Identifying IxD Concerns
Ueno is a design firm that has a minimal sleek and animated website. Much of the content is either parallax or has some type of animation when you scroll to that portion of the page. Lots of images sliding in, almost everything has a hover state and lots of great little gif like the one below of the bike riders.
I enjoy all of these little details they added in and feels it adds to the awesome content they already have. None of these fade in and sliding animations would have bothered me until recently I went to sign up for their newsletter. The newsletter unlike everything else on the website is a pop up window that is on top of the page. This wouldn’t be a problem except for when I click out of the pop up window every animation that happened when I scrolled happens again. When things are happening spread out as I scroll it isn’t a problem, but when everything happens at once it is somewhat overwhelming.
While obviously this specific problem is not the end of the world it is a little annoying and because they have a ton of high res images on their page it takes a while for all of them to download. For a small design company this is not a huge problem and could probably be fixed with a simple line of code. However, the idea of the problem is actually very significant. Page reloads can often lead to lost input information, re filling out forms, and even wondering if what you just tried to submit was actually submitted. Having save states and confirmation of information rather just reloading the page is a huge UX problem that should not ignored. Having a great user flow and beautiful design is helpful, but when information and user input is lost along the way it can be extremely frustrating.
An analog example of a huge UX fail are the two doors in my bathroom. When you enter the bathroom inside my apartment there is a small door to the left that has a washing machine in it. In order to use the washing machine the small door must be open. The only problem is the other door is directly in its way. I don’t know why anyone would purposely put the washing machine in a bathroom (especially when the dryer is in a separate room), but even worse the doors open directly on top of each other.
The alternative to not having this ridiculous set up would be to close the bathroom door immediately after entering. Then the doors would not open onto each other, but you would then be stuck in the bathroom. From the initial design on having the washer and dryer in separate rooms and the absurd door structure, every time I do my laundry is a bad interaction (and not just because I don’t like doing laundry). Much like Ueno’s newsletter this isn’t the end of the world. I am still able to do my laundry and complete my task. If the door wouldn’t open it would be a complete disaster and fail the “functionality” aspect of what all products should provide. this brings up the idea of scale and what problems should be approached first. Should the door be changed to slide instead of open, or should the architect thought about the fact that people dry their clothes immediately after they wash them and it would make more sense to have them directly next to eachother. I’ve worked in many groups and something I have often seen is people getting to invested in one idea and trying to come up with the best way to solve it. Yes, figuring out concrete solutions to a specific idea is great but sometimes that original idea isn’t the best possible choice. For example if you see people’s hand’s are getting sticky from ice cream melting in a cone you could ask the question how can we create a something to catch the falling drips? While this may be a helpful question it is still limiting. A better question might be how do we make ice cream more transportable. This opens up the solutions to more than just a “drip catcher” but possibly rethinking how people interact with ice cream and includes all answers from the more narrowed in question. On the other hand trying to tackle questions that are too big, such as how do we make ice cream a better experience, can be nice to think about to start, but leave the options to widespread. In the case of the washer and dryer it would make more sense to ask the question what is the best layout for the washer and dryer, instead of how can we change the doors to have easy access to the washer.
While both of the examples above (Ueno’s Newsletter and the Bathroom Doors) do not contribute to complete failures, they do highlight important factors of design and how to approach both high level and specific problems.