Logan Hing, Product Design Consultant at Strider, outlines jargon used in user experience design for companies of all sizes to be aware of.
Naming a job ‘User Experience (UX) Design’ almost sets it up to be mired in an alphabet soup of acronyms and terminology. UX relies on a language of its own, and understanding it is key so that both designers and clients can understand each other more easily. If you’re baffled by ‘breadcrumbs’ or worried about ‘widgets’, that’s OK. The language is really simple, once you get the hang of it.
Dark User Experience
It really is as ominous as it sounds: a Dark User Experience is a way of designing a digital experience to trick a user into an action or task that results in an unfavourable outcome. That could mean inadvertently getting signed up to a mailing list, and then having to jump through hoops to unsubscribe.
On a less ominous level, a Dark User Experience could stem from a company looking to satisfy its own needs on a digital platform, rather than a user’s. A bank, for example, wants people to open accounts. They can make it simple to open, but then challenging to operate the accounts because the (incorrect) assumption is that once they have the user locked in, they don’t have to worry about retaining them anymore. They could also force a customer to sign up for unnecessary products which suit the bank’s needs, rather than the customer’s.
Breadcrumbs are a secondary navigation system that shows a user’s location in a website or web app. It’s a nod to the story of Hansel and Gretel, who lay down a trail of breadcrumbs to help them find their way back to their house, when they head out.
In UX, breadcrumbs refer to a visual trail of links that depicts the user’s journey through the site or app, where they’ve come from and where they are now in terms of the site’s hierarchical structure. It’s a handy source of contextual information for users that helps them understand where they find themselves on a website. This means they don’t have to click through menus to find navigation options, because the experience is intuitive.
This refers to the amount of mental effort required for a user to complete a task. The aim is to minimise the number of clicks a user applies when attempting to achieve a goal. When designing products, services and features, it’s essential to keep the user’s Cognitive Load to a minimum to make it as easy as possible for them to use the platform.
Many businesses want to showcase every bit of content, all features and every aspect of their commercial offering on their digital platforms, but what’s actually more important is making it as simple as possible for someone to find the essential information they need. This means pushing for simpler design, which leads to better adoption of essential products and services because it’s easy for users to find them.
Accessibility deals with using digital design for good. It means designing an experience that is as inclusive as possible for as many customers as possible. That means bearing in mind potential disabilities and accessibility challenges that customers may have and designing an experience that includes them.
It requires a company to think that way across its processes, rather than just in the acquisition phase – or we head back down the Dark UX path. Once you’ve invited someone with accessibility challenges into your digital world, every aspect of their journey with the company needs to cater to those needs.