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When UX is used wrongly (and how to fix it)

Optimising the user experience

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All UX designers want to create better user experiences with their designs. UX is often seen as the domain of app or web designers. Even a print designer who does the layout for a magazine tries to anticipate the reader’s reaction. He or she looks at the needs, preferences and opinions of relevant users of the magazine.

As all designers are concerned with designing user experiences, the role of UX designers is now one where the focus is on creating a product or service.  This is done with the help of research and testing in order to better guide decision-making. To research or test something, you need metrics: a baseline and a goal to measure against. No single set of metrics is appropriate for all projects, but as it is mostly focused on financial gain, the Pirate Metrics Framework-acquisition, activation, retention, referral, revenue-is a good starting point. In some cases, you may want to look for very different metrics. For example, a museum might measure the success of its educational programme by the number of students who go on to study palaeontology. However, these kinds of statistics are difficult to express in actual terms. With the exception of a few niche cases, successful UX design increases user productivity, reduces errors, lowers support costs and increases sales. So if it’s all so simple, why is UX used wrong? 

UX vs. design principles: to understand what UX is, you need to understand what UX is not

One of the most easily understood design principles is hierarchy: bigger is more important. This means that a headline is visually stronger than a sub-headline. A sub-head is in turn visually stronger than the main text. Design principles in UX design stem from one thing: human-centred design. Bigger is more important on the most basic level. The bigger a sabre-toothed tiger is, the more likely it is to want to eat you. 

Human evolution is so slow that if a smartphone had existed in the past, a neanderthal would have been able to press a button with the same precision as us. Prehistoric man has the same minimum button size as modern man, namely 48 x 48 px. Design principles do not change, do not require research and do not need to be verified with tests. On the other hand, a neanderthal would not have understood a smartphone. Let alone how an app works. You only have to go back one generation to find perfectly intelligent people baffled by a commonly used design pattern. 

Contrary to design principles, the user experience is like a house built on sand. When the sand shifts, the walls crack. The bricks are still solid, but the rain is coming in. Because effective UX design is temporary, so is the ROI. 

Technology breaks UX

Technology is developing at a rapid pace. As technology evolves, so does the user experience defined by that technology. The classic example of this is the mobile revolution, but technological change does not necessarily mean hardware. One of the most significant shifts in UXD (User Experience Design) has been the popularisation of AJAX: the process of using JavaScript to load new data without refreshing the page. This has been around since the early 2000s, but it was only in the last 10 years that it became possible to use it on a large scale. 

Jacob’s Law states that users spend most of their time on other websites and, as a result, prefer your own web design to function just like other websites. And you do this by following familiar design patterns. 

Even if your UX design is thoroughly tested and optimised while other sites are doing their own research, they will test against the background of newer technology. As a result, the other sites will change, gradually eroding the UX of your website. 

The consequence of constant technological change is that user research is constantly invalidated. The UX design of an app, site or service begins to deteriorate as soon as it is created. 

User Experience Life Cycle

Humans have two deep-seated motivations: survival and procreation. The most important, survival, depends on new discoveries: new sources of food, new routes through dangerous areas, new ways to skin a mammoth. We are biologically programmed to seek out innovation. 

A typical user goes through three phases of interacting with a site, app or service: discovery > comfort > boredom. Churn, or drop-off, usually occurs in the discovery phase (if the comfort phase develops too slowly) or the boredom phase. The sweet spot is the comfort phase. This is the part of the business customer relationship where the customer needs minimal support and is least likely to drop out.

The most effective form of UX – that is, the UX design that meets most of the statistics – takes a user quickly from discovery to comfort and then continuously brings the user back to the beginning of the comfort phase without falling back into discovery. A specialised web agency can achieve this for you by making simple functionality adjustments to carrying out complete style overhauls.


All UXD, regardless of the quality, investment level and skill of the web agency, start to deteriorate the moment they are created. Design principles such as simplicity are good indicators of a successful UID (User Interface Design) and are timeless. Comprehensive design systems (such as FigmaAdobe XD and Sketch), brand activation and content ensure a good ROI. The most effective UX design is widely known and continuously updated in various ways. As a result, users benefit from the comfort of what is familiar, while experiencing the excitement of discovery time and time again.

Do you want to outsource your UX design and be sure that your web design meets all the requirements? Then contact us as an experienced web agency. We are here for you and will create an up-to-date UX design.