When IT Organisations Fail to see the Importance of Good UX

Don Norman’s Teapot from Emotional Design

In the Global IT sector today good UI and UX have become a paramount part of a software product’s success. Just as the target user would expect useful features they expect to have a good experience using the software product as well. Good UX implementation is something that most users will not even notice when they use a product but when it’s lacking or in some cases missing completely the pitchforks come out. It’s not just that; UI/UX source code tends to comprise a significant part of a product’s source code and in some cases speeds up performance of a product by eliminating unnecessary extra steps a user encounters.

An Example of good vs. bad UX

Today the most valuable companies in the world are software companies. Companies like Google (Now collectively called alphabet), Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and many more are thriving mainly on their software products and are valued at 10s of billions of dollars.

I think one of the most well known cases of bad UX bringing down a titanic company the world over is the downfall of the Nokia Corporation. Yes, Yes I know they used to make one of the best mobile phones out there but bear with me. Yes for a better part of the late 1990s and early 2000s they made some of the best mobile phones on the market with unique software designs and features to fit the design of their phone but once the iPhone came out in 2007 Nokia suddenly found itself in a downward spiral into irrelevance.

It was simple, subtle and natural feeling software features that you never knew you wanted but once you experienced it you just couldn’t go back.

At that time Nokia’s best flagship was the N95 which suddenly felt dated with its many physical buttons and having to navigate through many stages of the software until one literally got lost inside Symbian OS’ convoluted UI. It didn’t help Nokia that most of their phone displays looked like an “etch-a-sketch” which paled in comparison to the iPhone’s shiny glass display.

Symbian’s downfall depicted in the graph

Suddenly every mobile manufacturer in the world began scrambling to replicate Apple’s unique mobile user experience to cope with the new paradigm shift in mobile UX. Android OEMs became very successful in replicating this UX and went as far as surpassing iOS in the recent past in terms of UX. However Nokia stuck to their UI and UX conventions and nearly a decade later Nokia is just a mere shadow of what it once was. A multi-billion dollar global corporation reduced to a small scale mobile phone division that’s just passed around by other companies in hopes of using its once great namesake for profit.

This is only looking at one negative outcome of not taking good UI/UX seriously. Good UX is not just an integral part of good software product design it can also be applied to the physical world to make our lives easier.

Originally published at lifeinabstraction.wordpress.com on August 1, 2016.

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