Stop Designing F**king Sh!t Experiences! Please.

“Your personal opinion of a product, means f**k all! It’s not designed for f**king you! You’re not the one f**king using it!”

…Thought, every UX professional who’s ever been on the receiving end of this old chestnut, “But, it’s what the Business want…”

If you ever hear somebody say this — especially, within your own UX team — please give them a damn good slap, on behalf of the wider UX community.

We are hear to fight the corner of the user. Everybody else and their dog, will protect the needs of “the Business”. Just ask Conversion Optimisation’s answer to Gordon Ramsay — Mr Craig ‘the F-Bomb’ Sullivan (@OptimiseOrDie).

The Gordon Ramsay of Conversion Optimisation

With the swagger of Connor McGregor, and more effing and jeffing than DMX can squeeze into 16 bars, it’s fair to say that Craig took us all by surprise [in a good way], during his recent talk at NUX6, in Manchester.

According to Craig, the World Wide Web, as we know it today, f**king sucks. Not content with just that sucking, he has a very long list of other things that suck — the mobile experience, cross-device experiences, customer experience, business processes, business stakeholders (and their sh!tty ideas). He set out to put the UX world to rights, by identifying what sucks, why it sucks, how big it sucks, and how to stop it f**king sucking. And to be fair, he did it as eloquently as I imagine only he could, with plenty of f**ks given.

As much as I’d love to share the key learnings from his talk, I simply would not be able to do it justice, as I was too busy p!$$ing myself, laughing. I’ll wait for him to release the video of his Billy Connolly-esque performance, instead.

Nevertheless, I did capture a few standout quotes that I want to share with you.

Fix Your F**king Backlog of Sh!t

“You know that backlog of sh!t you have been putting off fixing all those months? Well… it’s costing you a f**king sh!tload!”

After months of unnecessary development effort, you’re glad to finally see the back of that project you all knew, wouldn’t make one iota of f**king difference. That backlog of defects you all collectively agreed to fix as part of a “mop up” phase, post-deployment to “Live” [knowing damn well, it wouldn’t be], is now just a distant memory.

But, what is the true cost, of choosing to blissfully ignore those bugs? Here, Craig gave us a few real-world examples, regarding the resulting loss in revenue actually caused by choosing to disregard them:

  • Clothing Retailer — 2 bugs @ £1m per month
  • Travel — 13 bugs @ £2m per month
  • Telecoms — 3 bugs @ £1.4m per month
  • Travel — 1 bug (iPad-specific) @ £0.6m per month
  • Event Site — 11 bugs @ £2.5m per month

These were just a handful of the first bugs, Craig and his team found. It took less than 5 days to fix them, resulting in a ROI of 91% — a sum he highlighted to be larger than the annual IT budget for some organisations!

Your Competitors Don’t Have a F**king Clue, Either

“Stop copying sh!t on others’ sites! Stop copying your competitors! They may not know what the f**k they are doing either!”

Hands up. How many times in your UX career have you been instructed to, “Have a look at how ASOS [or similar] have done X, Y and Z”?

Again, hands up, if you’ve been on the receiving end of the following response when challenging a dubious design / functionality-related decision, “Well, Amazon have X, Y and Z, so we should too”?

F**king annoying, isn’t it? F**k those “Hungry HiPPOs”.

As Craig highlighted on one of his slides:

  • Your customers are not the same;
  • Your site is not the same;
  • Your platform is not the same;
  • Your advertising is not the same;
  • Your traffic is not the same;
  • The UX is not the same;
  • Your device mix is not the same; and
  • Your mistakes are different.

STOP. F**KING. COPYING. YOU DOOFUS’! (Or is it “Doofi”? Hmm…)

Kill the Egos, Before the Egos Kill Your Website (and Your Company)

“Ego is the enemy of all good work. Much Internet design is infused and driven by ego.”

According to her 2009 release, ‘Ego’, Beyoncé “loves his big ego”. Jay-Z’s, that is. Big ego? Or big d… Anyway, I’m sure she’d soon change her tune, if she had to deal with some of the egos, we, as UX professionals, have to contend with, day-in, day-out — the Kanye West’s of the Business world (who ironically, featured on the Remix!)

Remember the ’90s, Electronic Arts, PC classic, ‘Theme Hospital’?

That’s exactly what the workplace is like today. Full of stakeholders with ‘Bloaty Head’ (inflated egos) and ‘Slack Tongue’ syndrome (from the constant verbal diarrhea). Suddenly, they’re seasoned veterans on all-things UX-related. Utter bulls**t. Leave it to the pros — those who actually speak to, understand and empathise with their users.

Because of these egos, we end up:

  • Making significant changes on a whim, without evidence or observation;
  • Building stuff, our end users don’t want or need;
  • Adding more and more crap to our websites, without removing existing sh!t to accommodate;
  • Ignoring the more pressing issues — like costly defects.

In short, we build what internal stakeholders want — not what our customers want.

Craig went on to discuss the Financial Times’ corporate model, where small teams have direct access to publish to FT.com.

F**k Having Meetings for Meetings’ Sake — Just Let Me Get Some F**king Sh!t Done

“No sign off chain. No stakeholder approval. There’s even a person to tell people to f**k off out the meeting!”

There are no Project Managers or Business Analysts, and stakeholders are decoupled from work. Stakeholders help define the ‘Outcomes’ (rather than dictate the ‘Features’). For example, “We want to see a X% increase in Y, in the next Z months”.

In turn, this approach means there is no ridiculously long review, approval and sign-off process. There is no, “Can you just change this a little?” or “Can you just move that up a few pixels?”, at regular intervals throughout design and development. And most importantly, there is less time wasted in f**king meaningless meetings with morons!

The upshot of all this? It’s helped reduce minimum project time from “at least 18 months” to 100s of releases a month. It’s enabling the FT.com team to move towards a position where they can measure and test everything they do. The approach helps them to better understand what works, what doesn’t work, what should be removed and what they need to iterate on.

So, What Does All of This F**king Mean?!

Time to hand it back to Craig, to have the final say on this one:

  1. Most A/B testing is dog poo;
  2. Cross-device experiences suck;
  3. Defects and wastage are huge;
  4. Eons are wasted building useless stuff;
  5. People and culture make problems, not tools;
  6. Data drives nothing — people are the lens;
  7. UX, analytics, testing and tools = success;
  8. Team productivity and quality still suck;
  9. Reform the company, not the technology; and
  10. Qual with quant, triangulates and focuses;

So, 20 f-bombs later, we draw to a close. Love him or loathe him, Craig Sullivan is a f**king legend in the making. Make that 21.

N.B. A huge thank you for the amazing work of Northern UX, and the likes of rick.threlfall, Gavin Elliott, Barry Briggs and Chris Collingridge, who pour sweat, blood, and no doubt drink plenty of beers, into the organisation and hosting of this annual NUX event, and all the other monthly meetups they host throughout the year. Awesome job chaps.


Further Reading / Useful Links

More About Me:
Blog — www.joependlebury.com
Twitter — @theuxchap
LinkedIn — www.linkedin.com/in/joependlebury

More About Craig Sullivan:
Twitter — @OptimiseOrDie
LinkedIn — www.linkedin.com/in/craigsullivan
Slideshare — www.slideshare.net/sullivac

More About Northern UX (NUX):
Twitter — @nuxuk
Website — https://nuxuk.org/
#NUX6 — https://twitter.com/hashtag/nux6

More about Financial Times (FT) Labs:
Website — https://labs.ft.com/