Live from UXPA Boston: Over-complicated? Over-simplified? The UX Efficient Frontier

Over-complicated? Over-simplified? The UX Efficient Frontier, by Morgane Peng

What is good design for expert users? As a consumer you use a lot of apps, but there are people behind the scenes using more complex interfaces. We don’t see those versions very often, because we’re not in the industry.

For example, as consumers we use Google and see ads. But professional marketers use Google Ads to get those ads out there (which represents 82% of Google’s revenue!).

Sometimes something complex and difficult for designers is complex but easy for the pros! Business professionals don’t need to be spoon-fed. Their job is to know how their work “works”. They need it to feel natural, not simple.

When we over-simplify things, we make them harder to use.

The UX Efficient Frontier

Business expertise meets interface expertise.

When someone has low business expertise, they are asking “how do I do it?” But when they have high business expertise, they ask “how can I stay in the flow?”

Low interface expertise means needing progressive disclosure, larger text, extra spacing. Higher expertise gets smaller text, more information in one place.

When the two meet, we get things just about right. High business expertise has to meet high interface expertise.

How do you design for the UX Efficient Frontier?

With a large consumer base, you have low. But with a niche market that has a lot of expertise, you don’t want to be at low interface. You have to do user research and understand that audience’s needs.

We have responsibilities to our users. Financial investing isn’t playing Candy Crush, and it requires complexity. There needs to be friction.

How do you do it?

  • Start outside of design tools
  • Start with data modeling in spreadsheets, to identify where you’re confused – and validate it, to see where people use different words for the same thing
  • Avoid an us vs them view – in favor of us vs failure approach

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