There have been quite a few articles on the subject of UX myths. Basically, a UX myth would be an erroneous belief, misunderstanding, or misapplication of a UX method or principle. There is even a site dedicated to the listing of what are considered UX myths conveniently named uxmyths.com. There are a number of very good articles on the site alone. They also do a great job linking to multiple sources and research around each issue they list. However, there are also several topics that I feel are debatable.
Regrettably, they do not allow any comments on the site, so it is not a good place for really discussing ways to avoid or dispel them, or as in my case, dispute their status as myth in the first place. In most cases, many myths can simply be addressed by educating people in proper UX methodology. However, there are not many places for real discussions on the discipline and practice of good UX online. For the most part there are experts and consultants like Steve Krug, Jesse James Garrett, Jared Spool, and Don Norman who speak at conferences and work with businesses. Yet, their sites do not offer any opportunity to post questions, let alone discuss issues in UX. There are sites like stack exchange and quora that have UX sections, but it does not seem there is much discussion on these myths. I don’t presume that my site could serve that purpose, but I have my own myth to share here and am happy to post any feedback.
UX Myth: There can only be one
Unlike the Highlander, there will be many instances where you will encounter a problem or issue in UX that has more than one optimal solution. This can even be after you have done extensive user research and iteration. So while every design decision should be based on evidence, there may often be inconclusive results. This can occur when there are hard to test conditions or factors that can not be fully understood or accounted for no matter how much research is done.
Most places handle this by going with the simpler solution, either in implementation time, cost or some other criteria that will point in even the slightest direction. In some places, the senior most team member or other senior stakeholder/group will make the final choice. However, there can be heated discussions and general dissatisfaction amongst the team over parts of a design that are critical. Yet, in the overall scheme of things, more than one of the proposed solutions will achieve same level of optimal results.
Debunking the myth
Every user research method has its limitations. Belief in the infallibility of the usability test, AB tests, or other research method is a weakness in itself. Especially when it comes to understanding and analyzing the results. For example, despite the amazing results AB test vendors may show in their supporting case studies, there were likely many tests performed with inconclusive results prior to the success.
What may be more problematic are inconclusive or mixed usability test results. Even the most detached/objective researchers can reach different conclusions observing the same sessions. If users muddled their way to a task completion, can you really count it as a success… or as a failure? Sure they may express dissatisfaction afterwards and you may use that as a guide to refine the design, but that is not always the case. And the new design likely has flaws as well. Most places do not have infinite time or resources to create perfect design.
This is, in fact, the nature of research. Significant results are not often achieved, and when they are, they should generally be further tested to confirm the results. Just because users complete tasks and express satisfaction does not mean you have the best design. Limited time and budgets mean, that at some point, a decision has to be made regardless of remaining questions or concerns.
Healthy debate about an inconclusive result is good when it is a critical matter, but there is a misguided belief that the answer can always be found in further research. Aside from the cost or time limitations, it is quite possible that there are two or more equally valid solutions. If UX professionals can understand this, they may be able to avoid wasting time debating matters which can not be resolved with the time and resources currently available for a project.
These are some related resources for UX myths:Go to the comment form