The good, the bad, and the ugly: an analysis of my UX experiences

10:45. In 15 minutes, I’ll be attending the second lecture for my User Experience course. I roll over and open my laptop. By habit, I log into Canvas and mark all of my emails as read. They can wait.

10:47. I grab the sweatshirt that’s hanging off of my chair, throw it on, and get up to brush my teeth.

I should preface the next part of my schedule by making it clear that:

I am not a lazy person, I just have lazy tendencies.

I love my bed. I really do. I’ve noticed that remote learning has exploited this love-affair. In a pre-COVID world, if given the option, I would do anything from my bed. This was now my reality and I was loving every minute of it.

10:50. I look back and forth between my desk and my bed and pretend to be conflicted, but I already know what choice I’m going to make. I’ll feel guilty if I don’t at least consider using my desk. Predictably, I jump back in bed and bundle myself up.

10:55. I’m still groggy and the whole laying-down-in-my-bed thing isn’t helping but it’s syllabus week so I don’t think too much of it.

11:00. Class has officially begun. It doesn't take my professor very long to make it clear that he’s going to wait 5 minutes for the rest of the class to join us. He mentions this because:

“Today is the most important lecture you’ll ever attend. Well, if UX Design is your passion. I literally cannot overstate how important today’s material is if you want to become a competent UX designer. If you can learn everything we go over today and really learn it, you don’t need to show up to a single lecture for the rest of the semester. You’ll know everything you need to know.”

11:01. I am no longer groggy. I turn my camera off, grab my notebook, and set up my work station on my desk. I turn the camera back on and tune in.

So… what was THAT important? It was Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design. Some people call them the 10 usability heuristics, others call them the 10 commandments.

As a part of this course, we were later instructed to analyze our own personal experiences with UI’s and evaluate them according to these indsutry staple heuristics. Here is that analysis:

1. Visibility of System Status

The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.

The Good:

Instacart Progress Component

This is the “In Transit” screen. There are 5 total components for this status screen. At first, Instacart lets you know that your order has been received. Then, it tells you when the items you have ordered have been bagged. Here, they tell you if any items had to be replaced. Later, they tell you when the Grocery store employee has grabbed your items and is delivering your order. It even shows where they are in relation to you. Lastly, it lets you know that the entire process has been completed!

The Bad:

macOS failure to launch loading screen

The actual bare minimum. This is not a healthy embodiment of a “minimal aesthetic.” Do you want to guess what this means? Apparently, this means that your startup disk is no longer available or that it doesn’t contain a working macOS. If you only have access to the computer this happened to and want to get out of this screen, good luck. Maybe they should tell a user what’s going on and how to get to the macOS Recovery menu.

The Ugly:

macOS Application not responding error message

Thanks for nothing, asshole.

2. Match between system and the real world

The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.

The Good:

Susan Kare’s original Icon’s

There is literally no one in the history of graphic design as good at this as Susan Kare. She made images with less than 100 pixels so intuitive that any user, even young children, could log into their Macintosh and either instantly know what every icon did or be able to infer very easily. Her understanding of the everyday user’s psychology and her relationship with the engineer’s at Apple is a big reason why companies now encourage designer’s and engineer’s to work together.

The Bad:

Adobe Illustrator Icons

Oh boy. It’s too ironic that a company that controls such a large portion of the designing software industry has some of the worst icon legibility I’ve ever seen. Seriously, WTF does the icon on the top right mean? For most of the icons on Adobe Illustrator, you have to interact with them to know what they mean.

The Ugly:

Youtube Menu Options

Ideally, you won’t need captions on your icons. They should speak to a user without needing words but sometimes it is necessary AND that shouldn't be a flaw. This is a good example of when certain concepts are either too complex (i.e. live streaming) or not universal (i.e. fashion & beauty) enough to be recognized by every single person that might use your service.

3. User control and freedom

Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.

The Good:

Microsoft PowerPoint Undo/Redo

This isn’t your everyday undo/redo button. Wait… maybe it is… I mean, it has everything you need! Quickly accessible, revision history, and isn’t wiped clean by the save button!

The Bad:

LinkedIn Profinder Homepage

There is literally only one way to get back to the main LinkedIn network and it’s in hidden inside of the footer.

The Ugly:

Back Arrow on iOS 13

I’m pretty sure Apple has usability guidelines. I’m also pretty sure this defies them. It’s funny, but also a seriously annoying feature. What’s the point of having a back arrow if you can’t even press it?

Want to keep reading? There’s still a lot to go over! Click here for the second part.

This article was written as a submission for an assignment for Lucas Von Hollen’s LIS4351 User Experience Design course at the Florida State University (Fall 2020).

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