Just scroll it, will you!? – UX Planet
Designers fight. Designers strive to give a life to their designs and it starts with everyday choices. Choices and decisions made in order to make a things better, satisfy business challenge, solve users’ pain points. Informed decisions are made based on inputs from all stakeholders, users. Moreover, the design decisions are also based on design principles.
It gets critical when these are challenged and entire hypothesis is shaken to the core. Things start falling apart. I would like to share few recent experiences and learnings in relation to this.
In one of my projects, we were discussing about layout of different forms. Users’ tasks were heavily dependent on forms and hence designing that effectively was crucial.
The question was about form layout. I started working being considerate about form design principles and concept was shaped with two columns layout. Forms turned out good with clean look, directed flow towards primary action and grouped fields.
Despite all these, entire stakeholder team sided on to having a compact view with multiple column layout. This conflicted with my entire thought process and some of the principles of form design. We debated healthily, brainstormed but could not get to a conclusion as both of it had some demerits. At the end, we collectively decided to take options with users.
We arranged short sessions with users of different expertise levels and chose most critical forms to test. We asked them questions around both of the concepts and I was tad bit surprised again this time.
One of the participant said,
I prefer multiple columns as it helps me to see all data upfront!
Result was — all of the users clearly stated and preferred the options with multiple columns. When probed further, users’ actual need was to see all the information in one glance and find out missing pieces to complete their tasks.
In this case, what standard practices guided could not be followed as it did not satisfy actual need of users. We overrode concerning principles and designed it for context.
These incidences reinforced the fact that understanding the actual need is of utmost importance. There might be vast set of problems one might find out just because it is designed against the standard practices but context and scenarios overrides all of that. In addition, designer must weight different options in terms of cost of drawbacks.
On similar lines, another opinion carried amongst team members is —
“Screen space should not be wasted. All the elements should be adjusted and maximum things should be available in first fold in order to avoid scroll.”
Standard practices say that elements or information should not increase cognitive load on users’ mind and doing so might be detrimental for the task completion and engaging users. Digital platforms these days have designed and used real estate carefully to reinforce the desired behaviour from users.
On the contrary, there are exceptions. There are systems and applications that demand using entire screen available.
For example, development environments, coding applications use majority of their real estate efficiently. User goals, scenarios are completely different in this case. That’s why it needs to be taken into consideration right in the beginning.
The entire experience of design revolves around the context and the way users are taken towards completing their tasks. Each and every hinderance in this process might create strong resentment, unless designed specifically to satisfy business requirement.