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Bad UX is a Bug

October 28, 2010

in design

When I talk to developers I often hear a similar question, “Do you think I can become good at design/user experience?” My answer is always yes. I see the art in the code, devs attention to detail, the desire to make great things…but it wasn’t until this week that I discovered a way to accurately explain an easy way to digest it.

It’s this potentially contentious moment where I see opportunity:

Designer: “Hey, this click transition is not a good experience for the user.”
Developer: “But it’s not broken; I just tested the code.”

So I say to all my devs out there:
Bad user experience is a bug.

Working code is absolutely necessary to user experience, but there’s more to it. Building experience means facilitating the best ‘feel’ for your audience. You can begin by making the feature/page/experience you’ve created a bug to be checked. Pin it into whatever bug check-in software you’re using. If what you’ve made doesn’t feel enjoyable, simple, clear or trustworthy, mark it.

Now, go test it. Pull up the page for Rich in accounting, Cindy in sales, someone close in proximity, who has a fresh perspective; watch them use it. If it’s a complicated application, write up a little script that explains the task you are testing. There’s a good chance you’ll see what needs to be improved just by observing but ask a few questions also.

Here are a few sample questions you can modify to suit the specific scenario:

- Was it easy to (find, update, discovery) and complete the process?
- Was there points where you felt (lost, confused, unsure)?
- Did you feel confident completing this task?
- Did you enjoy it?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris October 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Well said Sara.
I’m a big proponent of raising lousy, or straight up bad UX as bugs. Particularly in larger teams, it allows the rest of the stakeholders, functional leads, or whatever else they’re called, to see the issue and reduces the likelihood of getting pushed to the backburner or added to a future list where it will ultimately die.

The worst case I’ve seen in a while was during a demo where it appeared no text appeared in the primary content area. The developer quickly jumped to defend his work, proving that the content was in fact there by selecting the text with the cursor. Though the text was the same color as the background, since it was actually displaying as programmed, there was an initial resistance to label the display a bug. Yikes.

Khoa October 31, 2010 at 5:04 am

Agree. And it could be a serious one too. There is not much point in building an application with beautiful codes if the end user could not use it.

Scott November 2, 2010 at 11:30 am

What a great, simple way to explain it to someone in the developer mindset. Thanks!

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