UX myths to forget in 2020

In August 1971, a Stanford University psychology professor simulated a prison environment in the Jordan Hall basement. 18 college students acted out the roles of prisoners and guards for two weeks.

Hypothesis: An example of how people will abuse power, in appropriate circumstances

It was named the Stanford Prison Experiment.

It has been widely accepted by the psychology community. It has been referenced in hundreds of articles. Feature films and documentaries have used him as inspiration. No one ever doubted the validity of this experiment. Nobody but Ben Bloom.

It was recently revealed that the Stanford Prison Experiment was a hoax. Philip Zimbardo, the psychology professor who organized it, bribed the guards and inmates to make the experiment worse.

Suddenly, it turned out that many of the decisions of psychologists were made on the basis of a false assumption.

5 years ago, when I first started working in UX, I was impressed by the community’s willingness to share knowledge, as well as the sea of ​​resources available: case studies describing complete UX processes, templates and free tools for experimenting, as well as lessons from talented designers.

But all of these available resources come at a high price: information overload

UX frameworks strive to solve any project regardless of constraints. Advertising campaigns disguised as “free” content. Blog posting is more about getting likes than providing knowledge.

The immense flow of information has made it difficult to distinguish between signal and noise. As James Gleick once said:

When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive

Below we take a look at five myths and bad design practices that are taken for granted. They can prevent you from reaching professional maturity.

Myth # 1 Design is Problem Solving

Defining designers as problem solvers semantically implies that we are the only ones who can solve them. This is a mistake, because we are not special or the center of our companies.

Problem solving is a team sport. Thus, we must engage interdisciplinary communication in making and implementing decisions.

Of the many definitions of design, I like the one suggested by Jared Spool the most. He defines it as “the presentation of intentions.” This is a fairly simple but eloquent definition that describes our profession.

However, I stumbled upon the point of view of another author. Dan Brown describes the design, as a simplification… Both definitions can coexist together and more clearly visualize the role of the UX designer. Let me explain.

We do not solve problems in the sense that we cannot afford to solve a problem that users do not have or that the organization cannot benefit from. First of all, we must define what the real problem is, making an effort to detect it, and provide our teams with a shared understanding of how to better understand it. After that, we work with an interdisciplinary team to make it easier to solve the problem.

During this simplification, we create specific artifacts to lead dialogues that will take us one step closer to a solution. These artifacts can be wireframes, prototypes, or even whiteboard sessions. Many designers place too much emphasis on the product rather than the result, but we’ll look at that later.

Designers don’t solve problems alone. They first identify the root cause of the problem and then work with cross-functional teams to make it easier to resolve.

More on the topic:

Donald Norman on why he never solves the problem he is asked to solve.

Myth # 2 You only need 5 users to identify 80% of the problem

In 1992, Robert Virsey released an article claiming that 80% of the usability problems of a system would be discovered when 5 people tested it. Since then, we believe that 5 users are enough to check the project.

I don’t mind five tests, but the problem is that they will reveal 80% of the problems. It’s not 1992 anymore. Today, products are getting more complex and confusing as more people use them (leading to more likely scenarios). We’re doing the company a disservice by selling this “magic pill” of 5 usability tests because it’s less work and we can put our headphones back on and get busy. design

If we have inherited anything bad from the classic design, it is the idea of ​​the final design. Design is never complete.

Start with 5 users, then 5 more, and so on until you can predict user behavior, which Jared Spool calls “point of least surprise“.

More on the topic:

Jared Spool on UX design prejudices

Myth # 3 Too Much Focus on Methods

With so many frameworks, books, card decks, and techniques published every day, it’s easier for designers to experience “the fear of missing out.” So does the feeling of comfort from using a creative approach to a project (such as design sprints), rather than taking a step back and analyzing the situation before defining a process for solving it.

Methods, frameworks and tutorials give us confidence. We don’t need to put in a cognitive effort to come up with a new way of creating things. Fewer decisions need to be made. Why reinvent the wheel every time?

The downside is that no two design problems are the same.

Take for example artifacts

Artifact creation has never been the goal. The ultimate goal is conversation. If you can get your message across in one whiteboard session with a developer, then you don’t need a wireframe. But the prospect that symbols and Zeplin won’t be up to date is daunting, right? So we spend our entire lives drawing rectangles, moving pixels, and then transferring artifacts, because we are afraid that developers might do something wrong, and we didn’t have conversations that really matter. Those who help the team deliver something to our customers faster will receive real feedback and then come back to the board and make new decisions based on the discoveries made by the team.

As John Kolko said:

No method can be the solution to the world’s most difficult problems. Only hard work, persistence and lifelong experience can lead to real problem solving, shaping shapes and creating the changes that we as designers strive for.

Myth No. 4 Generalists versus specialists

IDEO co-founder Tom Kelly once said: “There are a number of problems that can be solved by deepening, but there are others that can be solved by expanding.”

I do not claim to be an expert. However, I am interested in many areas. If you’ve read Design Your Life: Live Your Way, then you know that it doesn’t matter if you know where you will be in the next 20 years. You just need to figure out what your next step will be.

Tip: Explore all areas of UX: user research, interaction design, content strategy, information architecture, visual design. Even the front end, and if you feel energized while practicing one of these disciplines, give it a second chance, but take your time trying to find “your passion.” Therefore, when you face a really difficult problem, you will know to what extent you can solve it. Moreover, you will know which areas and disciplines are more likely to solve the problem because you are already familiar with them.

UX myth # 5 boils down to the user only

It amazes me that the user experience’s worst enemy is its name. Not because of what it describes, but because of everything it leaves aside.

It does not include an understanding of technology constraints that designers have to figure out while working on a project.

This ignores the fact that designers serve not only users but organizations that need to stay at the top of the market by innovating.

None of the users will knock on your door when you merge a branch in Abstract, or give you money to solve his problems. And companies can. Therefore, you need to compromise. This does not mean that you will stop being user-centered. This is still a major competitive advantage, but you need a Trojan horse to help you keep your customers focused on the doors of your organization. This Trojan horse is stakeholder empathy and the foundation of a business language.

You must first show a real interest in the goals of the organization. Conduct stakeholder interviews to find out how they measure success. Determine which archetype their decision-making culture belongs to. Dan Brown’s book Practical Design Discovery is a great help in strategy development.

Once you can formulate a definition of value for the organization, you can begin to figure out the needs of the user. You will then come to an agreement with the team involved on the user behavior you want to encourage / discourage. Ultimately, your users will have a delightful experience and increased business value.

After all, we are not trying to make organizations richer in the name of capitalism or blindly defend the needs of users, because that is the name of our job. Our true mission is to find a balance between what users and organizations consider to be valuable.

There is an old joke that Edmund Wilson, an extraordinary writer and critic, read books “As if judging their authors for their lives”

With such care, designers must take in the information they receive on a daily basis. You should read this article with similar attention, and with the same attention you should approach your daily work and the decisions you make. After all, it is the combination of all these factors that will determine the success of your work.

Author: Clark Douglas

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