Judge: Harry Brignull
Role: UX Consultant Spotify
Do you have a favourite app & website in terms of the design and user experience?
It’s kind of nerdy but I’m really into airtable at the moment. It’s an elegantly simple relational database creation tool. These sorts of things used to be quite horrific to set up, which is why so many businesses use spreadsheets for things they were never intended for – like tracking, resourcing and workflow management. It takes a lot of clever design decision-making to take something as intimidating as a database and add UI constraints so that it can be just picked up and used without training.
Which industries, in your opinion, tend to deliver the worst user experiences, and why?
User experience is usually terrible when the purchaser and the user are different people, and when the user’s behaviour has no impact on revenue. Take corporate e-learning, for example. Someone responsible for staff training picks a provider – mainly based on price, and they build a training product. This gets foisted upon new staff, whose best bet is to just grin and bear it until the training is over. They never have to look at it again, so why complain? There’s no feedback loop from the user to the product owner, and there’s no metrics being tracked that would lead to a better experience. You get the same sorts of issues in the Enterprise world. Enterprise providers know that the people they have to charm and take out for dinner are the buyers, not the end users. This sort of disconnect takes a lot of education and work to overcome.
What do you think are the biggest challenges companies face utilising UX?
One of the most contemporary challenges I’ve noticed is around integrating data science, analytics, qualitative user research and product design in a way that really helps you innovate and optimise. A lot of big orgs these days are going big on data science and analytics but not the other two, which causes a loss of perspective.
Do you have any UX pet peeves?
Hell yes. Product managers and designers who think they’re being smart by burying the terms and conditions; by making cancellation difficult; by abusing defaults; by weaponising cognitive biases and using them to trick people into clickimg through. Dark Patterns are the scourge of the digital age.