I used to have this bike back in college that I rode everywhere. It baffled my friends that I chose to ride a bike, not because the concept of “green” transportation was bizarre or unfamiliar to them, but because of the particular bike that I rode. It was terrible. The gears on the back wheel protruded too far from the bike and they would snag my pant legs and rip them apart.
By now you’re probably thinking “duh, roll the pant leg up” because most bikes will do this if your pants are flared enough at the bottom, but this bike would cut and scratch my leg if I didn’t make a conscious effort to bow it out. So, I had a bike that caused my physical pain to ride, unless I was willing to sacrifice some pants en route. I think it goes without saying, but this bike was horribly designed. It looked really nice (so nice, in fact, that some poor sucker stole it from a bike rack on campus) but it was a nightmare to ride. The designer spent a lot of time thinking about the aesthetic appeal of the bike and forgot that it’s a bike that someone will want to ride.
Why am I ranting about my long lost collegiate bicycle? User experience. Every interaction that you have with a product is a user experience. It doesn’t matter what the product does, whether it’s a well-intentioned mobile app you can’t login to, a crockpot, or even your bicycle. The experience I had on my bike was bad.
User experience, or UX, is a big deal in the world of websites and apps. If a user cannot figure out what you expect them to do on a website how are they going to be able to purchase your product? Too often companies focus web development efforts on aesthetics rather than functionality, and their users become frustrated and bounce.
User-centered design attempts to correct this issue by redefining the planning and implementation process around projects. Aesthetics and system foundations
are not the pillars of user-centered design, functionality and usability are. That is not to say that designers can’t create both, but if the designer who created my bike had focused on usability I probably would have been able to ride it without needing to disinfect my leg after each use.
Here at Name.com we dabble in user-centered design. We are by no means experts at it, but we are trying to improve our process and develop products that our customers actually want to use. We have learned a lot in our journey to improve the UX on our website and I think you could learn a great deal from our ideas, initiatives, and mistakes.
And just like that, I’m kicking off a blog series on the UX design process. This post is just an introduction to the concept with many more posts to come.