11 September 2017

Carpe Diem UX-designers

I’ve just finished reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. It’s a massive 600+ page book, but because it’s split up in three major sections (Healthy, Wealthy and Wise) it’s still still feels like a pretty light read. One of my favorite chapters was about Shay Carl.

For those of you not familiar with Shay, he went from being a manual laborer to having a YouTube channel with 2.3 billion views. The advice that Shay shared struck a chord with me. It’s simple, but also a bit controversial. He explains that the secrets of life are hidden behind the clichés we overlook.

Shay himself lost over 100 lbs and cites the example of ‘eat more vegetables’. It’s something he’d been told millions of times, but ignored. Turns out, a pretty efficient way to loose weight is, you guessed it, eating more vegetables. Hello broccoli! 🥗

“Carpe Diem”

There are so many different proverbs that have become clichés in our languages. My favorite is “Carpe Diem”, Latin for seize the day. It has to be one of the best known, right? Well, turns out, it’s actually quite powerful despite it’s misuse. To live a happier life, stop stressing about the future (or even worse, the past). Just be there in the moment.

Carpe Diem B*tches

Actions speak louder than words. Exercise regularly. Get 8 hours of sleep. Show up and do the work. The list goes on, but once you actually commit to them you’re more than guaranteed to see a real change in your well-being. These clichés can hold powerful truths, but we don’t always put them into practice. At the end of the day, it’s the simple things in life that work.

This got me thinking of whether the same holds true for some of the clichés we tell each other about creating great user experiences.

“Simple is good”

We want to create simple user experiences because we’re certain that simple equals good. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to share the page to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? Google+? Yeah sure, throw that in there as well. It can’t hurt can it? Well, actually it can. The problem is you’re moving away from simple and stepping into feature-heavy-land. More features should be a better user experiences because we’re able to meet everyone’s demands AND expectations, right? Wrong. You’re making it harder to use. Simple is good.

“Simple is hard”

Perhaps because simple is good, simple is hard. The reason why Apple feels so intuitive to many people is because they invest in making things as simple as possible. Most companies don’t invest in further simplification when the figure their feature is “good enough”. And in some cases, that’s perfectly fine. In terms of user experience, to be truly great, it needs to be simple and making that happen is really hard. Let’s stop assuming that because something seems simple, it’s easy to do. It’s quite the opposite.

“Consider the user first”

Perhaps the most common cliché about creating great user experiences is that you must considering the user first. Yet so many times, we’re finding ourselves in projects where our ambition is to solve an internal process/problem. Sometimes we’re just forcing a solution on a user without them asking for it! To find out what our users truly wants, why not just ask them? Is your company struggling with more competition and declining sales? Now is a good time to try out that cliché and consider what your users want FIRST.

“Mobile first”

The term ‘mobile first’ started getting serious traction back in 2012, yet most of us are still designing and thinking desktop first (yours truly included). Sure, we still make sure to mention ‘let’s not forget about mobile’, but it’s not our top priority. Thing is, mobile IS first engagement for most people already (yes, yours truly also included). Google have already reported that a majority of all Google searches are made on mobile devices rather than desktop computers.

My advice to you? The next time you hear something that sounds like a cliché, try considering how it can work for you instead of dismissing it. Who knows, it may actually turn out to be a good decision.