Judge: Adam Dimmick
Role: Customer Experience Consultant at Bunnyfoot
Do you have a favourite app & website in terms of the design and user experience?App: Waze
For starters, Waze is actually useful. It’s improved my life, making a positive impact on journey times as I drive about the country for work, helping me to avoid congested and slow-traffic areas based on the information it has collected from other Waze users.But more than this, Waze does a really good job of helping you to feel part of a community. You are encouraged to contribute to that community in such ways as reporting traffic, road closures, speed cameras and even local petrol prices, though issuing points for each contribution, but also just thanking you for adding to the community. Other community members can also thank you for the information that you’ve provided when they drive into the near vicinity. It can be very rewarding to get a complete stranger say thank you to you for very little effort on your part.Through this sense of belonging to the wider community, Waze manages to make even sitting still in a traffic jam more bearable. For one thing, you can use your unfortunate stasis to inform others of the hold-up and feel good about yourself for sharing. But you can also see other Waze drivers nearby and know that you’re not the only one stuck there, seemingly sharing your frustration with others in this special little club that you belong to.
Waze users are rewarded for returning and using the app which is great because it wouldn’t be nearly as helpful if people didn’t have it open on their phones as they drive about, providing Waze with all the data relevant to their journey (location, speed, etc).
Emotional design is used throughout the app, with a strong, playful personality, baby-faced characters, easy-going language and so on.Interestingly, I’m not actually that big a fan of the app’s visual design. The colour scheme is a little bland and the design of the map doesn’t feel as lean and smart as I would like. But that makes Waze a great example of the principle that great user experience doesn’t necessarily mean a pleasing design aesthetic. Too often great UX is mistakenly assumed to be synonymous with great visual design, which can end up placing too much emphasis on the visuals at the expense of a focus on the user. But more of that in my pet peeves!
Website: Can’t think of any right now…
Which industries, in your opinion, tend to deliver the worst user experiences, and why?
Airlines. I know that this has long been a popular industry to criticise, but it’s hard not to when there are so many companies employing practices that are seemingly designed to confuse or lead customers into behaviours that aren’t best for them.Now, to be clear, many airlines have made great strides in improving their the experience of their booking flow in terms of choosing a departure, destination and particular flight. However, my gripe is, as shared by many others, the honesty and simplicity of pricing.
Finding an airline that makes the total cost of a flight, tax, baggage, etc, clear and resembling the up-front price is a difficult task. Whilst I completely appreciate that costs are affected by the number and weight of bags, etc., why not use known data about average bags taken per person to provide a more realistic up-front price for comparison. For example, instead of saying “Fly to Madrid for only £29.99”, only to find the flight actually costs nearer £100 when flights and a bag are included, why not say “Fly to Madrid for £100, including taxes and baggage up to 20KG.” Everyone expects to be duped by price and stung when it comes to adding baggage, so to actually offer a the full price for a typical customer up-front might just persuade that potential customer to go with that airline for the sake of (a) simplicity (not having to go through laborious check out processes to get the price) and (b) gratitude for being up-front and honest.
It might sound counter-intuitive to forego the opportunity to make it appear as if you’re flights cost less than the competition, but when everyone is wise to the tricks and no-one believed the up-front price, what’s the point? Honesty could and helpfulness could easily become a key differentiator in a market over-run by companies employing misleading practices.
And worst still, the ripping off doesn’t stop when you’ve bought your ticket but continues when you’re in the airport (upgrades costing more than if you’d bought them online) and even on the flight itself (again, food costing more online than if pre-paid at the time of purchase). It’s multi-channel exploitation of a captive audience!
What has been the greatest game changer in the UX and usability sectors over the past 10 years?Mobile. Again, I’m sure this is a very popular (or perhaps clichéd by now) answer, but the emergence of the smartphone has enabled so much more powerful and satisfying joined-up user experiences, where the lines between touch-points can be blurred.
As well as this, focussing on the new design paradigms of mobile and tablets seems to have forced us to re-evaluate our approach to UI design, bringing forth new creativity in approach and a general higher quality of product.
Much can be said for designing within constraints as a means to cut out the unnecessary and focus on what matters. With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, we were forced as an industry to face constraints in terms of screen size and resolution, processing power and slow data connection. It is no mistake that it was within those tight parameters that some of the best software we have ever created was produced.
What do you think are the biggest challenges companies face utilising UX?Doing it properly – research led, actual engagement with users appears costly and it’s difficult to demonstrate ROI in many cases, however it’s the only way to do it right. Many people are calling themselves UX designers nowadays – but what does that really mean? At the end of the day, anyone can design a user experience, but not necessarily a good one.
Do you have any UX pet peeves?Form over function in the name of “UX”, unless the function (essence, purpose) is to be stunningly beautiful, in which case form is the function
If you could have any super power what would it be and why?
Time travel (with built-in teleportation facilities).. and the ability to make decisions.
Being able to see the birthing of the computer revolution in the 1970, the early Space Age through to Apollo missions in the late 50s to 70s… Generation Y has missed out on so many great things.