Common objections to UX design

Talking about Design often leads to questions, and in some cases, objections. But objections can be treated as opportunities and not threats. Think of an objection as an invitation to a more direct, honest conversation, where you can probe about what's driving someone else's point of view. Here are some questions I usually face and some ways to answer them.

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“It's just making things pretty, right?”

Researching user needs can impact the product at many levels: what features and functions are included, how content is written and presented, how support works, and how well it integrates with other touchpoints in the customer journey. Limiting the scope of responsibility and involvement that the designer has to merely the Web or interface level limits its potential impact and effectiveness. Many designers never even touch the Web. (They might go by more specialized titles like a content designer or design researcher, but they're practicing UX, too.) UX is a role that should span product development from start to finish. And every time you make significant product decisions.

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“Design is too expensive”

It's always less expensive to fix or improve the plan for a product before it's built instead of after. It costs much less to code the interface in a customer-acceptable way the first time than it does to introduce a poo UI in the field and then rework that UI in version two. In addition, a poor UI will increase support costs. You could therefore think of Design as a preventative investment to keep the costs of your product from getting out of control down the road. Ultimately, design work can be as expensive or as affordable as you're prepared to make it. It only takes a quick chat with a real user or showing a proposed design to a few people to quickly uncover in there's any significant misalignment between how the product is framed and how people are likely to use it.

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“That's [marketing's/engineering's/product management's] job”

In product development, many people are thinking about the product from various angles. Engineers think about how to write code that's efficient and reliable. Marketers think about how to engage the target market for the product. Quality assurance folks think about whether people can use the product to complete the intended use cases. Design is, in some respects, the glue that binds these considerations together. Ensuring that the experience of using the product is, from moment to moment, clear, fluid, and even a little bit delightful.

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“It adds too much time”

It's essential to be realistic that it might take some time to do Design well. Still, UX work doesn't have to add months. One benefit that Design can bring to your process is the ability to rapidly prototype, test with users, convey ideas efficiently, break down silos, and evolve the product design. Be optimistic but also realistic. The time you put in upfront is an investment that defrays other, more burdensome costs down the road.

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“But we already know what needs to be done”

Design tells you not just what's wrong but also why and how to fix it. It also allows you to validate that you got it right. Sometimes, things that seem pretty straightforward or that users may even have asked for explicitly really come from a more profound need. You can only discover that by getting out of the office and diving into understanding people's lives. And, in the long run, observing real people using your products (or their preferred alternatives) may teach the team some things they didn't know before.

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Additional reading