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UX Myths


There is a dark side of the moon, Al Gore invented the Internet, Drinking alcohol keeps your body warm. You won’t get pregnant if you stand on your head after … well, you get the idea. Right? Myths are those hard-and-fast rules that often start as a conceivable idea or once-off observation that grow and distill into ‘common knowledge’ as it virtually spread. I know I’ve believed a few of these. Not just me but I’ve also asked my UX expert friends for their UX Myths and they have many!

So, let me acknowledge you with a list I compiled of my favourite remaining ‘User Experience myths’. Then perhaps you, like many other UX folks, will have some myths of your own to share…


Myth #6: UX design is about usability


Designing for the user experience has a lot more depth and understanding to it than just making a product usable. It’s a well stated fact that usability allows people to easily accomplish their grail but UX design covers even more than that, it’s about giving people a delightful and meaningful experience.

A good design is pleasurably seductive, solicitously created, makes you happy, and keeps you involved. Think of games, they usually have these characteristics or think of the iPhone that makes even failures more enjoyable than succeeding over Blackberry. Usability is just a part of UX design.


Myth #7: The Design Has to be Original


Well unique design is something which everybody look for but the saying goes like this “ Good artist copy , great artist steal”. Truthfully, I am little confused if this one is a myth, or just a hard lesson for me to learn. I love to solve problems, to come up with the ‘aha!’ moment of inspired UX design. However, if I’ve learnt anything in UX design it’s that the great design solution you seek is probably already out there in the corner of someone else’s product or service, and they’ve done the usability testing for you! Look for ‘standards’ or ‘waow factor’ in design, assess their UX suitability and quality, and use them.


Myth #8: Icons enhance usability


Many researchers have shown that icons are hard to memorize and are often highly inefficient. A relatable example to understand this is Microsoft Outlook toolbar. The previous icon-only toolbar had poor usability and just by only changing the icons and their positioning didn’t help much. What actually helped was the introduction of text labels next to the icons. It immediately fixed the usability issues and people started to use the toolbar. In another study, it was observed that people majorly remember a button’s position instead of the graphic interpretation of the function. In most projects, icons are very difficult to get right and need a lot of testing. For abstract things, icons rarely work well.


Myth #9: Usability testing is equal to focus groups


When it comes to collecting feedback from users, usability tests and focus groups are often confused although their goals are completely different.

Focus groups evaluate what users say. A number of people gather in order to discuss their feelings, beliefs and thoughts on a given topic to reveal their motivations and preferences.

Usability testing, on the other hand, is about observing how people actually use a product, by assigning key tasks to users and analyzing their performance and experience.


Myth #10: People Don’t Change


This myth assumes that the population’s comprehension with technology stays the same. I remember using an early Macintosh and watching the tutorial on how to use a mouse. Particularly how to double-click, and how to pick up the mouse and move it to the edge of the mouse pad if you run out of room. In its place on a modern Mac is a video demonstrating multi-touch gestures.

My point is that there is a history of cultural change that you can draw on. “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black” works for a while, and then grows old. Soon, people who use what you work on are no longer captivated or mentally constrained by the newness of the technology. (Of course, I’d still love those mouse tutorials back, and so may your customers.)


That completes my top ten of User Experience myths, most of which seem to have just enough truth to remain popular. Or not? you tell me! It seems everyone has a story to tell about User Experience design and I’d love to hear yours.


Saquib holds 8 years of experience in product, marketing and business analysis. He is the Founder and CEO of BrandzGarage and CPO of The Moustache Laundry.

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