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Why UX Design is Critical

Ania Dergachev

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When it comes to design, what do most people think of? They want their product to look visually appealing, oftentimes visually stunning and unique while also conveying a specific message or branding. Maybe they want their design to be easy to look at and easy to use. These are all important factors in how design is created and built. But there is so much more underneath the surface to design that contributes to a successful end product, that the everyday person may not realize. 

Most people can assume the basic principles of UI (User Interface ) design. UI is the type of design that focuses on these core solutions:

  • Do users find it attractive? 
  • Are the interactive elements intuitive?
  • Does the design feel natural and provoke a positive response?

But the real magic happens when the UX (User Experience) is applied. UX is a science, using psychology, logic, and intuition to create designs that will take the beauty of UI and make it practical to use for the targeted user. UX core principles can be summed up as:

  • How do users feel about the website? 
  • How seamless is the users’ flow throughout the site?
  • How easy is it for users to accomplish their goals?

Most people walk into a project knowing they want a beautiful design that will convey the value of the product or service. But the equally important and often overlooked portion of UX design is what can make or break a product. We have gathered 3 of the best examples in modern design history that best show how UX design is critical to the success of an overall end product. When done well, it can be life-changing, but when done wrong, results can be devastating.

PCs Before Windows – or MS-DOS

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Windows 1.0 was the first graphical operating system. Today  we are spoiled with great interfaces, so this may not look like much, but on the day of its release, it was revolutionary. Before Windows 1.0, there weren’t  many user-friendly options in the market. MS-DOS is a good example of what was available to the consumer in the 80s.  Windows successfully accommodated the use of a mouse, allowing it to work with several applications at once. Furthermore, the new operating system introduced a few of its own new apps such as Write and Paint. The biggest difference between the two systems is that before Windows, the user intent was only about task compilation. Windows gave attention to how the user will achieve his tasks, and how to make him comfortable in the process. Windows 1.0 revolutionized computer operating systems, paving the way for the future we enjoy today. 

Searching the Web: Google vs AltaVista

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Today, Google is a staple in our everyday lives. In fact, many people use it as a verb (how many times a day do you hear “Google it”?) In the 90’s, a plethora of other search engines existed: Excite, Webcrawler, and Yahoo just to name a few. AltaVista was one of the before-mentioned search engines. The biggest difference in the user experience was cognitive overload. AltaVista suggested so many topics from the get-go, that it was easy to forget what it was that you were looking for. Google simplified this by keeping it just  a space for users to search.

The difference is in how Google thought about the user flow. Google understood that the user wanted to come and start his task (searching) immediately without distractions. It created the simplest task flow possible. That’s a good example of great UX – when the most important thing is to help the user to get from point A to point B with the least friction possible.

Lincoln’s Disastrous Automobile Recall

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In 2015, Lincoln needed to recall more than 10,000 cars. What happened? A button misplacement. Usually, long discussions about button placing sound petty and unneeded, and even I have to admit that sometimes they are, but not in this case. The “Turn Engine Off” button was placed right above the “Sport” button for spirited driving. This placement created a hazardous situation where a person that was driving at high speeds would press to turn their engine off. Lincoln recalled the cars and created a fast design fix, where they changed the location of the button. This simple design flaw cost Lincoln millions of dollars and put drivers’ lives at risk. 

User Experience Design is not just a “nice-to-have” feature of design, rather it is a foundational principle of good design and critical for your end-product. When executed successfully, UX can often find a solution to a problem the user did not even know they had, and give the edge needed to cut through the rest of the competition. UX can elevate any product or service to improve its overall functionality and ultimately create happy and satisfied customers that keep coming back.

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