 hours for it to charge, was really lousy. So UX is about spotting those friction points in a product or an experience and making that more seamless and more enjoyable for users.

Why is UX so important?

One thing is not the game changer but then if you think about Apple as a brand and as an experience, when you put all of these seamless things together it creates something much bigger than the sum of its parts, because you find something just works! I think UX is something you really don’t notice when it’s done well but you really miss when it’s done poorly. If you think of banking pre-Monzo and what a horrendous experience setting up a bank account was. When you’re then introduced to something which is so much slicker and so much easier to use it becomes a real competitive advantage. And actually nowadays it’s almost becoming a necessity to have great UX, whereas it used to be about differentiation, it’s becoming more and more important for startups to stand out on that front.

How can businesses use UX?

I think the main thing, is which is actually the first thing we talked about earlier today, was that it comes back to users and making sure that we’re building things for users and from their perspective. So it is always about throwing your mind into that of your users and trying work out how to build something for them rather than us. Because when we’re sat creating software in a really nicely lit, calm studio it is very different to the way that users are actually interacting with our products in the real world, and that’s often where stuff falls down.

So one of my favourite examples of this is Microsoft Word. There are hundreds of tools inside Microsoft Word and they’re all actually really simple, we can all work out how to left align something, insert an image, add a table, simple activities and when you’re designing that as a piece of software it probably makes sense. BUT we use Microsoft Word generally in some quite high pressure scenarios. Such as; I’ve got a report which needs to be in by midday or there is a coursework deadline, whatever that is – suddenly the anxiety and the use case of that piece of software makes that rhythm at the top of Microsoft Word an absolute nightmare. “Where is that tool I needed? I know how it works and where it is, but it’s not accessible”. So it’s about trying to continually view your product design through the lense of your users. And the only way to do that is to actually put it in front of them, ask them, learn from them and then try different things out.

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