1. Good usability is good enough without aesthetics

Myth 1 is a doozy… I’ve always been visually inclined, maybe it came from my parents, my mom was always good at painting and calligraphy. But one thing I’ve never understood is when UXers say “Visuals don’t matter” or put less emphasis on Visual Design than Interaction Design or Research. They are all serving a different role within the UX process.

Don Norman wrote a whole book on the emotional connection in design and the impact it has on people’s perception. Rarely, does the rest of the UX process deal with emotions. It’s not till you get into the visual part of the process that we begin to talk about the feeling of how the page looks or how the interaction feels. It’s not by accident, experiencing a site is an emotional thing.

These points don’t even get into the credibility factor that good visual (or lack thereof) creates when done properly. Stanford University did a credibility study and found that 46% of people base the credibility of a company solely on the aesthetics of a site. Great visual design can become a competitive advantage and a differentiator.

2. Skipping steps in the UX process doesn’t produce good work

Myth 2 is pretty hard for me to believe. I understand that when you’re learning the UX process you do the same process over and over and it may feel like you have to do every step for every project. But when you’re in a real-world environment, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll have the timetable to be able to go through every step for each individual project. At Blue Nile we rarely have the timeline to do that, only the larger projects get to go through the full process. We usually make smaller updates based on user feedback, iterating on current designs, or by testing.

Businesses can move pretty quickly, and sometimes time to do the full UX process just isn’t there. Good UXer’s know what steps they need to do and what steps they can pass by on a per-project basis.

3. Everyone needs to be able to use your design

The thing about myth 3 is that a tool within UX actually solves the problem. Personas address this issue of everyone using your design because you focus your design around a specific user. Not everyone is the target audience for your product and it’s not your goal to get everyone to use it. You should focus your time and effort on producing a product that works perfectly for your target user and if it does, even people outside your target will most likely be able to use it too.

Training yourself that everyone needs to be able to use your product is a great way to produce a product that doesn’t solve any issues very well. Each project you work on should have personas that you are trying to target. Empathising with those users is your goal so that you can understand what their wants and needs are for the task at hand.

4. If it works for someone else, it works for you

The 4th myth is pretty easy to understand and fairly straight forward. If something works for Amazon, it doesn’t necessarily work for your issue. Rarely do the use cases for the solutions line up. Just because the problem may be the same, it doesn’t mean that solution will fit your user base. You should do the competitive analysis when beginning a new project, but this does not mean you should directly implement what your competitors are doing.

I understand how people could construe a competitive analysis for directly comparing features across a site and then implementing whatever basically catches your company up in that project/page. But be very carefully when looking at another companies website, their demographic may be different than your target demo and therefore not be the right solution.

5. Business needs don’t impact UX design

I’m not even sure how this myth got started. It’s almost the opposite every time you work on a project. The business has a need and we produce the best product for the user based on the need of the business. The business is what is driving Blue Nile’s order of projects. However, some companies do this a little different, they allow UX to drive what needs to be improved.

This still doesn’t cut out the business, in the end they make the final call on if something will actually be developed or not. This is why presentations become so important in my eyes.