June 10, 2011

I'm learning UX

One of the qualities of good user experience (UX) is that people don't notice good UX.  They'd find the product good, but if you ask them why they like a product, they can't tell you.  Because they don't know.  They don't know because they don't care.  Most people don't care how a product works[*], but they care about what they can do with it.

I wrote a simple program that lets my friend Nags post pictures to her photo blog.  Yesterday I made two tiny little changes to the UI.  She probably noticed one of them, but I doubt if she would care enough.  (Now that I have talked about it, she might go looking for it and she'll find it.)  When I make such changes I deliberately don't tell her about it: she doesn't have to know.  People notice it immediately when the experience gets slightly worse, but when it gets better, even if they notice, they soon forget about it.

I wrote the first version of this program about 5 months ago.  She has posted probably around 130 pictures to her blog using the program.  If the program saved her 2 minutes for each post, it's a saving of 2 hours over 5 months.  That number doesn't look great[**], but not everything is quantifiable.  I don't know about her, but I get demotivated easily with repeated manual work.  If I had a similar blog, I would have soon stopped posting without a helper tool.  I'm sure my program makes her photo blogging experience a bit more pleasant, and that's a lot more valuable.

PS: I started writing this post with the intention of writing about what I have learned about UX, but apparently I have failed in that.  Maybe it would take some time before I can think clearly about them.

* Unless it annoys them.  I had an iPod for a long time.  If I want music, I'd press the play button; I didn't have to think about what all it did internally.  We had a Creative player that would eat up all its battery in 3 hours because it would keep the screen on when it's playing.  My brother found a workaround to turn the screen off, and thus improve battery life.  The Creative player forced him to think/care about how it functions.
** I spent maybe around 20 hours on getting the program to the state it is now.  Spending 20 hours to save 2 hours is not the wisest thing to do, obviously.

1 comment:

  1. you spent 20 hours on making the tool?!

    either case, the tool saves me about 6-8mins on average (including loading time of flickr, blogger, etc) so you should redo the math.

    PS: very honestly, i don't see anything different about the interface :(