Ryanair and a confusing confirmation eMail… and simple improvements

Recently, I bought some tickets and extras with Ryanair, the world's cheapest airline… all online, of course. Yet Ryanair weren't even capable of sending me an itemised bill. Instead, they sent me an eMail with the grand total. Relying on me to remember everything that I had ordered from them. Read about Ryanair's follow-up eMail, how confusing it was and how to fix it on

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Impolite UX: Everyday examples in big name eCommerce… and how to avoid it

An appeal for more polite shopping experiences.
In the last few weeks, I made two trips (one on business and the other for pleasure). I booked tickets and bought a few other things… and all of those purchases were made online. In several of those purchases, I couldn't help notice that the dialogue was robotic (in the worst sense of the word). It often left me, the customer, with work to do to "work out" what to do next. Read about what went wrong and how to avoid making the same mistakes on

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I bought something online… but what happened to my address?

My eyes aren’t what they used to be.
I buy many of my glasses online. And have done for a few years now. I recently ordered some new glasses at the usual place where I buy them.
After the buying process and I moved on to other more interesting things.
Then it went kinda wrong… essential reading if you run an online shop on

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Online Shopping: A UX case study but I missed the dialogue with the delivery man

Finding and buying a product is the easy bit.
My daughter had an upcoming birthday and was getting into photography. I believed that a compact digital camera would make a good present for her… with more than three weeks to go until the big date, there shouldn’t be any problems… or so I thought… read about the challenges in eCommerce and how to avoid the mistakes on

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Five simple UX rules to reduce your website conversion to irritate & confuse your customers

Did you know that you too can reduce your website conversion by applying these simple UX rules:
Findability — hide CTAs that might bring your customer further along his purchase funnel
Usability — never indicate that there’s more content below the fold
Confusion — surprise your customers by leading them to a…
Read the simple check list on

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Computer savvy users make up only 5% of 5% of the adult population

KISS and aim for a broad consumer audience.
Recent international research across 33 rich countries by the Norman Nielsen group shows that 95% of the world's adult population are alarming un-savvy when it comes to using a computer or smartphone.
That means only 5% of grown-ups are savvy.
That's 5% of people aged at least 16.
And even worse, it turns out that our de rigueur preferred target audience of power users (those who can perform any task with ease) make up about only 5% of that group of 5% of adults.
That goes some way to explain why most interfaces leave real people (almost all participants in usability tests) completely at a loss.
So keep it simple!

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The new attention economy, use it to your advantage

Cut the crap.
Attention is a resource and any person has only so much of it.
That makes grabbing someone's attention increasingly difficult in an already overloaded information world.
Add constant interuptions and you begin to see why minimalism in most design disciplines has been rediscovered and become so popular.
What this means for the UX space is that you need to identify & remove clutter.

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Usable vs. useful

A useable product isn't automatically a useful product.
Usability & viability of a product are completely different aspects of UX.
And people often struggle with poor software if they think that a solution to their particular problem awaits them at the end of their long struggle.
But a product that requires mental effort (jargon: cognitive load) neither receives praise & appreciation nor is it likely to be used again.

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Expectation management

A big name screws it up.
I wrote in my blog about my search for a TV and how Sony monumentally failed at managing consumer expectations.
Although the blog is more of a rant than anything else, there are parallels to and lessons for the UX world.
Sony adopted a lean approach and quickly identified their minimal viable product (jargon: MVP), i.e. they released a smart TV with great picture quality and good sound. They don't or didn't know that a product needs to be loveable, otherwise it won't be adopted (MLP stands for Minimum Loveable Product).
Sony advertised every feature on their roadmap to help sales.

In Sony's world, everyone is computer savvy.
In their lean approach, they also identified their target group, i.e. online users who happily connect every device.
They assumed that everyone who buys a smart TV intends to use it online which, in turn, would allow Sony to incrementally update the software (jargon: firmware) automatically.
All those customers who never connected their TVs to their wi-fi, still have the initial unstable software and daily crashes - those customers are, understandably, mad as hell at Sony.

Six whole months after the initial release of their TV, online customers have slow but stable software yet still lack major functionalities (in particular, "recording per USB").

The lessons for lean UX are obvious.
1. Everything you release puts your reputation at risk - only start-ups have no reputation to lose
2. Don't promise 100% where you can only deliver 75% - let honesty & transparency guide you
3. Make sure that what you initially release is of very high quality - the original iPhone could't do much, but what it could do, it did brilliantly
4. Be careful with the word "soon" - most people measure soon in days and not in months
5. Manage expectations by communicating the next phase of your roadmap - what you're working on and when it will be available
6. Should you need to postpone a release or update, do it, but do it only once - Sony regularly postponed the promised functionality "recording per USB" which led to mistrust and customer frustration
7. Don't expect that people will forgive you for lying to them or treating them badly.

I wouldn't be surprised if Sony have managed themselves out of the TV business.
Needless-to-say, most of the customer reviews say that they will never buy Sony again which brings me to social proof and returning customers.

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Alex B. - UX Designer & Researcher - Berlin based - Articles

Berlin based
Lean UX designer
Iterative design
Information architect
User interface designer

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