Your grandma doesn’t understand what you’re doing at work? In this article, you’ll find several ways to explain to her what is UX.
P.S. These UX explanations also work for people who have never heard of user experience (UX).
Plerdy team has come up with several simple ideas and ways to help your grandma understand what is UX.
UX in grandma’s terms:
- Idea #1. UX as building a house
- Idea #2. Think like your grandma
- Idea #3. Website UX as a landline phone
- Idea #4. UX as a toilet seat lid
- Idea #5. UX as a trash bin
- Idea #6. UX as an old TV set without a remote
- Idea #7. UX as a lawn mower vs. a scythe
- Idea #8. UX as a pan of hot water
- Idea #9. UX as one horsepower vs. 40 horsepower
- Idea #10. UX as a natural food store nearby vs. a huge garden
- Idea #11. UX as an online music streaming services vs. vinyl records
In the last 100 years, evolution anNd development have accelerated so much that some scientists even detect changes in our physical appearance. What seemed so familiar for ages has changed. Needless to say that if something so stable has modified, the gap between the worldviews of different generations has also become huge.
A German sociologist Karl Mannheim even conducted a study to show how people born in different decades differ. His approach is called the Theory of generations and proves that historical context considerably affects our values, way of thinking, and worldview.
Theoretical studies are great. Still, they don’t solve the problems of ordinary people without a University degree in sociology or other fancy fields.
Especially, when you visit your grandparents, they offer you tea with your favorite pie, and ask where you work. If you are a team lead, lucky you! After a brief but painful story about your job, grandparents will understand that you’re leading a team and someone pays you for that. Congrats! Now you’re on the same page and your family is proud of you.
But what to do if you are a UX specialist? Back in their youth, grandparents couldn’t even imagine UX architecture or something as basic as websites in their wildest dreams. That’s why you need to explain what is UX in simple terms and use lots of metaphors. To save your creative resources, we did this for you in our article.
UX in grandma’s terms
Start with what is usability in UX. The word “usability” is used to describe how convenient something is. You can take a bottle of ketchup to show what you mean by this UX term.
In the first case, designers aimed to create a small, stylish, and quite convenient to use ketchup. Yet it turned out that most customers preferred a plastic bottle with a bottom lid. Why? It has more ketchup, is easy to open, and you can get everything to the last drop. This is an example of poor usability or a lack of understanding of how to use a glass bottle :). Note that low-quality usability always affects the overall user experience (UX).
The process of UX design may be harder to explain. You’ll need to turn on your imagination. We hope our “What is UX” ideas will inspire you.
How to Explain What is Good User Experience (UX) – Idea #1.
UX as building a house
To help your grandma understand what is UX, compare your work with the work of an architect. By the way, construction projects are often similar to UX ones. Some designs are just ok, others are stunning, but there are also those that confuse and look strange.
Good UX of a house or flat is when deciding to have a bite at night you can go directly to the kitchen without going through someone’s bedroom 🙂
This may be a great way to start explaining what is UX.
In some houses, it’s hard to understand the logic behind the location of doors, partition walls, and utilities. In other – you feel like everything is easily accessible regardless of how large the room is.
Example of bad UX in interior design:
As you can see, this restroom is extremely small and high at the same time. What a horrible case, right?
To make the most of the free space, house owners decided to install two small vertical cabinets and a large horizontal one. But there is something UX-related they didn’t take into account. They will be forced to climb the toilet each time they need to get something from the upper shelf. This is very uncomfortable and the toilet may break. Even if they bring a chair to open the cabinet, it’s unlikely to fit there.
But why did everything go so wrong? These house owners lacked skills to plan a functional room that could be easily used by anyone. The task of an interior designer or an architect is to calculate which space planning would be the most suitable in a specific case. The place should be comfortable to live in, whereas utilities must be secure and durable.
The designer must explain what solutions are recommended and provide all the possible space planning options. There will be no crush test of their ideas. Everything should be finalized before the start of flat renovation or house construction. For example, a mistake in construction calculations may cost the constructor a huge (we mean REALLY huge!) sum of money. And that’s the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, it may take someone’s life. A quality plan will help to reduce risks at every stage of construction and save time, money, and effort during project implementation.
A good interface is like a fresh breath. As long as it’s fresh, you don’t notice it. But when it’s bad…you want to leave asap
Walk-through rooms are the most common case of poor UX in interior design. Let’s admit that it’s never pleasant when someone enters your room on their way to the bathroom or kitchen at night, while you’re sleeping.
A single restroom in a large house is another usability failure. Every floor must have a separate toilet. Otherwise, the life of homeowners will be very uncomfortable.
But there is something worse. For example, outdoor toilets. You can still come across them in villages. Just imagine what an inconvenient design solution they are. Especially in winter.
At this point, you can draw a parallel between construction and UX. Tell your grandma that the only difference is that UX is about how easily someone finds the necessary information. Or about how fast people figure out how something works and performs its functions.
Here is a good example of confusing doors (and confusing UX):
At first glance, it looks like they open both ways. In reality, you will need to try both pushing and pulling to understand how these doors work. The same relates to website UX. Yet whereas with the doors, people are likely to make the second attempt and enter the room, website visitors are less patient. 50% of users who don’t reach the desired result after clicking a specific button or element, immediately leave the web resource.
That’s why similarly to an architect or designer, a UX specialist needs to develop a plan that meets all project specifications and hand it to developers who will use these instructions to design a product. So what is good UX in grandma’s terms? It’s a place that is so comfortable you want to stay there forever.
How to Explain What is Client Experience in UX – Idea #2.
Think like your grandma
UX is a part of marketing efforts taken to launch a new business or optimize an existing one. UX helps to improve client experience and increase customer satisfaction. Why don’t you explain what is UX this way? Marketing is something simpler – it existed long before websites and the Internet, just looked different.
You don’t need to come up with a complex UX allegory to convey the essence of online marketing or use confusing UX terminology. A marketer that works with client experience or basically any other product should have one essential quality. They must be able to adapt to the way of thinking of another person. They should understand how this person lives and perceives the world. When you promote products, this skill allows you to see what matters for potential customers and which product features can convince them to choose you.
Thus, you need to do the same with your grandma. Try to see the world as she does and imagine how it looked when she was young.
From the beginning of the 20th century, and up to the Golden Age that started in the 50s, the society lived in relative scarcity (caused by wars, manufacturing complexities, undeveloped technology, pricey raw by-products, etc.). Products often targeted a broad market segment and satisfied only basic consumer needs. Since there was almost no competition (if compared to today), the secret to successful sales was simple: create a quality product suitable for most consumers and start making a profit.
Demand exceeded supply, especially in many socialistic countries, where every store looked like an Apple store on the day of the new iPhone launch. Consumers were the ones more interested in quality relationships with sellers. That not only helped to grab a better product but allowed people to get at least something in the midst of the post-war deficit.
Let’s go back to the 21st century. Unlike one hundred years ago, today the market is focused on quality relationships with buyers. There are more products than human needs they can satisfy. Therefore, to stimulate consumerism, advertisers and mass media create additional needs artificially by setting trends, selling luxury and material signs of success. Without a strong and positive connection with the target audience, any product, even the most useful one, will fall victim to the market competition.
Millennials can learn about the deficit only from history books or their grannies’ stories. Grandmas who went through both scarcity and richness of choice know what can really nudge someone into a purchase. If a store sells them a low-quality product or serves without a smile, they will go to another one with better client experience. Moreover, they may warn everyone else about such a poor service, and the store will lose all its customers.
A personal approach and customer service are the pillars of successful modern businesses of the new century. Today, you don’t only need to smile at customers when you serve them but should also constantly communicate with them later through social media, email newsletters, landings, and official websites. It’s necessary to stay updated on your customers’ preferences and make them regular attractive offers. Social media have replaced newspapers and magazines, email newsletters are used instead of print and media, whereas an official website may fully substitute an offline store.
The emerging and gaining popularity customer-oriented approach means that customer relationships start not when people reach your sales counter. – You need to build them before the store even opens. To do that, interviewers run surveys studying what consumers need while marketers do their best to step into customers’ shoes. This information enables them to ensure the right user experience (in other words, UX) and realize how other people see this world. That’s actually what you just did when you tried to think about UX like your grandma.
How to Explain What is Customer Relations Experience in UX – Idea #3.
Website UX as a landline phone
At the beginning of the 20th century, landline phones were a luxury. Yet very soon, they turned into a necessity. It was very convenient to have a phone. Grannies could call their neighbors or family members instead of going to the post office and sending letters. That’s much more time-saving.
Today, a landline phone is rarely used and many people even don’t have it. Grandchildren taught their grandmothers how to use smartphones. Some of them even managed to teach grannies how to use social media and shoot stories :). This way of communication is faster and more convenient than a landline phone.
Tell your grandma that contact information on websites is essential for quality communication. It helps to ensure a decent customer relations experience and stay in touch with online customers. To explain what is customer relations experience in UX, describe a situation when your grandma calls a store, but no one picks up the phone. She will understand that if someone cannot reach an online store, they will never order there.
The right use of the company’s phone number or social pages is a part of UX. The same relates to other contact details and communication channels. Thus, helping customers and businesses find common ground through web resources is what you do at work.
How to Explain What is User Experience (UX) – Idea #4.
UX as a toilet seat lid
Has your grandma ever been mad at your granddad or father because they are always leaving a toilet lid up? Most probably, this has happened from time to time.
We won’t speak about some sanitary norms here. The key point is that such a habit is very irritating and familiar to everyone.
The grandma had to put the toilet lid down each time the males in her house misbehaved. She told them what to do but it never worked. Such a situation annoyed the grandma because she was forced to complete an extra action she didn’t want to.
This allegory can be used to explain what is UX. If you really need to do something (which is usually the case with the toilet), you want to do this as soon as possible. Quality UX eliminates all extra steps on the way of a customer. People just visit a website, quickly complete the necessary action, and leave satisfied with their experience.
It may seem unimportant, but the more unnecessary details your website has, the fewer completed purchases you will get.
How to Explain What is Usability in UX – Idea #5.
Usability in UX as a trash bin
A strange comparison, right? Yet if you look at it differently, you’ll understand that many trash bins have an inconvenient button at the bottom, like the second one in the picture above. You need to press it, and only then you can throw rubbish. Although such a bin looks fancy and stylish, most people hate it. Instead of just throwing what you need to throw, you stand there for a minute trying to open the lid.
The first trash bin is easier to use.
Working on web design and usability of a website, you also need to make sure users can complete the necessary actions with minimum clicks. Eliminate everything that can prevent them from converting. An unnecessary button, a confusing banner, or a strange link distract the attention of website visitors and harm usability. As a result, people will go to a resource with better UX and buy from competitors.
Such an explanation should show your grandma the importance of usability in UX for customer satisfaction and high sales.
P.S. The smell and look of the trash bins is quite a different story 🙂
How to Explain What is UX in Digital Marketing – Idea #6.
UX in digital marketing as an old TV set without a remote
Remember such TV sets? You’re lucky if you are not the youngest kid who was always sent to switch the channels instead of a remote. How great it was when the manufacturers started to produce TVs with remote controls. You finally could settle yourself in a bed and switch channels without any hassle. With the appearance of smart TVs, life became too good to be true. Simply put, UX in digital marketing should be like a smart TV:
- Have a remote control = User should quickly find their way to the necessary website section or page
- Show high-quality images = Have an attractive design without unnecessary details
- Have additional capabilities = Online help, one-click order, etc
If you implement UX in digital marketing right, users will feel comfortable browsing your website or online store. They will sit on their couch, browse the resource, switch between hundreds of products, and enjoy every second of their UX experience. To explain to your grandma what is UX in digital marketing, ask her what makes modern TVs better. Most probably, she will mention convenient navigation, more vivid colors, better sound and picture. These discrepancies symbolize the difference between a website with quality UX and a non-optimized website.
How to Explain What Does UX mean – Idea #7.
UX as a lawn mower vs. a scythe
Once you start a conversation about your job of a UX specialist, get ready to answer the standard question: What does UX mean? Since the concept of UX may be unfamiliar to some of your age mates, it’s better to prepare your signature allegory. The comparison or a lawn mower with a scythe should be an effective way to tell someone what does UX mean. Even though the youth doesn’t use a scythe, they’ve definitely seen it (at least in the pictures).
On the other hand, if your grandma is old enough or grew up in a village, she knows that cutting grass with a scythe is difficult as hell. A lawn mower is a huge relief. Just turn it on and lightly push to cut grass.
If the grandma switches from the old tool to a more advanced one, she will get things done much faster and have extra time to cook a delicious dinner. The same with websites. The better they work thanks to quality UX, the more satisfied customers you get. The optimization of a website’s UX is like the transition from a scythe to a lawn mower. Although you complete the same tasks, thanks to quality UX, you can do them faster and with minimum effort.
How to Explain What is an Interaction Design in UX – Idea #8.
Interaction design in UX as a pan of hot water
First of all, let’s clarify what is an interaction design in UX. This concept may be unfamiliar even to some website or online store owners. Interaction design is a type of website design meant to boost user experience (UX). It focuses on creating dynamic websites that meet user needs, favor functionality over aesthetic solutions, and offer the simplest ways to complete an action. In other words, interaction design in UX is like hot water in your tap. Why so? Find out in the next “What is UX” idea.
Even though most millennials cannot imagine living without hot water, our grannies faced such a problem when they were young. Hence, a pot of hot water is a great allegory of UX.
There are two main ways to get a pot of hot water:
- Heat it on the stove
- Right from the tap
The only thing is that heating takes much more time. Especially, if you need a full tub of hot water.
The same with website UX. When a user needs to buy something (=wants to take a bath), they expect to immediately find the necessary product (=open the tap), add it to the cart (=fill the bathtub), and place the order. UX helps to make sure the user won’t waste any time or get irritated during their customer journey.
This should help you explain that good UX is when you can immediately get what you need.
How to Explain What is Lean UX – Idea #9.
UX as one horsepower vs. 40 horsepower
Lean UX may sound confusing but there is nothing complex in it. It’s just an approach in UX design that allows software developers and designers to work side by side. Whereas traditional UX is based on deliverables and requirements capture, lean UX is more flexible. UX designers introduce UX changes that enhance the product here and now to collect feedback and speed up software launch.
The above explanation should work for your fellow UX specialists, customers, or software engineers engaged in web development. To tell your grandma what you do at work, it’s enough to explain what is UX in general.
Here’s one of the ways to talk about UX in grandma’s terms:
About a century ago, horses were one of the main means of transport. It was romantic but problematic.
The transition to cars took a lot of time. Besides, in some villages, people still use horses. Imagine how great it would be if they could have a car? Technology and UX effectively simplify our everyday routine. Use this comparison to explain what is UX to your grandma.
How to Explain What a UX Specialist Does – Idea #10.
UX as a natural food store nearby vs. a huge garden
Of course, your grandma may love to plant flowers or have a small vegetable garden. But back in her youth, people were forced to take care of large gardens just to grow some food. This was tiring and required hard physical labor.
A natural food store near your grandma’s house gives her a choice. That’s the same thing a UX specialist does. As a UX specialist, you help customers to avoid the bumpiest conversion path. Good UX is like a convenient space planning in the store. Good UX is like groceries put in their place. And most importantly, good UX is a great way to make the store more profitable and increase sales.
How to Explain What UX Research Specialist Does – Idea #11.
UX as online music streaming services vs. vinyl records
Music is eternal, only the devices we use change. This makes it a great option to explain what a UX research specialist does for life.
Our grannies listened to their favorite songs on vinyl records, cassettes, and CDs. This would have probably never changed if these media were more convenient to use. Vinyl records were easily damaged because of overheating. Cassettes needed rewinding. CDs were too fragile. Moreover, you couldn’t listen to music without a large vinyl player or tape-recorder.
Today, you don’t need to worry about bulky devices since all music is stored online. You can find any song or video anytime and play it right from a smartphone.
Now, let’s compare this with UX. A truly convenient site means that everything is at your fingertips. When a user comes to the website for the first time, they should instantly figure out how to use it. A UX research specialist analyzes the UX needs of the target audience and UX solutions on other websites to determine what design will be the most effective.
We have provided 11 examples of how to explain to your grandma what is usability (UX). We’re sure now you will understand each other.
P.S. These UX analogies can also work for your customers who want to understand what is usability and why they need UX.
The ability to explain what is UX to someone who has absolutely no clue about it is essential for your success as a UX specialist. A few effective allegories should help you better communicate with customers and put complex concepts in layman’s terms.