The importance of context in user experience design

This morning I was hit by a severe door slam. I was checking my twitter stream on my iPhone and saw this tweet from @morgenthaler (translated from Danish):

“I have given @alternativet my signature underskriv.alternativet.dk.
I think more people should do that”

I don’t know Jeppe in person, but from his tweets it’s clear that he is an idealistic person with high moral standards. So I wanted to see what he had supported.

A click on the link resulted in a pages that stated:

“We are sorry, but the digital petition doesn’t work on mobile and certain older browsers”

Door slam. And not a single explanation of what “Alternativet” is.

So I left. And I presume I won’t be the only user they refuse to let in.

The problem

A lot of site owners just don’t get the importance of thinking about user context; like the companies who serve some of their content through video only, because they heard that “people don’t like to read on the internet” are excluding all the users who (secretly or not) browse that particular site during work hours. Which, even though employers hate to admit it, happens frequently.

And Alternativet, who is getting a lot of attention through social media, but haven’t optimized their petition page for mobile devices; they are excluding goodness knows how many potential supporters because they fail to realise that social media is used more through mobile devices than desktop devices these days.

The chance of the following user scenario happening is zero to none:
Clicking “Alternativet”‘s link on mobile only to get a doorslam of “sorry, we don’t support mobile” (and in addition: zero explanation of what “Alternativet” is) -> then backtracking -> then favoriting the tweet -> then remembering to go to my favorites the next time they’re on a desktop computer -> then signing the petition.

But nonetheless, that is what “Alternativet” expects of the people who access their petition page through a mobile device.

And they will probably never truly get the full truth about just how many supporters they will have turned away at the door. Not unless they pull statistics on how many users failed to access their petition through a mobile device.

People don’t reward crappy ux by investing their vote, money or time. They leave.

The solution

A great method to ensuring a focus on context is by working with early and continuous user involvement. By creating rich user scenarios that illustrate all the different situations in which a user is likely to be in when interacting with your site (or app). By considering all possible entry points and routes into the site. Because failing to do so will ultimately lead to loss in revenue.

One thought on “The importance of context in user experience design”

  1. Dear Trine Falbe – thanks so much for you response. The Alternative don’t want for sure to have a closed door politic in our communication. Neither in real life or on the net.

    If our system is not working the way it should, we will do all what we can to get it up and running ASAP.

    As a new political party everything is done without any money at all. That’s maybe the reason?? But we will look into it. And thanks again for your feedback.

    All the best

    Uffe Elbæk, MP.

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