There are plenty of examples of bad ux. Sometimes it accounts for a significant proportion of the entire interaction and sometimes it's a small but glaringly obvious detail that should be obvious to anyone.

Every now and then, there's an element of bad ux from a company that should know better.

So how does this happen, and how could it have been avoided?

The thing that concerns me is that even when there's clearly a decent budget and a reputation at stake, these things still get through the net and the users little bucket of goodwill gets somewhat emptier.

Is there not a process that is a bad ux catch-all? Or is user experience essentially a case of doing the best we can but knowing that we not infallible?

I like metaphors: So For example, if you consider different processes to be like fisherman's nets and fish to be the bits of bad ux. The nets can be widespread but with large holes, or they can be smaller but very finely meshed so as not to let even the smallest fish through. What are the combination of processes that cast the nets in such a way to be both broad enough and finely meshed enough not to allow any bad ux through at any point?

I have a suspicion that part of the answer maybe something like for a company to be prepared to spend at least 20% of a total annual budget on the CX of which UX is a part of that, instead of the measly sums that some companies spend, but I'd like to see what drops out of asking this question.

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    I've voted to close this question, as I think it's too broad to be answered usefully and could garner a lot of 'opinion' responses. Maybe it would be better to ask a question about a specific quality system or methodology? – Jimmy Breck-McKye Dec 26 '12 at 0:57
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    Well, the obvious answer is to hire a great UX consultant. To find one, I'd go to a site where lots of UX professionals hang out, preferably one that offers an easy way to rank them all, and I'd take the one with the highest... Oh, I see what you did there! – Vitaly Mijiritsky Dec 26 '12 at 6:03
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    @Roger I think you want the equivalent of a software test engineer, but for UX. Are you familiar with software testing (in broad terms)? Software testing happens all the time (i.e. it's not limited to the QA team/phase), so perhaps a "UI Designer in Test" could be a future specialization. – CJF Dec 26 '12 at 10:01
  • @CJFranken hmm, I rather like that idea of a ux specialist role equivalent to the software tester and QA roles, which otherwise typically tend to concentrate on functional and tangible aspects of a product or service. I think this idea has wings. Thank you. – Roger Attrill Dec 26 '12 at 10:17
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    I'm voting that this is a useful question: if only to make people aware of why hiring you to do UX - might not actually result in good UX... – PhillipW Dec 26 '12 at 12:45

This is exactly what Kim Goodwin is talking about in her UX Leadership lectures and articles. In her interpretation of the term, UX Leadership is about educating the people around us about good UX, setting an example and serving as mentors and UX evangelists. In short, you do it through education. The rest will follow.

  • Injecting the ux gene into the DNA of the whole company could indeed be the game changer that affects the ux of the product or service at every possibly level. How about we don't just say let's put 20% of the budget towards CX, but instead take the stand that 100% of the budget is about the CX. Whole company follow through. Yeah, that could be an awesome enough environment to stop any chink of bad ux from seeing the light of day. – Roger Attrill Dec 26 '12 at 15:42

I'm pretty sure there isn't one answer to this, but in larger organizations, bad UX happens because there are competing objectives, departments, budgets and egos that often win.

As for process, lots of organizations still use rather antiquated software development processes as well.

Oh, as to how to avoid bad UX, make sure the project has a UX focus. Lots of them don't.

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    I noticed that there was an earlier question on how to integrate UX and user centered design with the popular Agile software development process, if anyone is interested: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/4977/… – CJF Dec 26 '12 at 8:47

This is really a management question, and the answer is to have a good QA departement that's empowered (it could be only a single person) and involved early in the process.

It doesn't matter what you call that force (e.g "QA department") as long as there's someone that can come in early in the process and be heard and say simple things like "that's simple enough" or "I don't understand this" or "this doesn't make sense to me because..."

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    I disagree that QA is the key solution. Partly because by the time QA is looking at it, it's really too late to think holistically about UX. But I can see an argument for at least a better QA process...which can be thought of something the entire org does. Ideally, UX would be taken care of by some form of UX QA well before the QA team itself is involved. – DA01 Dec 26 '12 at 4:01
  • @DA01 It depends on the process or method of development. In a prototyping/agile/extreme kind of process, when things are malleable and the upfront design isn't cast in concrete, QA (or marketing or whomever) can effect the design. – obelia Dec 26 '12 at 19:11
  • I agree. In an agile process, I tend to find QA is part of the overall process, rather than a department/stage as it is in most waterfall processes. – DA01 Dec 26 '12 at 19:21

I have a suspicion that part of the answer maybe something like for a company to be prepared to spend at least 20% of a total annual budget on the CX of which UX is a part of that, instead of the measly sums that some companies spend, but I'd like to see what drops out of asking this question.

I also think having someone in an organisation with some clout looking after "Customer Experience" (CX) is the answer. I think we're pretty good at thinking about 'micro level UX' - ie designing an individual screen. However where things go wrong is the 'high level UX' - so, if for instance you run a high street store, that there is proper integration between the various ways that customers can interact with you ( Website / App / Physical Store / In Store Electronic Ordering, etc )

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    When talking of 'high level UX' or 'Customer UX' I like to also bring up 'service design': en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service_design – DA01 Dec 26 '12 at 16:13
  • Is there any substantial difference between Customer Experience and Service Design DA ? – PhillipW Dec 31 '12 at 18:19
  • I'm not sure. I guess the main difference might be that Service Design is a field of study with degreed programs, where people then end up working improving Customer Experience in organizations. – DA01 Dec 31 '12 at 18:24
  • Thanks DA. I hadn't come across Service Design as formal area before. – PhillipW Dec 31 '12 at 21:35

One way to avoid bad ux is to incorporate a heuristic evaluation into the project plan.

For larger projects where bad practice can creep in due to distributed teams or other factors, establishing an expert review stage can help flag issues that violate known best practice.

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