Is UX killing creativity?
UX design is one of the hottest IT jobs today. In the United States alone, there were around 150,000 UX-related jobs by the end of 2013 (Unicorn Institute).
UX design delivers consumers’ expectations and minimises ‘the unexpected’. So UX is all about creating a seamless user experience.
But then wouldn’t all websites or apps end up looking sort of similar? – Simple, minimalist and easy-to-navigate.
You can’t call anything creative unless it works.
The common problem with UX design is that it tends to take up well-established design patterns that already exist. Why? One of the reasons lies in user testing. Most people are so used to a particular type of interface that it is hard to get out of ‘the familiar’ (jonnyholland.org).
After all, people function within a pattern. So should UX designers stop listening to users to save innovation?
Gov.uk was the winner of the ‘’Design of the Year’’ last year (the BBC). Yes it’s super clean and minimal. But will this be the future of web design? I know it is a government website and therefore should be simple like that. But it looks like a simple result of user testing followed by wireframe.
If you ask a user ‘how can we improve this product for you?’, most people don’t have the answer.
Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’’(jonnyholland.org). Human beings are full of contradictions.
But this makes UX design more interesting, and definitely require a lot of creative and innovative ideas. UX design is an extremely profound field, relating psychology, industrial design, technology and other disciplines (Medium.com).
What make a creative UX design?
- Understanding the users
This should be where UX design’s strength lies. UX design needs to find out what users want that they don’t even realise yet.
While iPhone wasn’t a pure outcome of market research, it certainly changed the overall user expectation. UX designers dig deeper to understand the users. What UX designers do is to study user ‘motivations, mentality and behaviour’, while minimising the biases and differences.
- Experience sells
There is a limit to the amount of data that a human brain can process in one go. Otherwise an interface would look confusing and boring. This is where interactive user experience comes in to motivate our brains.
Today, human-computer interaction has to be emotionally-rich, engaging and efficient. It’s not only about usability, it is about designing an interface that tells an emotionally engaging story throughout the journey.
(Creative UX design example – blacknegative)
- ‘’Design rarely happens in isolation’’ (UX Magazine)
UX and Creative directors need to collaborate, drawing the connections between different poles. Creative design cannot survive without good structure and process. Good UX design doesn’t stand out without any creative input.
At the end of the day, they have the common goal – to add customer value to the product. Though the way they achieve the goal might be different, there must be a shared motivation.
Having said that, it is still hard to carry out ground-breaking design experiments when your client is solely interested in conversion and traffic.
But UX is an interdisciplinary aspects, and it involves as many skills as creative thinking, understanding user needs, good communication skills and so on.
What sells is powerful and unique experience that motivates users. Great UX is about finding the right balance efficiency, usability and innovation.
What do you think?
Appnova is a digital agency specializing in web design, UX, e-commerce, branding, digital marketing and social media.
Image: INLOSO, awwwards.com