Designing Experiences Not Screens

Tips - 23rd May 14 12:33 pm - 0 Comments

Author: Henry Cho 

One of the biggest misconceptions making the rounds at the moment is that UI and UX can be neatly grouped together, perhaps separated only by “/” and blurted out like some sort of awful celebrity couple confab, “Oh look its Bennifer and UX/UI”.

Most people know that UI stands for User Interface and UX stands for User Experience. Where they get into trouble is that they then infer that since the UI is the means by which a user will interact with the product/brand then the UI is solely responsible for the user’s experience and hence the terms are interchangeable.

This is understandable as the work of the UX Designer is often invisible. Whenever I try to explain this to my students I tend to share the example of Tripit. Tripit, is a smartphone app that allows you to add and share travel itineraries. You can store flight details, car rental details, hotel details and more. The UI is quite good, its simple and easy to use, but that’s not what makes the user experience of this app amazing.

The Loop TripitTripit was acquired by Concur Technologies for $120 million in 2011.

The product owners knew they had a good product but they found that people just couldn’t be bothered to enter their details. The value exchange was too high, that is to say that the user had to give up too much of their perceived time to achieve a benefit that they were unsure of.

The problem was not to do with the user interface it had to do with the users motivation and the barrier to entry.

The solution they developed to deal with these issues were to allow users to email any confirmation emails, from airlines, car rental or hotels to the app and it would enter all their details for them.

This reduced friction and allowed users to see the value of the app with less of an investment. Usage of the app climbed.

If reducing friction helped drive numbers up, what if they removed it all together? What if all your travel details automatically appeared in the app with no user action at all !

Sounds like black magic, but they did it.

They delivered this to users by creating a “watch my mailbox” feature. Now the user literally has to do nothing and all their details are synced to their device.

As you can imagine, usage of the app climbed dramatically. The punchline is of course, the greatest part of the user experience here has no UI.

In this case the problem was perceived inequality in terms of value exchange. To put it more simply “I can’t be bothered to try you app because I don’t know if its any good (even though I won’t know if its any good unless I try it)”.

UX - breaking it down

Breaking down UX: The Infographic Iceberg.

Even though the UI was as simple and as clear as possible, this was not enough to overcome the issues of the user. A solution was needed that understood the entire user experience of the travel lifecycle, even those elements that take place outside of the app.

By taking a more holistic view of the situation the UX designers were able to identify that the confirmation email from suppliers was a core part of the travel experience and provided them with a great opportunity to make things easier for their customers

So to design great user experiences we need to look beyond the interface. We need to follow a user centred design process and focus on our users and their problems.

UI Design = Solving the problem right

UX Design =Solving the right problem

If the thought of designing these seamless user experiences excites you and you want to transition into a career in User Experience Design, check out General Assembly’s upcoming full-time course starting June 10th.



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