What is user experience design?

Paul Boag

The Boagworld Show is back and in this first episode of season 13 we ask a simple question – what is user experience design?

Skip to the discussion or this week’s links.

This episode of the Boagworld show is sponsored by Media Temple and Harvest. Please support the show by checking them out.

Paul: Hello and welcome to Boagworld .Com the podcast for all those involved in designing, developing and running websites on a daily basis.We’re back! Season 13! Hello!

Marcus: Unlucky for some.

Paul: Yes, and so obviously being unlikely for us and we have Leigh joining us.

Leigh: Thanks Paul.

Paul: That’s all right.

Marcus: Couldn’t get anyone else this week apparently?

Leigh: Exactly.

Paul: Well yes. You see I have to confess utterly and completely that you are the fall-back guy. At the beginning of last week I went “Oh Shit, we’re supposed to be doing a pod cast this week so we are already a week late as it is, we should have started last week and we are only starting this week. So I have already messed up, and then of course I was going “Oh, who am I going to get on the show? Oh Leigh is a whore and he will do it.” And that is about it.

Leigh: Not that somebody dropped out or anything like that – you were just disorganised.

Paul: I was utterly disorganised. I think it’s because I had that last minute holiday where I went off to California. I thought I would just drop that in randomly.

Marcus: I went to Cornwall last week. And it was lovely.

Paul: Good. I am very pleased for you.

Marcus: I have really struggled today getting back into the swing of things.

Paul: I weep for you Marcus.

Leigh: I like the fact that you had an unexpected holiday to California.

Paul: I know right? That’s the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle I lead now. You want to know why? Should I bore you with why? I will do. This is what happened.

I had a client, who had asked me to go out to do some work in California. I didn’t know whether I particularly wanted to do it, so I priced it in a way that would allow James and Cath to come along to. And it was all set up ready to go and then they contacted me and said “Oh we’ve got a problem. We need to move it back a bit, move it back to October from August.” And I said “Oh yes that’s fine – you do have to pay the difference though because the flights and accommodation are non-refundable.” “Yes, yes”. They’ve got loads of money. They were all ready to go for me to go in October and then they rang up and said we are cancelling the project completely. “Oh” I said. And so it was like, we might as well go on the first trip anyway. And so we did we found out on the Thursday and we flew out on the Saturday. So I had two weeks in California paid for the free buy a client. Thank you Mr Client.

Leigh: Excellent.

Marcus: Never happens to me. When I used to work in corporate land, there were people who were on three months’ notice. And this happened to a few people. Basically they had new jobs in other places and they were told that they couldn’t carry on for their three months in the office, so they had to spend all of summer in the garden being paid.

Leigh: Gardening leave.

Marcus: These things never happen to me. Ever

Paul: Ahh. Hang on Marcus, you got to spend years jetting around the world as a popstar.

Marcus: Yes, I didn’t really appreciate it at the time. I was too young and too green. And no one’s going to have me now are they?

Paul: It is quite funny. Very unusually three of us have got web cams on so we can actually see each other the recording. And all I am seeing is just this mass of grey hair. That’s all it is. We’re just all so old.

Leigh: I thought you were talking about just me. But you actually mean Marcus as well.

Paul: Yes. You do have the best grey to black ratio, Leigh I have to say.

Marcus: Oh is it totally grey basically? But yes I am quite grey to. It’s true. But at least I have got lots of it.

Leigh: All I can see is your reflection, Paul. It’s reflecting off your head.

Paul: Leigh, the truth is if I grew my hair it would be as long as yours. You are just as receding as I am.

Marcus: Comb-over Leigh?

Leigh: Comb-forward.

Paul: This must be really boring for people that can’t see the video.

Marcus: Consider yourselves lucky.

Paul: Yes, three old men comparing bald patches. Are you going bald the very top as well?

Leigh: No.

Marcus: He lies.

Leigh: Not that I’m aware of, put it that way.

Paul: You can’t see the back of your own head?

Leigh: No, everyone’s too polite.

Paul: Sorry we are a bit late this week. We are a week late, actually. Bit late this season. Blame it on Marcus having a holiday, and not being constantly on-call when I have forgotten to do something. It’s disgraceful of you Marcus.

Marcus: Ah well, I try. But I’m not hundred percent available all the time.

Paul: Ah I’m disappointed in you. Anyway, it’s going to be a good season. We are going to be looking at user experience design this season. And I’ve written all the different episodes on what I want to do in each episode. And then I’ve written my ideal guest against each episode. So if Leigh is on the show again this season, you know I failed to get my ideal guest.

Marcus: Oh that’s harsh. See, Leigh is the ideal guest this week. Oh no hang on. We’ve already said he isn’t.

Paul: That’s a good attempt Marcus, but there is no covering up the fact.

Leigh: What you’re really trying to say, is that I could actually do any week because my knowledge is so broad.

Paul: Yes you are so flexible.

Leigh: And then I can fill in for any week.

Paul: Although to be fair, if there ever was a subject where you are an expert, it is user experience design.

Leigh: I am quite surprised you doing an entire season on it. What if we go through all of it today?

Paul: I thought it was just drawing pictures?

Leigh: No, no, no.

Paul: Do you want to know what’s coming up?

Marcus: How have you managed to split this into 15 episodes?

Paul: No, it’s a short season which helps. Partly because I have started late, but there is only 11 episodes this season. Today we are going to look at what is UX. next week we are going to look at ‘Building a business case for UX’ and that’s going to have Jared Spool. He is confirmed. Then we’re going to do an episode on ‘Starting with the small screen’, so UX for mobile. Then we’re going to look at a running a UX workshop. We’re going to look at lean UX, which apparently is a thing. We’ve got one on use of research another one about designing for the gaps which are the gaps between moving from a mobile device to a computer and back-and-forth. I’ve got an episode on ‘The best interface is no interface’, the post-UI user experience. We’ve got one on employee user experience. On how do you design a good user experience for your employees using things like intranet and Enterprise software? We’ve got ‘UX as a marketing tool’ then ‘How to make a user experience culture, organisation-wide’.

Marcus: OK.

Paul: Does that meet with your approval?

Marcus: Yes, we’ll probably cover all of those today, but it sounds good.

Leigh: Touch on them, maybe.

Paul: This is the broad, all-encompassing, this is giving the context for the rest of the season. Which is obviously why we have Leigh on the show being the broad generalist with expertise in everything.

Marcus: There we go. Can we talk about Apple’s new stuff yet?

Paul: Yes you can if you want. What you want to say about it?

Marcus: I was going to say have you got a Pro IPad yet Paul?

Paul: No because they’re not out until November.

Marcus: Really?

Leigh: Haven’t you got an alpha or beta version?

Paul: I am running the beta version of the watch software. The one with the critical bug in that they weren’t releasing because it was critically buggy.

Leigh: I thought you broke your watch?

Paul: I did. But it still kind of works. It’s got a big crack in it.

Leigh: It wasn’t completely smashed then, you can still use it.

Paul: So yes, I’ve already pre-ordered my iPhone 6S. Then next month I will be getting the new Apple TV, and then the month after it will be the iPad Pro.

Marcus: So you are going to get one then? I can’t decide whether to get one or not. Well obviously I want to get one, but whether there’s any point.

Leigh: Apple TV? Or iPad Pro?

Marcus: iPad Pro. I really like my iPad mini. And there is a new one of these out. So I’m wondering whether to get one of those instead. I am definitely getting an iPhone 6S.

Paul: The reason that I am getting the iPad Pro is because I watch a lot of video on it, because I can never get near the TV in our house.

Marcus: Isn’t it going to be a big heavy, funky thing?

Paul: I confess I am a little torn but I decided to go for it because I just have to buy everything I’m told to.

Marcus: Fair enough.

Leigh: I love seeing the new products and thinking “Paul’s go to buy that now…and that…and that.” It’s going to cost him a fortune.


Paul: So Leigh, are you buying any of it?

Leigh: I might buy an Apple TV but I’m not sure why. Probably don’t really need it because I have so many ways to watch Netflix it’s a bit silly really. And actually Netflix takes up enough of my life as it is, so I don’t need new ways to watch Netflix. But I don’t know what else does.

Marcus: It’s got a pen.

Leigh: Know that the iPad – it’s got a pencil.

Paul: They couldn’t call it a stylus, because Steve Jobs made it very clear that styluses with the devil’s work.

Leigh: It is definitely a stylus. That was then, this is now. They are allowed to rethink things.

Paul: Yes, the guy is dead.

Marcus: Or is he?

Paul: Oh don’t start that.

Leigh: And its pressure sensitive isn’t it?

Paul: I imagine if you have any artistic ability whatsoever, it will be really nice. But as I don’t I am more interested in the full-size keyboard.

Marcus: I still can’t decide whether Evernote or paper is the right thing. So to have something I could actually write on, that kind of makes possible sense. I don’t know.

Leigh: It was the dream of the first iPad. I remember trying to write on it with my finger. Maybe that was the thing though, maybe the finger was too fat and took up too much space trying to write? I would be using loads of different apps which did clever things to protect your wrist and put your writing in and make it wraparound, and all kind of different solutions. They were never quite as good as real paper.

Paul: Will neither is having a good stylus. It’s not as good as real paper. It sits too easy, you don’t have the friction that you get on real paper. It will be interesting to see whether they’ve solved that.

Leigh: But writing is too damn slow. That’s the problem with anything. It takes three times as long to form letter as pressing a key.

Paul: Exactly. The thing that I’m most pleased about, with both the iPad Pro and iPad air, with iOS nine you can do split screen. You can have two apps running side-by-side. Which is useful, but the real reason I am chuffed about it is because now it forces all app developers to go through the hell of responsive design too. So I am pleased about that.

Leigh: That’s what I like about Windows 10. You can do the same on there, with the widths and the apps and that is quite useful.

Paul: Do you have a Windows tablet then?

Leigh: I bought a shitty cheap thing for about £80 just to have a fiddle about with it. And it is really rather good. I love it. I have used it tons. But anyway we are talking about Apple products, stop it. I keep listening to podcasts and people talking about Apple products and I just think “Shut up!”

Paul: Well I am just about to talk about Windows 10 products. You started on it and then close the conversation down.

Leigh: We can talk about Windows 10. I have just installed Windows 10 and it’s really good. I really, really like it.

Paul: My son went let me install it on his gaming computer, because apparently it doesn’t work with half his games yet. So I haven’t yet played with it.

Leigh: Yes. My son installed it and then rapidly uninstalled it because steam wasn’t working properly, which is the end of the world.

Marcus: He couldn’t order any weapons online probably.

Paul: Exactly. Most distressing when you can’t order your new form online. Listening to my son sometimes I can’t help but sit there and think I never suspected these words to be coming out the mouth of my 12-year-old son. It just disturbs me on so many levels.

Marcus: Wait till he gets to be about 16 or so.

Paul: You expected from a 16-year-old, but a 12-year-old talking about how to make a nuclear bomb is not the kind of conversation you expect. Or the best way to decapitate a zombie.

Leigh: The amount of intimate details about weaponry is quite frightening.

Paul: I know.

Leigh: It’s like an encyclopaedia of calibres and actions of different weapons. And I am like “Your head is full of this! How did it happen? You weren’t even allowed a toy gun!”

Paul: That’s the problem. I think that’s where we all made this mistake. If we had given them guns early on, real guns as well, then they will have lost interest by now.

Leigh: Or killed themselves.

Paul: Perhaps the Americans have got it right.

Leigh: My friends weren’t allowed guns but to be spent our entire youth making guns out of pieces of wood.

Paul: I know. My dad was telling the story last night when we were at dinner. He was talking about how, when he was a little kid about parents – my grandad was a strict Pentecostal minister, said there was no way he was allowed guns as a little kid. And yet they always forced him to have birthday parties which he used to hate because they were just an opportunity to invite people round from the church as well as all his friends from school. So he made the most of the incident by telling all his friends he wanted guns for his birthday. So all of these people, he had about six different guns arrive at his birthday party and his parents can do anything about it. Because they arranged the party. Anyway that wasn’t that funny, it was funnier when he told it.

Anyway, shall we talk about the sponsor? Going from one subject to the other, we ought to move the show forward.

We’ve got a new sponsor. I think these guys are sponsoring for the whole season. That’s how awesome they are, let me just check. I want to know. Obviously because if they are not doing a whole season then I won’t big them up as much. No they are. It’s good. Yay! Yay for these sponsors!

This is Media Temple. If you haven’t heard of Media Temple then you can’t be a web designer really, I think there was some kind of test that says you can’t be exposed to anything in the web design world without coming across Media Temple. They are by far the most popular hosting platform for designers and developers and creative, digital hipster type people. What you think a hosting environment is a hosting environment but they have this single grid account that can host everything from your own portfolio site up to hundreds of different client sites. It’s really flexible. It’s got hundreds of servers that essentially work together to ensure you stay online no matter what the load, so if one of your clients suddenly has a spike it should be able to deal with it without a problem. There are loads of hosting options to and I’m sure we will get into those over the coming weeks. They have got integrated support with things like Google apps for those of you who are unfortunate enough to provide email to your clients which I just think must be hell on earth dealing with all of that. They even offer virtual private servers if you need them, like what I have for Boagworld because I am hosted with them. I say I have, Ian looks after it as he would like me to attest to especially after I deleted half my database last week.

Marcus: How did you do that Paul?

Paul: Just fiddling, would be the best way of wording it.

Marcus: And what lessons have we learnt from that?

Paul: That I can make things better as long as I have Ian’s help to do it.

Marcus: No that is not the lesson.

Paul: The lesson is to leave the server alone and let Ian do it.

Marcus: That’s correct.

Leigh: Fiddle on your own development copy.

Paul: What? What’s a development copy? What’s one of those?

Leigh: One that’s not live Paul. One that you cannot break.

Paul: Anyway. You can get private servers and all that kind of good stuff and I can attest that they do very good emergency support when you delete every podcast episode you’ve ever produced.

You’ve properly heard of Media Temple before, you don’t need me to tell you anymore but what you can do is do me a favour. You can show Media Temple that you appreciate the Boagworld podcast by using our promo code when you inevitably sign up, because you will. There is no getting around it, eventually it will happen. If you use our promo code ‘Boag’ you will get 25% of your web hosting, which has to be a good deal. So you just go to boagworld.com/mediatemple and enter the promo code upon sign up. Then you shall be done and all will be good with the world.

Marcus: Super.

Leigh: You need to put some shopping channel music under that bit.


Marcus: I am not sure what that was Leigh.

Paul: That sounded almost a bit like the gallery off of Morph?

Leigh: It was Take Hart.

Marcus: Vision On.

Leigh: Vision On, that was the original yes. It moved to the Deerhunter theme after a while.

Paul: This means nothing to non-English people.

[More whistling]

Paul: Talking of quintessential English I hope both of you watched the first Doctor Who episode on Saturday?

Marcus: No I don’t watch it.

Leigh: I didn’t know it was starting again to be honest.

Marcus: I never watched it since Tom Baker I don’t think.

Paul: I’m going to have to get some proper people on this show because this isn’t good enough.

Leigh: I did watch it religiously but I kept missing it on a Saturday night. I don’t know why, something changed in my life.

Paul: It’s the only thing anything our family watches on live TV any more.

Leigh: Yes I don’t know why I stopped.

Marcus: I go out on Saturday night, so there.

Paul: You are just an embarrassment. Going out and having a life rather than committing yourself to more important pursuits.

What is user experience design?

Paul: Right, this week. We are 23 minutes in and we’ve finally got to the discussion point. This is what happens when we have Leigh on the show. We are discussing ‘What is UX?’ As is always the way I’ve been sent a load of questions which we are going to work through, because I announced the topic as being ‘What is UX?’, so we’ve got some questions around that back and I think it could prove quite interesting.

First question is what is the difference between user experience design and user interface design? And it’s really interesting because you see a lot of job descriptions that say UX/UI designer which kind of implies they are the same thing. Leigh what do you think? I have got very strong opinions on this.

Leigh: Well I still see people all the time on Twitter saying “it’s just graphic design, the whole UX thing”. But for me UI design is just one facet of the whole thing. It’s just one part, is just one cog in the machine.

Paul: What is the rest of it? What would you include?

Marcus: Any human interaction with anything. That’s user experience design.

Leigh: No, it’s more than that. It’s graphic design, its content language, its interaction design, its accessibility, performance, speed the page, speed of the server even, it’s all of it. It’s how good your back end fulfilment system is.

Marcus: It’s a human interaction with something though, surely? That’s the definition? It doesn’t matter how fast your server is if no one is using it.

Leigh: But that’s part of the human interaction. If it’s really slow the interaction is spoilt and you don’t want to use it.

Marcus: We are agreeing. That’s the definition. It’s a human interaction.

Toilet flushes. You know you get the modern ones?


It’s relevant! You know you get the toilet flushes on the top of a modern toilet that’s got a round bit with the little button inside the big round button, what does that mean? I have no idea which one to press.

Leigh: I never press it.

Marcus: Whether you should press the big one on its own, or the little one with the big one. That is bad UX.

Paul: It is. I couldn’t agree with you more. I hate my toilet, because I don’t understand how to use it. I don’t know whether the small button does a short flush or whether the big button does a short flush or whether you have to press both buttons to do a long flush. It’s confusing.

Leigh: Press both!

Paul: I press both all the time because I don’t know what to do.

Leigh: I just press the big one and hold it down for longer. That’s a long flush is it?

Marcus: This is bad UX.

Leigh: This is interaction design though.

Marcus: Its user experience.

Leigh: The whole thing is the user experience, but the interaction is the problem. Perhaps the labelling is wrong, it could actually tell you, it could add an icon which would make it obvious.

Marcus: But I’ve been in hotel rooms where on the back wall there is a separate small button and a separate big button. Genius. So simple.

Paul: But you see now, I am not convinced that what you’ve just described this user experience design Marcus.

Marcus: Yes it is.

Paul: You can’t just go yes it is and ruin my logic! Because, interaction design is a separate discipline to user experience design, or is it? And also what’s the difference between customer service design and user experience design? Is user experience only when you interact with something digital? Or does it include flushes?

Marcus: Yes of course it does.

Paul: So what makes you a user and what makes you and interact or consumer?

Marcus: Explain to me what that means

Paul: For example, here is a real life example. In creating a great user experience for, let’s pick one of our clients is a very old client but I will pick them anyway because it’s an e-commerce one so it makes it easier. I’ll pick WFF, they sell frozen ready meals. A user interface designer designs their website, correct?

Marcus: Yes.

Paul: Right. They care about the website. Now a user experience designer has a broader remit than that. They care about all aspects of the user experience, for example they would care about the emails being sent backwards and forwards that confirm the order and that kind of thing. They would care about the copywriting, they would care about lots of different aspects of the user’s interaction. But here is the question. Do they care about the telephone support that that customer has? Because that is customer service design. Isn’t it?

Marcus: It’s all part of user experience though isn’t it?

Paul: Well I don’t know. The user when they call a call centre are they a customer?

Leigh: They aren’t a customer until they bought something. They are a potential customer for a long time. In which case, yes, they are taking part in the user experience of the company before they have committed to buying something. I am not sure if that was relevant in any way.

Paul: Yes. But I don’t think customer service would describe themselves in that way. What I am saying is that it’s quite blurry isn’t it? The edges? Where the user experience starts and stops?

Marcus: Will I think terms like customer service design are misleading and unnecessary.

Paul: But they predate user experience.

Leigh: Aren’t they just terms which were around before the buzzword UX popped up on trying to take over everything?

Marcus: Maybe I am being too literal with the term user experience because user experience to me literally means a human being interacting with anything.

Paul: Well no, because a user are not always users. Well perhaps we are. Because you are talking a person interacting with anything. The user experience design if you are going to be picky about it and stick with the terminology, is the experience of a user.

Marcus: When they are interacting with something.

Paul: Yes but the point is, no because some experiences are passive. And also we are not always a user. A user implies interacting with, user is a term you use a digital is it not, some kind of digital interaction?

Marcus: You can certainly call yourself a user when you use the toilet. If I go back to my original example.

Leigh: That’s a brilliant example. Let’s keep it going all season. The toilet is important and actually the best toilet would be one without an interface at all. It knows what you have done and it flushes appropriately. Do you remember when you first saw a flushing toilet that itself with a passive infrared detector? Like a urinal? You walked away and it flushed.

Paul: So what we need is something that measures the additional volume?

Leigh: And the density?

Paul: This is skipping to the episode about no interface is the best interface.

Leigh: Yes I know it is, yes. Talk about toilets I hope will pop up in that one.

Paul: With this is an interesting one because I’ve taken to calling myself a user experience consultant. I toyed with going user experience architect because that sounds really poncey. But it is interesting because to begin with I wanted to call myself a user experience designer myself as. But because I don’t open photo shop any more I didn’t feel I could do that and that people would misunderstand it. But actually, I think 90% of what I do is what I would class as user experience design. So it includes when I’m doing stuff helping example, organisations set policies and procedures that shapes the users experience because it impacts the user experience. When I helped write a digital strategy that impacts the users experience. But, and I can see you nodding along Marcus, there is a point where I would stop. Maybe that’s just because of a limitation in my own experience knowledge, but if they had a physical store for example, I wouldn’t start trying to design the experience in that store.

Marcus: Even though I said that I think the term user experience applies to any human interaction, there are certain specialisms that we all have that we can only apply our knowledge to and in this particular case is generally website design and digital design. But I think all three of us are user experience designers but I can’t call myself that the same reasons you just described. But I am. All the work that I do which isn’t sales is part of deciding on what a user experience is. So that’s designing the user experience.

Leigh: Yes, it’s just that we’ve got the word designer has just become, because of the web context, it makes you think of a designer in photo shop. Whereas design is bigger than what happens in photo shop. There isn’t another word for it although architect is a brave choice.

Paul: I just wanted the word architect so that I could imagine myself as being like the architect from the Matrix, sitting there saying long complicated sentences and getting paid a lot of money for it. Which I thought was pretty applicable. So it’s fair to say that we are in agreement.

The second question is can one person design the user experience? I think it’s fair to say the answer is no.

Leigh: Why not?

Marcus: It depends the experience is.

Leigh: One person can direct an entire movie, totally different aspects so I don’t know why not?

Paul: Yes but they don’t produce the entire movie themselves.

Marcus: No they don’t.

Leigh: They coordinate the whole thing. They design the whole thing. They design the experience of the whole thing.

Marcus: They wouldn’t have written the script etc.

Leigh: No, but they would have looked at the script in massive detail asked for rewrites and if it wasn’t right, they would have taken action to get it resolved with another writer.

Paul: They don’t refer to themselves as designers, they call themselves directors and producers. User experience director! That’s what I am!

Leigh: I think they are better words. Or a producer that’s a better word than designer.

Marcus: Well User Experience Director, that’s a new term isn’t it? That’s seen as the top man in an organisation.

Paul: And I quite like that. I wrote about this recently, but I’ve kind of come round to when I wrote Digital Adaptation I pushed for having a chief digital officer. But actually I think what that actually what you want is a chief experience officer. But that is the CEO so you can’t have that.

Leigh: And calling yourself a director if you’re not a director of a company’s awkward. All these terms.

Paul: But if you are American, everyone is a director or vice president. I’m going to be the vice president of user experience in a consultancy of one, by myself. I wasn’t good enough to be the president even though I am the only employee.

Leigh: Was it Jeremy Keith that’s got an amazing pretend title?

Paul: He changes his title regularly. But the point is that to call yourself a user experience designer, you have to have quite a lot of balls because I don’t think any one person design is a whole experience. It’s a collaboration team sport is it not?

Leigh: I guess it depends on how big the organisation or experience is.

Paul: Why are you grinning Marcus?

Marcus: Jeremy’s current title it is Full Stack Digital Product UX Designer.


Leigh: Get them all in there.

Marcus: He is so taking the piss. Brilliant.

Leigh: If it’s like a company the size of Amazon, one person trying to coordinate everything is perhaps a bit of tall order. But if you are a little company selling two or three products you might be able to design the entire experience.

Paul: So let’s go through on a bigger company because another question is who is involved in user experience design and how? So you’ve got user interface designers, you’ve got content people, you’ve got developers in terms of performance and that kind of thing. You’ve got even SEO people because that’s part of the experience. People start at Google. Don’t screw your face up Leigh.

Leigh: I was going to say they are spoiling the experience because they are cluttering it all up. I was just thinking of all that JavaScript.

Paul: The web world in no way associates with Leigh’s position.

Leigh: I was just thinking of all the extraneous JavaScript code and tracking code that gets shoved into pages spoiling performance.

Paul: Oh that brings us on to add blockers in mobile Safari now. That’s a whole conversation. We will do that another time. Then who else have we got? My brain has just gone blank.

Marcus: Most important people I would argue, if we’re talking about websites and the like, are the people that work for the company. The marketers, the bosses of that project who are setting objectives, who are making decisions about audiences and that kind of stuff.

Paul: Yes, senior executives and so it goes on.


Oh my doorbell has just gone. I am going to have to answer that guys really sorry. You carry on talking I will be quick.

Marcus: Hello Leigh. This is a bit weird.

Leigh: Hello Marcus. You need some more music for this bit.

Paul: I wonder what it is? Maybe he’s getting a delivery of something expensive?

Leigh: It’s a toy.

Marcus: He’s going to have to hide the big box. New toy Paul?

Paul: No it wasn’t a new toy. If you want to know it’s someone coming to cut our lawn.

Marcus: Oh all right. You can’t do that yourself can you?

Paul: No I haven’t got time to such things, I am a user experience consultant.

Marcus: Marketing director…

Leigh: Architect…

Leigh: I thought you were getting Astroturf what’s happened to that?

Paul: We’ve not got that far yet. We decide to begin to rip the back of our house off so it doesn’t seem much point to do stuff to the garden until we’ve done that.

Leigh: You’re going to put it on wheels?

Marcus: Ripping the back of your house off at this time of year doesn’t make sense Paul.

Paul: No we’re not doing it yet, we’ve got to get architects in and all that kind of crap. We just decided.

Marcus: You can do it Paul.

Paul: Yes I can do it. Of course I could, I forgot. How could I forget I’m an architect?

Where did we get to? What’s the difference between customer service design and experience design and where are the edges of user experience design? So there are a lot of people wanting to know what to include and what not. And I think the truth is you just arguing about semantics really. The truth is that as somebody that calls yourself a user experience designer, you have to decide on your own edges what you are capable of delivering and what you are not. And you need to work with other people to fill in those gaps. But I don’t think you should pretend to know something you don’t.

Marcus: Yes, but it seems at the moment that there is the idea that a user experience designer in our field is somebody who talks to audiences but that’s your user research, is the person that wireframes stuff, pulls it together and then hands it on. Pulls all that research type stuff into some sort of wireframe and then hands that on to a user interface designer. That just seems to be the current thinking, the current definition for what a user experience design is.


Leigh: Sorry my doorbell has just gone. You too can carry on without me.

Marcus: I haven’t got a doorbell.

Paul: But what’s interesting about that is earlier you described all three of us as potential user experience designers.

Marcus: Well we all do that bit that I just described, don’t we?

Paul: Yes, but I am very rarely any more. I can’t remember the last time I sat in today wireframe. So the kind of user experience stuff I do is more the kind of the governance side of things and the strategy side of things. I enable teams who create user interfaces.

Leigh: You are a more fundamental level aren’t you?

Paul: I don’t know.

Marcus: Equally, on a little bit of a tangent, I am currently thinking I am dubious as to the value of wireframes at the moment.

Paul: Are you talking wireframes or prototypes?

Marcus: Wireframes.

Paul: Yes I agree.

Marcus: Because I had a great experience working with Ed on a project where we went away and did a mini agile type thing where we worked solidly with a client for three days. And this was a very design led project, it’s not necessarily about content. Am I boring you Paul?

Paul: No sorry. It’s been a long day. I’m actually had to work a full day and I am in shock.

Marcus: Talking to Ed, the idea of this mini project was to hammer home, get to the bottom of audience requirements, objectives, all things we normally do and pull all those things into a new design before the end of these three days were up. And wire framing staff just seemed pointless. All as needed to know was content and priorities. He didn’t need to know tick boxes and arrows or anything like that.

Leigh: It depends massively on the scale and scope of the project. That was quite a small project with a simple delivery mechanism. I’ve spent entire days just wire framing the donation process of something. Specific bits of functionality where you can’t jump into the design, you’ve got to step through the process.

Paul: But that could be a prototype?

Leigh: Well my experience of doing a prototype is that it’s not fast enough. You want to draw something quickly, you’re sketching inboxes and arrows and this is the fastest way to do it.

Marcus: You are a user interface designer Leigh as well though. That’s why it works well for you. You do both, so you are already thinking about layout and stuff, whereas the likes of me…

Leigh: Yes I suppose I wouldn’t wireframe something I knew was going to be hard to design or wasn’t going to work somehow in the design area. I do that without thinking about it, I just naturally don’t do it. But trying to get to the bottom of the processes is what wire framing is good for.

Paul: It depends. It’s depends on the type of project, the size of the project and the makeup of your team. If you’ve got people who have got an understanding of UI and UX then you may be can skip the wire framing stage. It just depends.

Marcus: What’s next, Paul?

Paul: This is an interesting question, does UX design conflict business goals?

Leigh: Now I’ve googled that and I saw you written an article Smashing magazine in 2011.

Paul: Have a really?

Leigh: So I read that.

Paul: What does it say?

Leigh: Something about getting a good balance.

Paul: Oh how dull of me.

Marcus: It depends.

Paul: That’s so funny. Did you seriously?

Leigh: Yes.

Paul: That is terrible. Oh well, read the article.

Marcus: Yes it could.

Paul: Yes. It’s depends. I think it could do and this scenario that I always give is one that is just gone out of my head!

Do you remember when we worked with that law company in Washington? One of the things with law companies the way that they work is that most people at their kind of level hire an individual because that individual lawyer is an expert in a specific area that they are interested in. So they are the rock ‘n’ roll, celebrity lawyer that they want to hire. Now that is great, except that these lawyers move from one company to another. So from the user’s perspective they go to the website when we designed the website, they just want to get the rock star lawyer as quickly as possible and see their details. But the company wanted to show that person the broader capabilities of the company in an attempt to make that user more loyal to the company rather than the rock star lawyer. So in that situation there was a slight conflict between what the user wanted, which was give me the celebrity lawyer as fast as possible, and what the company wanted to do which was hey look at our great capabilities beyond this person. So they can in some situations conflict and that is a balance that you have to work on.

Marcus: The majority of a cross sell could get in the way of someone wanting to just find a phone number. So yes is the simple answer.

Paul: A lot of it just comes down to picking your moment, doesn’t it? Another one that always gets me is sharing. You as a company want to share your stuff on Twitter or Facebook and probably the individual isn’t what they are therefore. They are there to buy laptop or whatever. See got to wait until they finished their primary action, their primary task and then ask them whether they would consider sharing at that point rather than interrupt what they want to do.

It’s like when I was buying a pair of slippers, why couldn’t it be something more exciting than slippers?

Leigh: I saw the picture of the slippers though, they were very fancy slippers Paul.

Paul: They are very fancy slippers.

Marcus: Really?

Leigh: You found a pair of gadgety slippers didn’t you?

Paul: They are slippers reinvented for the 21st century. That’s what they are.

Marcus: How? How can you have gadgety slippers?

Paul: Right, I will show you my slipper. So this is my slipper, my slipper looks like a fairly ordinary slipper. Very nice.

Marcus: It looks like a shoe actually.

Paul: Yes, because it’s got a hard sole. But check this out, you can take the hard sole off! So now you have a nice indoor slipper. Now if you happen to be somebody that doesn’t like the flip back, it’s magic! I should have been a tele-salesman, I should work on QVC.

Leigh: We should have recorded this.

Paul: We’ll put a link in the show notes to my amazing slippers. Meg will have to ask me what they are because I can’t remember.

Leigh: How much are these Paul?

Paul: Oh they are massively overpriced.

Leigh: How much a normal slippers? Let’s think… £5? How much are they? £50?

Paul: No, I wish to defend myself here. The problem was, well you guys must have this problem you work from home all the time, right? Do you not get through slippers at a high rate of knots?

Marcus: I do, yes. And I don’t work from home all the time.

Leigh: I wear sandals, I wear these sandals every day. And they go inside and out that’s probably not really very hygienic.

Paul: Marcus is getting his out now.

Leigh: I’ve never had a moccasin type slippers.

Marcus: This one’s got a hole in it.

Paul: We can’t be talking about slippers, we had this conversation on the last episode of the last season with Sarah Parmenter. I distinctly remember talking about slippers. We are doing it again.

Marcus: We weren’t actually showing each other slippers at that point.

Paul: Anyway. What I was trying to say is, you arrive on the site going I want to buy a pair slippers, that’s all they sell. But they put in overlay – would you like to sign up to our newsletter? Does anybody ever complete that? What?

Leigh: Arriving at the site you know nothing about them so of course the first thing you want to do is make a regular commitment to the company of whom you know nothing about.

Paul: But what they do is that they try and motivate you by saying you can have 10% off of your first order if you sign up for the newsletter. But at this stage you don’t know whether you want the slippers and you don’t know how much they cost so you don’t know whether 10% off is a good deal or not. I then said to note that, went to buy the slippers and at that point I wanted the 10% off and later been willing to give them my email address but I’d close the pop-up so there’s no way of me getting to it.

Leigh: Really? Was that your only chance? You’d have to go to another browser or clear your cookies or stuff.

Paul: Anyway I don’t know what that was about – oh, conflict between user experience and business goals. Last question, can you give some good examples of UX design, good UX design rather than UI design.


Leigh: Are we talking about websites or anything? I would have thought Amazon. Amazon is a brilliant case of experience design but a very poor user interface design. But everything they do is aimed to complete your goal and their goal fastest. And every part of the experience to be quite good it delivers things so fast, and returns so fast, and prices are so good. It’s perhaps bloated and the interface isn’t beautiful.

Marcus: Cups. Hot liquid without the handle would burn you.

Paul: That’s a perfectly good example. I’ll tell you another one a bit more techie and less Luddite than Marcus’s.

Fire! That’s a good user interface design.

Leigh: The wheel!


Leigh: It would be crap if it was square.

Paul: Another good one and related to the Amazon one is DPD the delivery people.

Leigh: Oh yes.

Paul: The day before, they tell you your delivery is going to arrive and then on the day itself they give you a one-hour slot that it’s going to arrive in. So no more hanging around all day waiting for it to arrive. Better still, if over that time you think to yourself, oh I wanted a pint of milk because I want to make a cuppa tea I want to go to the loo want to go in the shower somewhere like that where you might not be out of the door within that one hour allotted slot. You could look up exactly where they are online and it tells you how many people are in front of you and where their vehicle is and all the rest of it. It’s brilliant.

Leigh: Yes, but I incorporated that as part of the Amazon user experience, which is totally unfair on DPD because it is entirely theirs. But maybe Amazon have encouraged this for their careers and they want them all to be like this.

Paul: Yes but sometimes you get Yodel and they are shit.

Leigh: But maybe they’ve been told to sort it out. I hope so, because I want them all to be like DPD.

Paul: Hey, Uber is another good example.

Leigh: I’ve never used them.

Paul: Have you not? Oh it’s brilliant.

Marcus: Are they the taxi people?

Paul: Yes. So think about the normal tax experience and all the bits you hate about it. One, is that you have to have cash and you. Two, they have to write a receipt for you and you are sitting in traffic while they are scribbling a receipt. Three, always got this vague suspicion they are taking you on a round-about route. For, you don’t know how much is going to cost, you have no idea how much is going to cost before you go. Five, you have to hail a taxi you have to actually find one. Six, if you are in America or somewhere like that you have to tip you have to work that out. Uber deals with all of those problems, takes all that away so you have a registered credit card on the system, you open their app. It automatically works out where you are it says do you want a taxi? Yes. And you say where you want to go. It will give you a quote of roughly how much it will cost, is only an estimate but it gives you an idea. You can track the route as they do it. They will send you an email afterwards with all the receipt information and the route that they actually took, you rate and review which drivers are best – it’s just brilliant. It’s really well thought through.

Marcus: But are there drivers properly registered?

Leigh: Know they are any just any old bod.

Paul: But why does that matter? Why do I care as a user?

Marcus: You might not care but a young woman might.

Paul: Yes. And they have had issues with that which they are dealing with, so yes that is a fair comment. And I do think that is one area where they fall down in. That is a very good point actually, but generally speaking it’s a good user experience except for the potential of being molested. But other than that…

Leigh: At some point they are going to have to communicate that there drivers are all vetted and registered.

Marcus: There is another one though, Hailo is the London black cab version of that which I have used and seems pretty good.

Paul: Yes and that’s their response to Uber. And that’s a great thing I think about user experience design is that it forces the competitors to step up their game which I think is good as well. So that’s always a good thing.

Leigh: I really wish someone would sort out restaurants because I think every experience of a restaurant is always spoilt by the fact that you have to pay at the end. Obviously if they were all free, marvellous but I hate the process of paying, it just pisses me off.

Paul: Prezzos. You can pay for in advance using PayPal. And then just walk out.

Leigh: I want everyone to do that because I just want to walk out. I don’t want to have to ask somebody to give me the bill, then they go away, then you wait for them to come back again and then you’re presented with due want to give a tip? Sometimes it will work it out for you sometimes you have to quickly panic.

Marcus: There was a really simple way around that Leigh. Carry cash.

Leigh: Oh that’s even worse!

Paul: Oh no, cash is terrible.

Marcus: In that situation, cash is superb because you basically have to ask for the bill, the bill arrives, you make a decision based on whatever it is whether you want to put a bit of a tip on it, you put the cash on the table and walk out. Boom. Done.

Leigh: But you have to know how much cash you needed.

Paul: Bah.

Marcus: Works every time me.

Leigh: I just want to finish and walk out.

Paul: Talking of finishing and walking out…


Paul: Can we move on? Can we do our next sponsor which is Harvest). We all use Harvest. Leigh, I think you ought to talk about how great Harvest is because you are so good at Harvest.

Leigh: I love Harvest. What’s Harvest again? Oh the time tracker app.

Paul: The time tracking software that you fill in so completely every week. Actually and Marcus, we can bring you in on this as well you’re really good at it as well, aren’t you?

Marcus: I use Harvest is a lot these days.

Leigh: I did it beautifully last week.

Marcus: I use Harvest a lot from reporting now but I don’t use it myself. I do, but I never hit the timer. I don’t do that.

Paul: Do you know, one of the things that they wrote when they gave me some points to talk around, and one of the things that they said is that it is such a great user interface your employees will actually complete it. And I can’t actually say that out loud because it takes a lots more to force an employee to complete a time tracker. Some kind of electric prod – they ought to provide you with some kind of Taser.

Marcus: What I say Paul probably about once a month is that you won’t get paid.


Marcus: I imply that, I imply that in a way that we have many clients and we only use Harvest for time and materials work. So therefore if you don’t fill it in then we will never be paid again by those clients who are paying us on a time and materials basis.

Paul: I think that we’ve thought of their next feature, that basically if people don’t fill in their timesheets it automatically blocks them being paid their wages at the end of the month. That is a great feature. You can have that one for free Harvest.

No actually I’ve got to say there are damn good reasons why we use Harvest. It’s a brilliant tool for tracking time that you spent on client projects. You don’t have to use it just like us where we only use it for time and materials, you can use it to track whether you make any money on other projects as well which is a good idea, but maybe you are too lazy like we are.

Also people have no excuse not to use it because in the browser, iPhone, Mac, android it’s there. You can start timing on one platform and then pick it up on another. It’s great for reporting and keeps your projects from going over time and outside of budget. Well it doesn’t stop that actually, that’s a lie. It lets you know when you gone over time and budget I think is a fair comment. So you will know which projects and clients you are making money from. Which is always good. When it’s all said and done when you finished a project, it even creates invoices where you can list your billable hours which is kind of cool.

We don’t use it for that do we?

Marcus: No.

Paul: I should start tracking my time. I am probably haemorrhaging money.

Marcus: I don’t agree with just generally… I don’t reject the premise of the application. It’s great for time and materials, but as soon as you start to get people to measure their time on this and that it starts to become fantasy and you don’t actually know whether you are making money or not because people make it up.

Paul: Soon as people feel like the number of hours they track has to add up to 8 hours, that’s fantasy.

Marcus: Exactly and if you’re working on a time and materials project you aren’t adding up the time that you are supposed to be at work on that particular piece. It works for that brilliantly but I don’t think it works for…

Paul: I didn’t realise that any invoices you create can be copied over into your accounting tool to eliminate data re-entry. Now for me that’s really good that kind of thing, because I do stuff like my mentorship I have to track hours and give people a report on that. So for that kind of thing that would be brilliant.

You can check out Harvest at Boagworld.com/Harvest and take advantage of all of its cool features and stuff. There’s loads to find out about what it does, it’s really grown and become a lot more sophisticated. Because we started using it really early on, I think it was still in beta so we’ve been using it for a long time so that’s how much we like it and we pay money for it which is almost unknown in our terms. So you can get a 30 day free trial and if after that 30 day free trial you continue to carry on, then use the code Boag and receive 50% off your first month, which is really cool.

Hey, Marcus! Talking about sponsors, you said you wanted to have a Headscape-sponsored slot on the show.

Marcus: Only if it starts the show.

Paul: You want to be the first one?

Marcus: So I need to prepare something?

Paul: I need some talking points, or you need some talking points. Do you want to do your own or shall I do it in my super professional voice?

Leigh: Oh yes and I could put the music underneath and have some vocals singing Headscape?

Marcus: But yes, I would be delighted.


Leigh: Bodyform?

Paul: Some reason that was the first one that sprang into my mind. That’s really disturbing. I’m not really the target audience, am I? The other one I remember is do the Shake and Vac?

[More caterwauling]

Leigh: You haven’t watched ITV for a long time have you Paul?

Paul: So you have four episodes that you can talk about whatever you want Marcus. Are you excited about that?

Marcus: Hugely. Thank you.

Paul: Joke?

Marcus: This is from Darryl again, Darryl sends me jokes. Thank you.

Two Owls are sitting on a tree branch in the pouring rain when one owl says to the other

“Do you know I haven’t had a girlfriend in agents because of this rubbish weather?”

“Why is that then?” the other owl asked.

The first owl replied “Because it’s too wet-to-woo”.


Paul: That’s actually quite good. I like that one. I wish I could remember all these jokes you tell me every week, Marcus because some of them are quite good.

Marcus: I’ve got all of the Edinburgh Festival Best jokes as well to go through. Some of those are quite good.

Paul: But they are a bit too sophisticated for our audience.

Marcus: Not all of them are, they really aren’t.

Paul: That’s okay. It’s not our audience, they are too sophisticated for us let’s be honest. So anyway that’s it for this week we’ve gone on way too long. Next week we’re going to talk about building a business case for UX with Jared Spool so make sure you tune in for that. Hopefully you will enjoy it. And that’s it for this week, goodbye.