The other day, I was watching one of Louis Theroux’s old documentaries, called Gambling in Las Vegas. Theroux has tackled grittier topics throughout his career, but nevertheless, seeing people in the throes of a gambling addiction – a retired doctor claims she’s spent over $7 million in 10 years at the Las Vegas Hilton casino – isn’t easy viewing.
But the thing that interested me the most was the insight into how Vegas casinos (well, casinos anywhere) are specifically designed to keep people interacting with them as much as possible – even when it’s not in the customer’s interest.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because the definition of ‘dark patterns’ in UX is eerily similar.
A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting Rolf Molich, a UX and usability pioneer who has been in the industry since 1984, at two events here in the UK. Rolf kicked off with a talk about ‘Ethical Dilemmas in User Experience’ at UX Sheffield (which we sponsor) followed by a slot at our very own half-day workshop, ‘What “Good” Looks Like in Usability Testing’.
At both events, Rolf was speaking in front of nearly 100 people – from some of the UK’s biggest brands – addressing and debating the key issues within UX and usability today.
Here are a couple of the most interesting topics that were discussed over the two days…
In my previous blog, I talked about why creating an emotional experience through design is so important to a product/site/app’s success. But if you think about it, it’s odd that this is the case; we humans like to think we’re rational beings, superior to our animal counterparts; when we make decisions – to buy a BMW over a Tesla, to get our coffee from Costa instead of Starbucks – we make them objectively, based on logic – not instinct or emotion.
A while ago, I noticed a post on Twitter that said, “a user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not very good”. Now, that’s obviously true; if your users have to spend their valuable time figuring out what your website (for example) is trying to tell or sell them or how the interface works – it’s (probably) not very good.
Sometimes, it can feel like a battle to advocate for a practice that isn’t easily understood (or is often misunderstood), even if it can greatly improve your business’ product, site or service. User Experience is a great example of this; most people get that it’s a “good thing”, but few organisations actually go about actioning UX-focused practices or projects.
That’s why we invited five UX evangelists to speak at our latest workshop, UX On The Front Line, sharing their experiences of implementing UX within their organisation, using either a specific project or things they’ve learned throughout their career as examples.
Steve Krug’s ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ is still one of the most respected books about web usability, nearly 20 years(!) after its original publication. Some might even argue it’s more relevant today than ever, especially given the number of sites and apps there are in the world.
Think about a piece of creative – whether it’s a television advert, an email, a website or a physical object – that has had a lasting effect on you. It’s likely that as you’re picturing it, a huge part of what you remember will be the emotion you felt at the time. When you think about it, you won’t just recall what it was and what it looked like; you’ll remember if the images made you smile, or if the copy made you feel inspired.
The word ‘trendy’ usually brings to mind one of two things: older people trying desperately to keep up-to-date with current fads, or someone who has a willingness to follow, rather than lead. It’s true: blindly following trends – in your personal and professional life – because of your peers, colleagues or competitors is rarely a good thing to do.