Design is everywhere. From the chairs we sit on, cars we drive and the most obvious, the apps we use.
The past two weeks have been quite intriguing. I have been baffled by confusing tap handles at my hotel room and perplexing mobile phone designs. I’ve seen it all, literally.
I think what’s most beautiful about learning User Experience(UX) is that you begin to notice all the examples of poor UX around you and which deepens your appreciation for good UX.
I used to think like whoever made that meme where users are dumb if they didn’t know how to use a smartphone. But technology is made for man, and not man for technology. If users aren’t understanding your product, your product should change and not the users.
Billy Gregory once said “When UX doesn’t consider ALL users, shouldn’t it be known as “SOME User Experience” or… SUX?”.
A lot of companies design products which only engineers (of the products) can use. And if the engineers are not users of the product, then that’s pretty useless.
So my mom happens to be a Gen X and a typical Nigerian Mother. This means that she doesn’t welcome what she doesn’t understand. But one thing I couldn’t understand growing up was why my mother didn’t want to use a “smartphone”. No matter how many times my dad got her smartphones as presents, they would either end up collecting dust, missing or with my little brother. She hardly ever used them but whenever her ever loyal Nokia torchlight got missing, she would get a new one the same day!
Now I understand better, her faithful Nokia torchlight phone was enjoyable, intuitive and easy to use compared to the complex functions of a smartphone. Simply put, it embodied for her the words: “Don’t make me think”.
My phone recently got missing and my mom lent me her “smartphone” to use until I got a new one and I had the worst time of my life trying to understand it — one of the most frustrating 2 days of my life.
The first problem was understanding what the icons meant?
Examine these three icons and tell me what each of them means?
Apparently, every user is supposed to magically guess that:
1 means shuffle between apps,
2 means home icon and
3 well (that’s a bit more understandable) means to return.
Though I understand the 2nd icon being a symbol of physical home buttons found on mobile devices, it took me a lot of thinking to realize that was what the icon meant. My mind intuitively assumed the square icon meant pages and felt more natural to click that when shuffling between apps. It didn’t help that the phone processor was slow and glitchy, I kept trying to shuffle between apps but clicking on the 2nd icon which would take me home instead.
I took longer to finish tasks, got awfully confused a lot of times and when you are trying to engage in a hot chat, going back and forth is a vibe-killer.
Dear designer, making beautiful interfaces will not take you anywhere unless it fulfills your user’s needs in an efficient way.
And while I appreciate there being text signifiers as to what each icon mean, I still don’t understand the correlation between the gallery icon used and an actual gallery.
Icons are a confusing topic on their own, no need to be inventive and add icons that don’t match up to the function.
Users feel very comfortable when they find familiar experiences while using your product. The affordance (the function or relationship between an object and a person) of icons are easier to understand when they share a shape we already have an association for. For example, a Home icon shaped like a house or a gallery icon shaped as pictures.
Finding Nemo (also known as the Menu and other Apps)
After playing around with different icons, I had finally found the Menu. Now to find the apps. Follow me as we go on this adventure together!
“I mean why not make finding applications a treasure hunt, users would love that!”.
No, they don’t.
Of course, there’s the option of dragging apps you use often to the homepage but why do users actually have to go through this process to “find” apps. The categorization of apps, however, is a good idea but it would be better to either make it a one-step option to get apps or just place all apps on the homepage.
Sending smileys made me frown
I apologize for the cheesy title *inserts anxious emoji here”.
Emojis are an integral part of texting. I mean, who texts without sending emojis?
For the sake of usability, most designers factor that into on-screen keyboards. Now, we have shortcuts that make it easier and quicker to send emojis while texting.
Sending emojis on my mom’s phone’s default keyboard is however a different experience.
It seems minute, but it increases the time taken to complete the “task” of finding an emoji (again taking into consideration how slow the processor is).
In case you are wondering what phone it was…
I mean, given the price, it’s decent. But the essence of this article is to emphasize the importance of creating technology that is all-inclusive and easy to learn.
Although there are some good features about this phone, its terrible UX didn’t allow me to enjoy them. These features seem minute but have huge effects on the reputation of companies and their revenues in the long run.
If you don't believe me, here’s a quick user review;
Galaxy J2 Core unboxing and quick review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL3qTBUf83I (Oh and after watching this review, I figured out how to use the Menu. How convenient! *Inserts sarcastic emoji*)
I’m happy to know that all these years, it was never my mom’s fault or that of her peers for not understanding how to use these devices.