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Does user experience always matter?

Does anyone have any personal examples of websites they've abandoned recently because of a poor user experience? Conversely, have you painstakingly gone through a poorly designed site anyway, and why?

9 Replies

Vijay Goel, MD
2
1
Vijay Goel, MD Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)
Gone through painstaking sites for business reasons -- procurement sites mandated by clients, any enterprise implementation (e.g., just put salesforce in -- it's got a high learning curve and is ugly, but it's better than the alternatives), many business intelligence sites pre-tableau, and most medical sites.

If they have something unique you need, then a poor user experience may be a necessary evil to get done what needs to get done.

Simon Bain
1
1
Simon Bain Entrepreneur
CEO SearchYourCloud Inc.
Hi. I cannot give names, but I will not persevere with a site even if it has what I want. If it is badly laid out. What I mean by that is: Maximum of 2 clicks to get anywhere If a form is to be filled in I only need to complete what is necessary maybe a little more, but I will stop at my inside leg measurement and my sons middle name! For me a good (well laid out and designed) web site is worth its weight in platinum. Simon
Sean McBeth
2
1
Sean McBeth Entrepreneur
Chief Technology Officer at Highland Fundraising Solutions, LLC
Bad user experience is a result of bad vision. Every project needs a strong personality to take charge and make a decision on exactly whatthe project should do. That could be the project manager establishing clear vision, or it could be the technical lead wantonly ignoring the project manager.

But that is rare. Too often, nobody wants to make a decision, leading everyone to compromise. Compromise is the death of a project. You have to stick to principles.
Shobhit Verma
1
1
Shobhit Verma Entrepreneur • Advisor
building an adaptive recommendation engine
Aren't you a U/X specialist!
Anyways orkut.com andhttps://www.irctc.co.in cover both scenario.
Emily Baum
3
2
Emily Baum Advisor
CEO / Founder at Keyrious
The new virgin America booking system is driving me crazy. Hate it. Love the airline...so I deal.
Tim Scott
1
1
Tim Scott Entrepreneur • Advisor
President, Lunaverse Software
User experience is a funny thing. Some of the hugest hit sites are just plain ugly and even cumbersome: Craigslist, Hacker News, wimp.com, and many other very popular sites. I'm not just talking about aesthetics. Uploading photos on Craigslist is still like a flashback to the 90s. Yet millions of people practically live in Craigslist.

Also, good or poor UX is quite a soft notion mostly because different things are intuitive to different people. I hear people say they love to browse around Amazon, and I scratch my head. I think they must mean the AWS dashboard, which I love, but no, they mean that crappy bookstore.

There's a line of thinking that adoption can be be negatively correlated with easy UX. The idea is that you're less likely to quit something that you have struggled a little to learn. A think there's probably some data out there to support this phenomenon.

To answer your specific question, American Airlines is about the worst website experience I've had in a while. It just does not work. I had to phone someone to see if I booked the flight or not.

One very common UX problem I see on a lot of sites is lousy search. On most major content oriented websites the best way to find what you want it Google, not the sites built in search.
Eoin Matthews
1
1
Eoin Matthews Entrepreneur
Cofounder at Point
User experience matters but whether it drives away users permanently largely depends on a) whether there are alternatives that the user is motivated enough and able to find, b) whether the users need that site's offering enough in the first place.

It's unusual for UX to matter in an all-or-none binary fashion forallusers-- some users want that product and will persevere through a crappy Yahoo Stores shop that hasn't been updated since 2003 to get it. Others get a whiff of a serifed font and intuit that the makers of the site do not share their core values.

For example:
a) I think Asana is a UX nightmare and a poorly conceived idea. That's obviously a subjective opinion about a powerful and popular solution but there are lots of alternatives so I use them.

b) I used to work for a document management software company. One of our products was borderline unusable and, literally, unproductive but the endusers were employed by corporations that had already licensed our solution so the endusers had to suck it up while our solution mismanaged their documents with 2 minute loading times (and worse). The UX matters but not so much that the user could really do anything about it. The UX was good enough to sell the product - end of story.

c) Ecommerce is probably the most obvious example where UX matters in aneasily measurable way -- there's attrition throughout the funnel and you lower that attrition with a combination of business decisions (pricing, shipping options, payment options) and UX (photos quality/positioningsizes, clear navigation, appropriate UX, product details, easy cart..... long list). You optimize the hell out of all that and you move from 0% conversion to industry-high conversions in some product categories of 10%+ for Amazon (and higher for niche players with a very targeted audience) to 100% where the business terms are perfect for the user (free product, instant delivery) and the UX is perfect (instant esp 1-click???).




melissa zlatow
0
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melissa zlatow Advisor
User Experience Specialist at User Centric, Inc
Thanks for all the thoughtful responses!

Vijay, I totally agree with you that as a consumer, sometimes a poor UX is, in fact, a necessary evil. But what about from the other end? I find it interesting when I hear things from small company owners such as, 'We can't afford a good designer; we can put the structure in first then make it pretty later'. I'm always baffled by these responses since unless your idea is truly unique and absolutely necessary, the real question for me is, how can you afford NOT to have a good designer?

As Sean was mentioning, I think vision is absolutely crucial. Designing the customer experience as an afterthought rarely ends well, and most definitely ends up costing more. Unfortunately, as Eoin was eluding to, UX may not always be the easiest thing to measure before a product launches, so that's a struggle in itself too. Fortunately for me, my clients consist of stakeholders for medium companies to large Fortune 500 companies who have already hired us and therefore already understand the value proposition. Regardless, I would be interested in hearing what strategies or tools would be helpful when trying to communicate the value of UX with lean startups. Of course, it seems like a no-brainer, but I'll admit it's possible I'm just biased, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

For anyone else, I'd be curious to hear about workarounds as well. We can't all be as insanely successful as Craigslist, but as Tim was mentioning, what about things like fixing the search function on local sites? Is it worth developing a good search engine on a local site, or would it be better to capitalize on figuring out how to find your product on Google since it's already been tried and true?
Ariel Jatib
0
0
Ariel Jatib Entrepreneur
Product Designer, UX
As several of the comments allude, the quality of the 'user experience' depends on the expectations and perceptions of the user. This will vary from one context to another. As Vijay mentions, sometimes Salesforce, while not ideal, is the best solution. In my opinion, your user experience better improve as you move away from the enterprise and towards the consumer. Fortunately, this is changing, as evidenced by the "Consumerization of IT" trend.
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