Don’t Make Them Think

Please don’t force me to wonder “How?” or ask “Why?” when I visit your site.

Close attention to the User Experience (UX) means that you have thought out and eliminated those questions for me already.

I’m talking about a very small subset of UX involving navigation and getting me to do things on a website.

The thing is, most of us think a lot already throughout the day. We want to get to a website and find or do what we’re there for quickly without having to figure things out.

A common problem though is that common sense is often defined by folks writing code all day, the technical savvy and geeks of the interwebs. It all makes sense because of course the calls to action, the menus, skeuomorphic buttons, flat designed icons and several iterations of changes along the design process all make sense – except for us who might be mental zombies reaching your site after our mental juices are sucked out by several other sites and products forcing us to think and answer the questions above.

Good UX though means that the most mentally sleepy of us, are able to whiz through your site without having to ask, “How do I do this?” or “Why is this asking for that or making me do this?”.

This really applies to any website, service or gizmo.

This week, a sign-up process for an Apple iPad that I was helping set up for dad forced me to think way too much just to get to the homescreen. 24 hours later, I’m still waiting for an Apple ID confirmation email which has not been delivered. I have learned from experience and a couple of other iOS and Apple ID set-ups, you also better write down your security questions and answers (whatever they may be) because a day will come when you will be forced to think seriously about them to access your account and paid for apps – trust me.

This is not about Apple bashing – I’m a fan of their designs despite the recent lapse in UX for several of their products and services. I still recommend Apple products because the alternatives are not very peachy for those who don’t want to think and just want to get things done and move on.

Working with an enterprise level WordPress plugin this week however found me engaged with a customer experience agent that simply could not fathom why I was requesting that a few lines of code be added to prepend an arbitrarily chosen two letters to a product ID if a visitor to a site using their plugin forgets to enter this arbitrary two letter requirement. Ok, why not just eliminate those two letters which are not used in any other common site for this industry? Of course that’s asking for too much backend code work to make things easier for regular users – even my simple request to automatically prepend TWO LETTERS to a product ID for the user was seen as a HUGE request.

Every time I navigate the Netflix UI using the Xbox 360 remote, I’m left wondering HOW and WHY.

We’ve all been there and worked with products and sites that force us to think way more than necessary.

So come on, product designers, coders, support staff, product managers, project managers, developers, blah blah blah …

Walk through your product and keep asking whether you have removed the How’s and Why’s rather than causing mayhem in the mental zombification of users who just want to get it done and move on.

When I have to think less about getting it done on your site or product, I refer more users to you as well.

It’s common sense – that’s UX.

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