It’s Just Bad Is Not Enough

I remember a conversation with someone about an app, let’s call him Jack.
Me: What do you think of this app?
Jack: It’s bad.
Me: What’s so bad about it?
Jack: It’s just bad.
Me: Is it the content? The navigation? The visual design?
Jack: Maybe all of them. It’s just bad.

Jack is not a UX Designer, and he’s a type of person who hardly dissect his experience. It’s ok for him to be like that. But as a UX Designer, or someone who’s in charge of designing an app, you have to be able to dissect your experience when using any app, yours or others. If you can’t dissect experience that you want the users to have, it’s gonna be hard for you to design it, and it’s even harder for the engineers to build the app and for the Visual designers to create the visual design.

If you’re like Jack, who hardly dissect an experience, there’s a good news: it can be practiced. You just have to know what to analyze, in a more structured way.

I always like to use Garrett’s Elements of User Experience. There are five things that you can use to analyze the experience of using an app: Strategy, Scope, Structure, Skeleton, and Surface.

Start from the bottom (it’s at the bottom of Garrett’s diagram): the Strategy. Even if you’re analyzing someone else’s app, you can always imagining what their strategy is. Remember that you’re practicing experience dissection. There’s no right or wrong here.
Strategy is about two things:

  1. What does the company want out of this app?
  2. What do users want out of this app?

After you answer those questions, ask this: How do you feel about that?

Move to the next layer of Garrett’s elements, you’ll analyze the Scope. Scope is about content requirement and functional specification.
What do you think of the content? Does it provide content that users want? Is the style of conversation appropriate?
What about the features? Do they put too many features? Is there any feature that you think should be added to the app? Should be removed? Why?
How do you feel about that?

The next layer would be Structure: Interaction design and Information Architecture.
Which interaction makes you happy? Makes you upset? Why?
What about the structure of the information? If you think it’s confusing, why? How would you improve that?
How do you feel about that?

After structure, you’d analyze the Skeleton: Navigation Design, Information Design, and Interface design. Basically it’s about how you move (navigate) between screens and how they lay things out.
Is it easy to see the hierarchy of the elements on screen? Are they grouped well? Did it hard to find which element was the most important one? Why?
How do you feel about that?

The last layer would be the Surface. It’s the visual design.
You can start with colors: what’s the primary color? What colors do they use? Are they in harmony? Is it look good?
The icons, do they look beautiful you want to lick them? Or they’re terrible enough to give you a nightmare? Why?
What about the background? The texture? Does it look good? Feel good? Why?
How do you feel about that?

The key is to keep asking why, and why, and “How do you feel about that?”. Avoid the “it’s just bad.”
If you’re getting better in dissecting your experience, you’ll get better as well in designing a good User Experience, you can imagine and express the kind of experience that you want the users to have, and you can translate that into a design that can be executed by the engineers and the visual designers.

Let me know how it goes!

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