It’s not your fault -or- how bad UX makes you feel bad

I hate it when bad user experience makes me feel dumb.

Let me illustrate. I have an analog dial in my car that I turn to the right if I want to increase the volume of the radio and to the left if I want to decrease it.

In my son’s car, I have to reorient myself on how to turn up the volume. I find myself fumbling around with the buttons until I hit upon the right one. It frustrates me and makes me feel dumb.

Don’t make me think

Here’s the real kicker. To turn up the volume in my son’s car, I have to press a button multiple times in order for the the lines on the digital gauge to go up indicating I am increasing something.

Why did the designer decide a button was better than a dial? Why ignore a well established paradigm? It’s part of the way we think and speak. We "turn up the radio” (we don’t “press up the radio”.)

What’s the big deal?

With a dial, we know what to do without thinking. So why make us think? Especially when we’re doing something where distracting us could jeopardize our safety. Say something like, oh I don’t know, driving?

The more I think about this the more I want to punch the designer in the face.

What’s your role?

If you’re a brand storyteller, there is a lesson in this. If we make people work too much, they will get frustrated. A frustrated user is not a good candidate for retaining or acting on your message.

Yes, you should be clear in your storytelling. But you should also be thinking about how the story is presented. If your piece is a long, gray mass of type, you’re not making it inviting for anyone to engage with you.

There are some good things you can do to improve the experience you present. I’ll talk about those in the next post. In the mean time, let’s start thinking about the full experience of our storytelling. And make sure we’re not making our audience feel dumb.