mash ups

Disruption versus Usability: has UXD become TOO good?

Mulling over the various excellent posts springing up on why there isn’t more great work in the digital space it struck me that one area rarely discussed is the fundamentally different definitions of what constitutes “great”.

Traditional agencies are instinctively drawn to disruptive work-work that stops the consumer in their tracks and forces them to pay attention. Digital specialists on the other hand are focussed on a smooth and seamless user experience. Ideas that disrupt this experience risk increasing bounce rates from a site for designers working to the 10 second stay-or-go “rule” . This tension between disruption and usability is so profound it’s hardly surprising that we struggle to find a common understanding of what great looks like, much less deliver it.

Traditional agencies in the digital space (and indeed traditional digital agencies) are easily seduced by the power of Flash and the wonders of animation; we want attention and spectacle but what happens next? Why should the user stay, what are we asking them to do and where should they go next?  The campaign microsite is perhaps the prime expression of this tendency-as Iain Tate puts it, impressively punchily, in Campaign:

“No one cares about your bloody microsite. In 2009 the flashy high production value microsite is finally starting to feel irrelevant. Sites that seem to do everything, but deliver nothing.”