There is an incredible attraction to the bright, shiny object; to sizzle; to wowing and delighting your users; to making a splash in the marketplace. And there is definitely a place for that.
It is, however, a pretty high-stakes game. If you do it right, you might indeed achieve all those goals. If not, though, you might well fall flat on your face.
Now, here’s the rub … Not every user wants to be delighted or wowed, especially when they are simply trying to complete some basic task – buying something, looking up information, making a reservation, getting the balance on their bank account. Usually, they just want to get that task done, and without too much effort.
In that regard, boring can be a pretty good bet. Perhaps your interface doesn’t really need all those gizmos and gadgets and cool design trends you saw on those apps you and your friends were sharing the other day.
Here’s the question you need to ask yourself … Are my innovations helping the user complete their task, or are they simply getting in the way?
Two great ways to accomplish the former are 1) to give the user functionality they never had before, and 2) to make your UI as clear and simple as possible. Examples of the former abound – Uber, eBay, Amazon, Venmo, Tinder … Examples of the latter are not as obvious, but there are still plenty out there (Google is always my favorite). In fact, a lot of real winners manage to do both at the same time.
On the other hand, one great way to get in the user’s way is to design your site, app, whatever around those gizmos and gadgets and cool design trends just because you think they’re innovative in themselves. They’re not. True innovation comes from solving user problems and then just simply getting out of the way.
Joe is an interaction designer for the UK Government