UX Equation: Value = Reward — Pain

A simple way to stay user-focused and avoid getting hung up on perfection

At Facebook, we love inspiring our community by finding fun and simple ways to share our research insights and findings. In this series, we ask our researchers to define their favorite “UX Equation” — a simple mathematical way of showing how they build great experiences for people. This week’s guest star: Carolyn Wei.

Most of us use products every day that have room for improvement — like a usability flaw or a missing feature — because we’re willing to overlook some annoyance to get the benefit. For example, people get flu vaccines because they appreciate having the immunization, even if they don’t really enjoy the needle prick. In my mind, value is the total of how much reward and benefit the product offers, minus the pain and inconvenience that the product might entail. 
Keeping this equation in mind helps me prioritize recommendations for the product team. People want value from our products, not necessarily perfection. If we create a product that offers tons of reward, we can probably afford to launch the product while continuing to work on a few minor usability issues because the net value is still so high. But when usability issues or missing features are almost on par with the potential reward, we know we have to fix those problems to boost the net value. To that end, we appreciate people telling us where our product can improve so we prioritize fixing the most painful aspects first.

Carolyn currently works on Facebook Groups, a tool much loved for creating communities such as support groups for people with rare illnesses and “buy nothing” groups, where neighbors can swap stuff they don’t need anymore.

Illustration: Henrique Athayde