User Interface Design · Usability testing

Does user experience always matter?

melissa zlatow User Experience Specialist at User Centric, Inc

August 7th, 2014

Does anyone have any personal examples of websites they've abandoned recently because of a poor user experience? Conversely, have you painstakingly gone through a poorly designed site anyway, and why?

Anonymous

August 7th, 2014

Bad user experience is a result of bad vision. Every project needs a strong personality to take charge and make a decision on exactly what the project should do. That could be the project manager establishing clear vision, or it could be the technical lead wantonly ignoring the project manager. 

But that is rare. Too often, nobody wants to make a decision, leading everyone to compromise. Compromise is the death of a project. You have to stick to principles.

Vijay MD Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)

August 7th, 2014

Gone through painstaking sites for business reasons -- procurement sites mandated by clients, any enterprise implementation (e.g., just put salesforce in -- it's got a high learning curve and is ugly, but it's better than the alternatives), many business intelligence sites pre-tableau, and most medical sites.

If they have something unique you need, then a poor user experience may be a necessary evil to get done what needs to get done.

Emily Baum CEO / Founder at Keyrious

August 7th, 2014

The new virgin America booking system is driving me crazy. Hate it. Love the airline...so I deal.

EM

August 9th, 2014

User experience matters but whether it drives away users permanently largely depends on a) whether there are alternatives that the user is motivated enough and able to find, b) whether the users need that site's offering enough in the first place. 

It's unusual for UX to matter in an all-or-none binary fashion for all users-- some users want that product and will persevere through a crappy Yahoo Stores shop that hasn't been updated since 2003 to get it. Others get a whiff of a serifed font and intuit that the makers of the site do not share their core values. 

For example:
a) I think Asana is a UX nightmare and a poorly conceived idea. That's obviously a subjective opinion about a powerful and popular solution but there are lots of alternatives so I use them.

b) I used to work for a document management software company. One of our products was borderline unusable and, literally, unproductive but the endusers were employed by corporations that had already licensed our solution so the endusers had to suck it up while our solution mismanaged their documents with 2 minute loading times (and worse). The UX matters but not so much that the user could really do anything about it. The UX was good enough to sell the product - end of story.

c) Ecommerce is probably the most obvious example where UX matters in aneasily measurable way -- there's attrition throughout the funnel and you lower that attrition with a combination of business decisions (pricing, shipping options, payment options) and UX (photos quality/positioningsizes, clear navigation, appropriate UX, product details, easy cart..... long list). You optimize the hell out of all that and you move from 0% conversion to industry-high conversions in some product categories of 10%+ for Amazon (and higher for niche players with a very targeted audience) to 100% where the business terms are perfect for the user (free product, instant delivery) and the UX is perfect (instant esp 1-click???).




Tim Scott

August 7th, 2014

User experience is a funny thing. Some of the hugest hit sites are just plain ugly and even cumbersome: Craigslist, Hacker News, wimp.com, and many other very popular sites. I'm not just talking about aesthetics. Uploading photos on Craigslist is still like a flashback to the 90s. Yet millions of people practically live in Craigslist.

Also, good or poor UX is quite a soft notion mostly because different things are intuitive to different people. I hear people say they love to browse around Amazon, and I scratch my head. I think they must mean the AWS dashboard, which I love, but no, they mean that crappy bookstore.

There's a line of thinking that adoption can be be negatively correlated with easy UX. The idea is that you're less likely to quit something that you have struggled a little to learn. A think there's probably some data out there to support this phenomenon.

To answer your specific question, American Airlines is about the worst website experience I've had in a while. It just does not work. I had to phone someone to see if I booked the flight or not.

One very common UX problem I see on a lot of sites is lousy search. On most major content oriented websites the best way to find what you want it Google, not the sites built in search.

Shobhit Verma

August 7th, 2014

Aren't you a U/X specialist!
Anyways orkut.com and https://www.irctc.co.in cover both scenario.

Simon Bain CEO SearchYourCloud Inc.

August 7th, 2014

Hi. I cannot give names, but I will not persevere with a site even if it has what I want. If it is badly laid out. What I mean by that is: Maximum of 2 clicks to get anywhere If a form is to be filled in I only need to complete what is necessary maybe a little more, but I will stop at my inside leg measurement and my sons middle name! For me a good (well laid out and designed) web site is worth its weight in platinum. Simon

Ariel Jatib Product Designer, UX

January 30th, 2015

As several of the comments allude, the quality of the 'user experience' depends on the expectations and perceptions of the user. This will vary from one context to another. As Vijay mentions, sometimes Salesforce, while not ideal, is the best solution. In my opinion, your user experience better improve as you move away from the enterprise and towards the consumer. Fortunately, this is changing, as evidenced by the "Consumerization of IT" trend.