The best user experiences are invisible

The most seamless user experiences are often the least noticeable. They just work. You google something and it returns the right results. It's a variation of Clarke's 3rd law, instead of "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", it is: "Any sufficiently advanced user experience is invisible to the user."

This is the reason that projects include user personas and audience goals. The core objective of a website should be to allow users to accomplish the tasks they set out to accomplish in the most efficient way possible. Whether people are visiting to purchase, to request more information or to be entertained. A good user experience shouldn't get in the way of the user's tasks.

Now, there are times that you want the experience to be notable. That you want to communicate a little bit extra in your user interactions. In these cases an interface is designed to draw attention to itself. But, at these times the core experience still needs to be as seamless as possible. If you were to strip away the extras (the humorous responses etc) the core experience should be as close to invisible as possible.

So next time your deciding on whether to run unaffiliated network ads on your website, or whether to require a form before downloading a white paper—think to yourself, does this help or hinder my user's experience. Am I interrupting them on their tasks? Is there anyway to make this a more elegant process?

Written by Adam Harrell on April 27, 2009

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