Tuesday, October 15, 2013

User Experience hinges on the little things.

One of the challenges of designing effective user experiences is that we can get so many things right but one small oversight can result in an annoyed, frustrated, or confused user.   It might be one confusing label among many well designed labels, but one that everyone has to get through during the initial use of the system (e.g. hard to find button on a shopping site, or a hard to figure out text box on a registration form).  Just one confusing widget in the midst of hundreds of well-designed widgets and the drop-out rate skyrockets. 

So here is my example for today.  My university just invested in the next generation of enterprise-scale telephony.  It probably doesn’t compare to the high end phone systems that some cutting edge tech companies have, but for a university it is quite an advance.  I can make video calls, conference calls, forward calls, and there are a few features I haven’t explored yet.  Good UI so far.

But the plastic handset feels cheap and doesn’t fit snug to my ear.  The weight is unbalanced and the earpiece is too small.  I am pretty sure that Cisco spent a lot more time on the technology UI and didn’t give the handset much thought.  After all, with all of these cool features, who cares about some plastic?  But the UX is ruined.  I cringe at the thought of a long phone call because I will have to hold that “thing” against my ear for an extended time.