There are at least two ways to approach a UX design problem:
A: The Designer knows what’s best based on education, experience, and judgement.
B: The User knows what’s best based on behavior, data and analytics.
Option A is how most folks approach UX, even when referencing user research. In this process the Designer will often distort the interpretation of data to fit their assumptions. The reason this persists is because it presents folks with what looks like an elegant solution with a coherent rationale. Problem is, life rarely fits into an elegant solution with a coherent rationale.
“Pretty websites rarely convert as well as unpretty ones.” Seth Godin
Enter Option B. Designing UX based entirely on actual user behavior as measured by data and interpreted by analytics. Amazon.com is a prime exponent of this approach and the results are self-evident. Most creatives I know hate the visual appearance of Amazon. This delights me.
The folks at CrazyEgg discovered this truth and ran some data on the subject:
Why Ugly Website Design Often Converts (Better)
Anyone who has been around marketing or conversion optimization for long has heard that. It's a very simplistic view of…
Does this mean good visual aesthetics are pointless? No, it just means they are no longer the primary consideration. To amend the Architect Louis Sullivan’s famous dictum: Form does not follow function. Function is form.
Digital Design including UX, Visual Design, Content Strategy, and Copywriting will rapidly be transformed by A.I. that outperform human operators. It will make decisions based on rapid iterations of designs that actually work, not opinions about what might work.
Until then designers must listen first to data if they want to stay in business.