Paul Boag is one of my favorite bloggers. His posts on UX (user experience) are must reads for anyone concerned about the user experience of their website, app, in person experience, and product.

I first discovered Paul’s blog a few years back and have been reading ever since. He’s on my UX go-to-expert short list.

Let’s meet Paul…

Paul Boag is a user experience designerauthor and speaker. He helps not-for-profits such as the European Commission, UCAS and Doctors Without Borders adapt to the digital world. He also works with many sizeable commercial clients. He refocuses them on user experience and engaging with a new digitally savvy audience. All the while pursuing his not-so-hidden agenda.

Let’s go inside the mind of a world renowned UX badass…

Question One – UX Misconceptions

We work with a lot of marketing professionals here at Wood Street. It used to be that UX was some ancient mystic religion that only a select few understood. Now, UX terminology seems to have permeated the marketing vocabulary. What are some of the most common UX misconceptions you’ve encountered?

The biggest misconception is that UX and UI design are the same thing. A UX designer does care about the user interface, but that is not where his or her interest stops. User Experience Designers look beyond the screen and care about any interaction that impacts the user experience whether that takes place online or off.

Question Two – Getting Started with UX

And continuing with that, if someone in marketing or even just business management wanted to know more about UX, where would you recommend they start?

Wow that is a tough one. There are so many excellent sources of information on user experience. The interaction design foundation has some great material as does the Nielsen Group.

Then there are great thinkers such as Jared Spool or Gerry McGovern. My own blog also has over 13 years of writing on the subject.

Question Three – UX and Website Design

We build websites here, all day, every day. We still find that some clients want to start the process by talking about what they like in a website. Where would you recommend they start?

I start all projects with two questions:

  1. Who will be using the website?
  2. What do they want to know?

Too often projects begin with the question “What do we want to say” when they should start by asking “what does our audience want to know”.

Question Four – UX vs. UI vs. UXD

I think some folks mistake UI (user interface) for UX (user experience) or even UXD (user experience design). We can get lost in acronyms. Any advice on keeping this all straight and useful?

Although not the most accurate description I talk about as UI being about what is on the screen, while UX is about everything else too. It cares about everything from how the client is charged to what after sales service is like. It is not limited to the interface.

Question Five – Journey Mapping and Prototyping

Some organizations would think that journey mapping and prototyping might be overkill for their website or application design/build. Is there a threshold where these start to make sense? Or would you advocate that everyone does some version of this?

They are only overkill if you allow them to be. A prototype can be a sketch on a piece of paper and a journey map can be created in a couple of hours with a few key stakeholders.

All of these tools can be scaled up or down to suit the budget. Obviously, the more time and energy you put into them the better they will be. But they are always worth doing.

Bonus Question – Humor in UX and Sticking Out Your Tongue

When I first discovered your blog, there was a GIF of you sticking your tongue out. This is one of my favorite things, ever! What was the overall reaction to that when it was up? How does humor play into UX?

There was indeed. That was a while ago. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive when it is was up, but I removed it in a redesign. There was nothing wrong with it, it was simply time for a change.

I am a great believer that humour should be a part of a good user experience. That is because of something called cognitive ease. If somebody is in a good mood, things FEEL easier. People will persevere with a website longer when they are in a good mood.

Of course, humour isn’t the only way to put somebody in a good mood and used badly it can actually make somebody in a worse mood. But the principle stands.

In Closing

Speaking of sticking your tongue out, seems like a good opportunity to feature Academy Award Winner Stanley Tucci (that’s my dog’s name)…

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.

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