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The Cost of Ignoring UX

I’m a relatively recent convert to the need for team members who drive UX, the user’s experience. I often hear people confuse “User Experience” with “User Interface”. UX is much more than that. The UI could be a work of art, but if the user feels that the response time to get information is too long, that’s a UX failure. If it takes too many key presses or mouse clicks to navigate, that’s a UX issue. If the behavior changes in confusing ways, bad UX. Not paying attention to UX details can easily contribute to lost sales and declining profits.

As a proud Texan, I’m a lifelong Dr. Pepper drinker. In an emergency, I’ll resort to Coke. The piles of 20oz bottle that fuel me at work are a testament to my dedication. Recently, one of our soda fountain machines, the one vending Dr. Pepper, was replaced with a new touch screen version with exciting flavor choices. It’s modern, and fun, but there are UX challenges.

Old machine:

  1. Place the glass under the nozzle and dispense.

If the foam begins to exceed the capacity of the cup, stop dispensing, wait, and resume. Easy. Intuitive. Exactly one action to achieve my goal, a full cup of refreshing Dr Pepper.

New machine:

  1. Click to close the notice that there are new flavors.
  2. Select diet or regular. (Diet)
  3. Select Dr. Pepper.
  4. Place the glass under the nozzle and dispense.

Four steps. If the foam gets too high and you wait, the machine resets and you must start over again to finish topping off the cup. Next to the machine is an older machine that vends Coke with the older user interface.

I now drink Coke in the cafeteria.

Making things harder, adding friction, inserting steps, or slowing things down changes behavior even faster than doing the opposite. People take the path of least resistance and once you lose them it’s very difficult to get them back.

When designing any product, the consumer should always be foremost in our minds:

  • how can I make this appear fast and engaging with minimal friction for the user?
  • If a dependency fails, how do I degrade in a way that’s least likely to result in lost sales or alienated users?
  • Are we paying attention to every keypress and mouse click?
  • Are important pieces of information obvious and easy to find?
  • Is there too much information?
  • Too little?

Details matter.

Put yourself in the place of the end user. Eat your own dog food. Be critical and remember your competition. Be the customer or they may not be yours.


Written on July 12, 2018 by Bryan Finster.

Originally published on Medium