Lost in translation


It is a common practice that the design process consumes plenty of time before product go-live. There are some methodologies that try to solve this issue like Lean UX, Agile UX or a mixture of both. Why do I mention this? Because the more time you spend on the project the more you become focused on details forgetting about a big picture. It is natural. Every designer wants their work to be perfect but…


Putting too much effort in details makes you lose the context. Even if a backlog is constructed and user stories defined, it is often not very helpful. It explains the world from a development point of view, rather than customer’s.

Once we were analyzing Airline mobile site (yes, you heard it right: mobile site. Yes, I am that old). And we got tons of requirements inherited from a desktop version. When we trimmed almost all of them we got a little scared, because there was not much left from the original set. But fortunately, we are able to support our design with the usage of user context. It might be obvious, but it is often forgotten during meetings. We focused mainly on a case where a passenger wants to perform crucial tasks at the airport with very limited time and resources.

Where? When? Why?

The UX designers (including me sometimes) support their work with statement “it is great for the user because…” and here you put a lot of pros, but it should be said that way: “it is great for the user in the context of <an activity in a defined place and time> beacuse…”. Personas and CJMs might be helpful, but let’s be honest, we do not always cope with large scaled projects. Sometimes UX phase consists of just a process refinement with 5-days budget or you consult a small part of the system where you don’t have enough time for extensive analysis.

There was a time when I advised to encourage user to transfer form online channel into the store during an online acquisition process. People looked at me like I was some kind of a dinosaur. But I reminded them of a context. In our case it was a mobile experience. Hence, the user might be in a shopping mall. If yes, then why not convince them to go to a store and let the shop assistant do the rest and even upsell some additional items. I think that it would give more chance of success than having user in online channel all the time:

  1. If we motivate a user to go to store: +1 point for us, we got them on our ground
  2. If the user is in store: +10 points for us, we got them exploring our products and the consultant might start a conversation
  3. If the user is involved in the conversation: +100 points for us, they usually tell the consultant why they are here, so we know the motivation, the context and we know what to sell and what is more how to sell it. We actually have a real contact with a customer

 And now for something completely different

So the more you go into details the more attractive things are to introduce to your design but than ask yourself: Why am I building this experience anyway? In 90% cases you are here to improve sales and to reduce the acquisition process time. Stick to the point. Don’t try to interrupt the flow with unnecessary info.

How many times have you come across the phrase: “let’s put this component here”. After it line there goes a supporting statement like: “it can boost sales” or “people tend to look for it” or “it might be useful for a user”. Yes, I agree with most of them but the context here is crucial. Imagine you present a person the benefits of free delivery before the products themselves. The user would be like: “That’s great! Wha are you offering anyway?”. So the free delivery should be a part of browsing or even better a part of a “add to cart” decision rather than opening statement for you eshop. How do you think?

All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

The hardest part is to put the certain info in a proper place and time. Don’t panic! Nobody did it correct for the first time. I can even say that nobody ever did it perfectly. Test it and fail and fail again until your conversion rate is getting higher :)

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By Luke