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Sex & UX: Are you doing it right?

You’re probably not aware that good user experience design and good usability are actually just like great sex. The conditions must be perfect, rhythm and timing are paramount, a bit of kink goes a long way, interruptions are a big no-no, and cuddle time can’t be underestimated. Read on.

The Conditions Must Be Perfect
You know what time it is…that’s right…it’s business time. Just as with the beast with two backs, if you want a user to have an amazing experience on your website, if you want them to come again and again, and tell all their friends about you, then conditions need to be perfect. Think of this as more of a soft skill – the aesthetics of the bedroom. The colour scheme, the font type, the rounded corners, the gentle shadows, the teasing copy. All the elements of design involved in a website will have some effect on the way the users feel and behave. You need to make sure that all of these elements – these conditions – are perfect so that nothing is distracting from the ultimate climactic conversion.

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Rhythm and Timing
You don’t want to arrive at the front door of the website, only to be immediately stripped down and dealt with like a faceless customer (ok, maybe sometimes you do). A big, throbbing red ‘Buy’ button at the very top of your landing page, some hard-sell ad copy in bold capitals: these things are turn offs, and don’t respect the natural rhythm we expect to accompany a good quality lover… I mean… website. Whilst simplicity and focus on the job at hand are both excellent design imperatives, it’s still a good idea to give a context to the task you want a user to perform. We know you want them to touch your buttons, but everyone is going to be a lot happier if they feel respected and are given good reasons. Rhythm can be visual as well, and good design, with expert application of symmetry and proportion just makes the experience that much more seductive and irresistible.

A Bit of Kink
I don’t care what you say, everybody likes a bit of a kink in their think. It’s that little quirk that makes things different. It can make the corners of your lips curl up in spite of yourself, sometimes into a full bridled, animalistic snarl (if you’re lucky). Websites – web applications especially – are showing more and more personality. The choices of imagery and copy, even down to the error messages and 404 warnings are all opportunities to express the personality of the service. Twitter’s fail whale is a classic example (though not an error message you ever want to present to your lover). Personality makes a site more engaging, more memorable, and can help to broaden the user experience to encompass not just the part of the brain that is concerned with completing a task, but emotions and sense of humour as well. You can even be a bit rude and insulting if you like. Everyone gets off on a little domination.

Interruption free orgasms: A Template
You’re almost there, you can feel it building up…the electric tingle of anticipation…and then the phone rings, the sign-up page is overly complicated, your partner changes tactic, something breaks the illusion, you get turned off. Great. The subtle, but powerful tweaks of one skilled in the Karma Sutra of UX design are based on a solid understanding of, and appreciation for, the data. The drop out rates along various stages of the conversion tunnel give clues as to areas that can be improved upon. One must display the signs of credibility and trustworthiness throughout the entire experience. One must not attempt to add unnecessary fanfare by attempting fancy tricks learned from the latest ‘how-to’ guide. Listen to the voice of your imaginary users: ‘Don’t stop!’ and the unspoken instructions those words imply – don’t make me spend ages filling out a sign-up form, don’t make me search for the right spot to go to next, guide me clearly. Tell me in simple and gentle language what stage you are at, and what I should do next. Get good at this, and you are on a freight train headed for the ultimate goal: Multiple Conversions!

The Aftermath
So it is done – you got what you want, and hopefully so did your user. So is that it? Is the experience over? Don’t be so naïve, so insensitive. The cuddle time in the world of UX is just as influential as in the bedroom. It can be a time to assure the user that they have made the right choice, that they have done an excellent job, and should they have any problems down the line with troublesome infections or product defects, a friendly and receptive customer service department is literally itching to help them. An expertly executed cuddle might just mean that we can do this all again tomorrow night, and it might just be what sets you apart from that other suitor with the immense biceps/breasts/budget. Good UX, like good sex, is something both intrinsically human and transcendentally powerful. Ignore it and you may end up the 40-year-old virgin of the web.

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