UX/UI is not about “pushing pretty pixels”….
JANUARY 12, 2021
In my last blog (Consumers Demand Digital Convenience!) I wrote about my experience of buying a Tesla. The main idea is customers gravitate towards products and services that offer better and more convenient experiences, especially now.
I want to double click on that idea and show some examples of how User Experience (UX) can be truly disruptive by enabling greater engagement by non-experts to new technologies.
UX and UI are two related but separate disciplines. But for this post, they both represent how people interact and engage with technology.
Sometimes it’s important to remind ourselves about the true power of a good (UX/UI) interface.
Consider this, on May 24th, 1844 Samuel Morse sent four words down the first electrified network. “What hath God wrought?” This was the birth of a new age of communication. As amazing as this new technology was, it was extremely limited in scale and essentially unchanged for decades.
In 1876 a new kind of message was sent. “Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.” Words spoken by Alexander Bell on his invention the “electrical speak machine” (marketing was not Bell’s strength). Unlike Morse code, the adoption of this new telephone became a revolution in communications.
Why? Did Bell use different types of communication wires? No. Did Bell somehow speed up the transmission? Nope. What Bell really created was a completely new (UX/UI) interface! Rather than taking years learning dots and dashes, the telephone was amazingly easy and convenient to use. By the early 20th century 10% of all US homes had a telephone and not a telegraph.
Another quick example. In 1993 there were only 23 websites on the internet. But in just a couple of years, there were thousands of internet sites. A couple more years, millions. What changed? Answer: Netscape. Rather than using a horrendous hierarchical menu system that moved at the speed of continental drift, Netscape was fast and easy but the real power was that it allowed access to new technology by non-technical folks! Netscape was the dominant browser for almost 20 years until they lost the war to (you guessed it) and ever faster and easier (UX/UI) interface called Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to appreciate a slick UX/UI but the real proof of value is engagement at scale. If you pay attention you’ll notice that with every great new technology there is an interface that allows for mass adoption. Now consider all the new interfaces on the horizon via AR, VR, Quantum computing, etc.
Lastly, a more practical example common to today. One of our customers here at RD Global, a large insurance company, had issues with an outdated core application that experienced very poor customer engagement. Executive leadership reached out to RD Global and our technology experts went to work identifying areas of user frustration.
After addressing a mountain of technical issues RD Global created a completely new web and mobile interface with state of the art UX assets specifically designed for user convenience. What was the result? Customer engagement rates jumped as shown by a 900% increase in new app registrants per month! There are thousands of software development shops that push pretty pixels, but at RD Global we focus on developing applications that drive real user engagement.