User Experience/Myths about UX
- 1 About this page
- 2 General Myths about User Experience
- 2.1 Advanced functionality doesn't hurt - newcomers just won't use it!
- 2.2 UX designs the buttons, did you anytime see different outcome?
- 2.3 OpenOffice.org just needs to borrow the feature ideas from other products - and everything will be fine!
- 2.4 Usability or UX is something that everyone can do, it's just the application of common sense.
- 2.5 The user does not need to think with a good GUI!
About this page
We heard many things about UX, some are true and some are ... questionable. So this page is intended to clarify some of the often made misconceptions. And if you know more, then please add them - or just contact the User Experience Team at ux-discuss and ask if they're true ;-) Thanks!
General Myths about User Experience
Advanced functionality doesn't hurt - newcomers just won't use it!
Myth: Sometimes features seem to be designed for advanced users or to cover each usecase one can think of. If normal people don't need this advanced functionality, they just won't use it and so it doesn't hurt, does it?
Answer: Yes it does hurt! Each piece of functionality added to a system requires interaction - menu space, buttons, keybindings, advanced settings. This will automatically lead to an increased overall complexity that frightens or overwhelms users. So if you are in doubt if a feature makes sense for many people, then better omit and just serve their needs - you keep the complexity limited and people will be happy anyway!
Myth: If you ask UX, you get a nice dialog layout and that's it. So what is it all about?
Answer: Yes, the result of the User Experience work are GUIs, because it's the communication interface between the user and OpenOffice.org. But it is not about plain buttons, interaction does also have time component, questions the sense of features, respects the target user's abilities and learning capabilities. Thus, it requires a deep understanding about both the use of the software and the user. All those carefully made decisions end up in the final GUI we propose.
OpenOffice.org just needs to borrow the feature ideas from other products - and everything will be fine!
Myth: Many people assume that it is just as easy as copying a strong-desired feature from other software products to just make people happy!
Answer: Yes this works. But only if you have the same kind of problems to solve with that feature, and the original software behaves exactly like OpenOffice.org, and the users of both software applications do have exactly the same needs and expectations. If anything will be slightly different - and it will - don't just copy features and their behavior. You will never know if you copy mistakes. You will never know if it fits into the overall interaction concept of OpenOffice.org. It just makes it harder for people to learn and to explore such new features (working steps, dialogs, keybindings) - although it was meant well, of course! Moreover, think about it: if you simply copy other products, you do not have any chance to get better than these products.
Usability or UX is something that everyone can do, it's just the application of common sense.
Myth: Unfortunately, most people think that it just takes some serious thinking to come up with an excellent UX solution that serves everyone.
Answer: While no one would disagree that solutions which provide excellent user experience require some mental work, it is rather unlikely that common sense solely would suffice to get there. It is exactly this assumption that UX professionals try to disprove since the birth of the discipline. However, to make it short, it is rather easy to prove this myth wrong. So if we define the quality of a product that makes it useful, usable and fun to use as great user experience, then at least three questions should pop up in our minds that are hard to answer with pure common world knowledge. Who will be using it? For what purpose? And in what context? To these questions, there are no common sense answers. Every software application, like any product, is used by a specific group of people, for a specific reason and in a specific context. Or would you ever use hammer and nails to put a stamp on your envelope ;-) But then again, even if you are able to give detailed answers to these questions instantly, a whole lot of creativity is required to come up with a solution that actually helps the target audience achieving their goals while having fun. UX work is called one part art and one part science for a reason.
The user does not need to think with a good GUI!
Myth: People don't need any thinking or training to manage new features if the graphical user interface is done well.
Answer: Is "finding the right feature for a certain problem" described by thinking? Is "using a nearly self-explaining feature for the first time" some kind of training? At least it causes a minimum of effort... For office applications, the goal of UX is to minimize this perceived effort. If we succeed, then the level of effort might be low enough for many users to conclude that the GUI doesn't even require thinking. If we succeed...