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The danger of oversimplification

J.
There is always a monkey.
Originally published at blog.julien-maury.dev ・4 min read

Oversimplification can lead to terrible outcomes and confusions for the web.

Ux and intuitiveness

Ux means user experience. The Ux designer's job is to bring awesome and meaningful experiences to users.

It does not mean everything must be simplistic and trivial.

Of course, Ux and intuitiveness are not enemies at all. They are not mutually exclusive, but they are not exactly the same idea. That's why I did not say "Ux vs. intuitiveness". While intuitiveness is essential, it should not be the ultimate goal at all costs.

Let's take a concrete example. A member of my family bought a brand new car recently. It has an automatic transmission. It's supposed to be way more accessible than a manual transmission, but it requires an adaptation period in reality.

At the beginning, the person was completely lost and even anxious. It was not intuitive at all: new buttons, new moves, no more clutch pedal.

Fortunately, the company has clever Ux and Ui strategies, IMHO:

  1. they create a specific job to accompany customers and present the new car during 1 hour, so nobody is on his own
  2. all buttons are placed so the driver can use them while holding the steering wheel with both hands, which is safer and handier

In the end, this process seems to be a flawless victory. My relative is in love with the new car and even finds it simpler after all.

It shows the Ux is more about explaining and guiding users than creating oversimplistic products. Finding the right balance between a decent ergonomy and a different experience is not an easy job.

Customers sometimes confuse the two terms, and Ux designers often have to justify their choice with user's tests.

Ux and Ui

Both Ux and Ui (user interface) are essential elements of the design.

It's not uncommon that the same person does the two jobs, but these are two different roles.

Ui is about aesthetics and interactivity, which can involve the layout, the typography, the colors, the animations, and the transitions, for example. It's a full-time job, as you need to run several tests, track interactions, collect data to make recommendations, and prepare the next iterations finally.

As we saw in the previous section, Ux is more about the overall experience, including usability and functionality and the entire engineering. It's a complex and multidisciplinary job that involves wireframes and prototypes and creating personas (~ representations of the needs and goals of end-user).

The definition of "Mobile first"

Mobile-first does involve responsive design, but it's a specific concept.

Mobile-first means you start the design from the mobile, and then you create a tablet and a desktop version. The first sketches are dedicated to the mobile view.

The mobile view is limited by nature because of the screen size.

You must invert the logic. You deliver the best user experience possible to the right device. You don't create a desktop version with all features and remove or hide entire areas when the screen size decreases.

It's precisely the opposite. You will more likely enlarge areas when the screen size increases, and it has not the same consequences.

Full-stack web developer

This one can be really controversial.

Let's begin with this commit strip ^^.

You might have seen the term "full-stack web developer" on many CVs, portfolios, and job offers. However, it's often misused, and I'll try to explain why.

People often consider a full-stack as a dev who work on both the client-side and server-side of the application.

I prefer the definition provided by hackernoon (which is actually a quote from Quora):

A full stack developer is an engineer who can handle all the work of databases, servers, systems engineering, and clients

Source: hackernoon

Being more sensitive to the client-side and design is an excellent asset for a backend developer, IMHO. It's handy for side projects too.

However, that does not make you a "full-stack" web developer. You need to be proficient in various programming languages and master frontend technologies, but you have to handle DevOps and mobile dev too.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying nobody fits the profile. That would be silly, and I know some ^^, but it's pretty rare.

From another perspective, it's not necessarily what companies need, and if you find job offers to require a massive range of skills, that's not always a good sign.

They should probably instead hire an expert for each part to get the modularity they need.

Wrap up

I hope you understand a little more terms such as Ux, Ui, mobile-first, and full-stack. While some of them are related, it's important not to confuse those concepts with each other.

Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

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