March 22 2016

Anti UX & the age of Snapchat

If usability engineers designed a nightclub, it would be clean, quiet, brightly lit, with lots of places to sit down, plenty of bartenders, menus written in 18-point sans-serif, and easy-to-find bathrooms. But nobody would be there. They would all be down the street at Coyote Ugly pouring beer on each other.

— Joel Spolsky

I have pondered this subject lately while working on an app for kids/young adults. Can to much UX focus hurt the app by making it boring?

Look at Snapchat – it’s an app that is utterly confusing yet hugely popular. Would it be as popular with a more conformist UI? Probably not. Discovering new features and mastering the app is a part of the experience. Tips and tricks spread word to mouth which helps promote the app.

Of course, experience can mean several wildly different things. User experience (as in UX) usually means something is intuitive and easy to use. To achieve this the designer often relies on established patterns already familiar to the user.

The opposing type of experience is immersive, captivating, and exciting. Sometimes in puzzling ways. With the right audience this may help spark interest for the app.

It’s so easy to always do the expected design. And for many projects that no doubt is the best way of doing it. But sometimes blod and weird and curious might be the way to go.

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