User experience design often loses sight of the actual user.
When sites optimize so much for the behavior that it wants to influence next (collecting an email address, moving people into a funnel), the reason that people come to the site in the first place can get overlooked (or buried under pop-ups).
There’s a continual balancing act between user experience and user exploitation: what is best for the user and what is best for the company. A designer has to navigate that line.
At one end of the spectrum, there’s been a lot of recent attention to “Dark UX“: “an industry term for sly design tricks that benefit the client’s bottom line. It ranges from creating defaults, such as a pre-checked opt-in email subscription or pre-selecting the most expensive options. It can also manifest in the form of interfaces requiring clients to supply their personal information before being allowed to look at the products on a website.”
At another end of the spectrum, in trying to protect the user, GDPR has added a few clunky hurdles of its own. Ben Davis at Econsultancy called the result “Kafkaesque UX”. He writes:
“Assess the following UX for signs of thoughtful design:
“You load up a mobile website and there’s a privacy message obscuring the content and telling you how much your privacy is valued and what your rights are as regards advertising and the sharing of your data. You want to agree to the terms of the message and hurry on to the content but for some reason the button to ‘continue’ is very tricky to scroll to and doesn’t seem to be tappable.
These are all design challenges, which make this an exciting time to be a designer. Collectively, I think we need to figure out how to bring the user back to user experience.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:
“Fat Finger Syndrome” May 2016
“Designing for Mobile” February 2017
“Design Thinking” February 2012