The hidden danger of experience design


A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about some products he had reviewed. These ranged from websites to PC software to non-computer stuff, and he had been asked to look at them in terms of the user experience they provided. Although he had been using these products for years, he came up with a pretty long list of issues that he never noticed before — many of them pretty severe. Like most of us, he had learned to live with the defects. Only when looking at the products from a fresh perspective did he see just how faulty the designs were.

With most products, it seems like nobody ever tried using them before they were put on sale. So the defects that my friend found weren’t all that surprising. But there was another takeaway from this exercise. Once you learn to look for the things that make products hard to learn and use, you start to see these issues all around you. The better you get at understanding what makes for a good user experience, the more you notice the bad ones. And this latter group seems to be everywhere.

In this blog, I’ll be looking at examples of good and bad product experiences. My goal is to show you what works and what doesn’t, and how the “small things” can actually make a huge difference. I’ve also started to collect some of the best online resources to help you learn about designing great products. But a warning is in order: If you decide to follow this path, you’re going to start seeing things that you want to change in almost every product you use. It can be a bit maddening at times. But if you want to make your own work and the products you’re involved with better, I think it’s worth the risk.