User Experience at Datafy.it — Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned

Žan Anderle
Mar 27, 2015 · 8 min read

How to take care of UX even when you don’t have the resources to have an expert UX designer on the team.

At Datafy.it we’ve managed to start taking good care of UX, regardless of not having the expertise or the resources. It doesn’t take a lot, contrary to what some people think. By devising and using some simple tweaks we’ve managed to make a big difference. I wanted to share what we’ve learned through the things we’ve messed up on the way.

I address the two issues that make teams forget about UX: lack of resources and knowledge. Not having enough resources or knowledge is no excuse for putting UX on a side-track.

This usually happens to small teams. The reason being that in big teams it is scarcely a problem to hire a specific person (or a whole team) devoted to UX. Small teams or startups can’t afford that. On top of that, when it comes to web and mobile apps, teams usually consist of mainly developers. Overly-technical developers that are sometimes just a bit too clunky. I know the feeling because I am a part of such a team. The good news is that designing pretty good UX is not hard at all.

Mistakes made and lessons learned

Today, the one thing users point out is the ease of use. Needless to say, we are not spending any more time explaining how to use our app.

Through the process of developing Datafy.it we also learned a couple of things about developing user experience. And the way these things usually go, we had to make a few mistakes before learning the important lessons. Here is a list of 7 mistakes we made that made us learn 7 valuable lessons.

1. Forgetting about UX because of lack of resources

Lesson: Someone needs to be in charge of UX. Assign someone right now.

2. Forgetting about the user

Lesson: Someone should always consider and defend user’s point of view.


3. Lack of communication between developers, sales and customer support

Lesson: Include developers to customer support. Sales and developers should be in constant communication.


4. Overcomplicating

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https://xkcd.com/974/

The scary thing about complicating is that it is so easy to achieve, without even realizing you are doing it. This is true especially for developers. At any given moment we have 30 ideas for new features regarding any aspect of the app. They all sound great in your head, when in fact most of them are ridiculous. This can be an issue, because if you follow all those impulses you end up with an unusable app.
What we’ve learned is that we need to be critical of ideas for new features (as well as existing ones). For each one we have to ask ourselves whether anyone will use it. It is important to assume no one will use it and move forward only if we have evidence that says otherwise. The same goes for existing features — if no one is using it, then just cut it. You’re not doing anyone any favors by supporting too many features.

Lesson: Simplify. You don’t need that many features.


5. Use of technical language

Lesson: Use plain English.


6. Not listening to the users

Lesson: Listen to your users. Test new features/designs with actual people.


7. Failing to adopt basic heuristics

Lesson: Follow some basic principles — consistency and feedback.


User Experience matters

All it took were some simple tweaks to the way we work. Anyone can (and should) do the same. Your users will be grateful.

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