Spurred by a recent Nielsen Norman Group article about a study that asserts centered logos hurt website navigation, the team at Fuzzy Math sat down to discuss the balance of innovative user experiences and usability.
Over the course of an hour we covered the following topics: Where we get design patterns, why context matters in design, branding vs. usability, and when it’s okay to push innovation.
Also, this study delves into a ton of data to try and back up their point, the first stat was that “getting back to the homepage is about six times harder when the logo is placed in the center of a page compared to when it’s in the top left corner” . Numbers are good. We can learn things from testing, but they don’t tell you everything. I don’t think designers should refrain from trying new things just because the numbers say one thing or another.
Why Context Matters in UI/UX Design
I’d also disagree a bit that interface patterns are purely man-made. Screens might not exist in nature, but much of design is rooted in instinctual cognitive behavior, which to me suggests a natural element.
Branding vs. Usability
When to Push Innovation Over Usability
From a functionality perspective, we probably shouldn’t always meet users’ expectations. They might be expecting features that are actually limiting them from completing their goals efficiently and effectively. There could be different features that solve the problem more smoothly.
We are always pushing up against boundaries where people use something. Language has boundaries. We use those boundaries to delineate ideas, but poets and cultures have always pushed those boundaries to help us transcend mere usefulness. And it’s that balance that is interesting.
You can get offended at flat design, but that’s like purists getting offended at words being used outside of their “meaning.” Flat design’s problem is that it intentionally limits the perceptive visual cues within interaction. It literally “flattens” the perceptive distance.
That’s why Google’s Material Design is so strategically smart. They created a visual language that can be used across many interfaces while not forgetting what people fundamentally need within an interface. It’s hard to do this.