The internet is now an intricate part of our society; it has become indispensable. It is nearly impossible not to interact with a website on a daily basis. Face it- the days of combing through A-Z encyclopedias are over. We all have deep-rooted interests and needs that will guide us from one site to another. The biggest question is why? What makes us choose where we shop online or why we spend endless hours reading the comments section of Buzzfeed as opposed to Reddit?
It is the simple fact that we can either find a way to effectively use the website in a functional manner, aka UX (user experience) design, and/or visually connect with the website by the use of UI (user interface) design.
At a time when humans change their minds constantly, they often have difficulty comprehending what they need (Megha Goyal). Designers need to understand these changes in order to find a way to keep their audience coming back and that is why understanding user psychology is so important.
My need to Socialize through Film
When I have free time I am normally doing one of two things: watching and writing about movies or browsing my social media. So where am I spending most of my time online? On Letterboxd.com or Mubi.com, two websites that allow avid cinema fans to rate movies and write reviews, compose lists of their favorite (or least favorite) films, log movies, and in the case of Mubi.com, stream movies online.
While these two websites have similar goals, they are very different in their design. One site provides a personal experience while the other keeps it simple.
How do we know we are looking at great UI design?
“In psychological terms, humans are motivated by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. That means we can be driven to do things depending upon either external factors like rewards or internal factors like enjoyment.”Megha Goyal “Combining UX design and psychology to change user behavior”
Sometimes we as users need to delve into our internal and focus on the intrinsic factors. We ask ourselves- how does the website make us feel when we explore the visuals? Is it fulfilling our needs? The best way to do this is to compose a statement.
Take for example when I visit Letterboxd.com. I log into my homepage and the first thing I notice is a slick black background. As simple as it is, choosing this dark background reminds me of the quietness of my favorite place in the world- the movie theater. It also greets me with the covers of a few of my favorite movies that I picked when I first logged on. So to compose a feeling statement for this UI design, I would say the Letterboxd.com homepage makes me feel RELAXED because my need TO RELATE is being met.
What separates great UX design?
Peter Morville notes that there are seven factors contributing to great UX design. These factors are if the product is: usable, findable, desirable, useful, credible, accessible and valuable. (Morville http://semanticstudios.com/user_experience_design/) He expresses this through a honeycomb design.
So when using Mubi.com, the website has some cool features, but in terms of usability one thing I have a hard time comprehending is why the designers put a 500 character limit when writing reviews. When writing a review, I like to give a full picture of the cinematic experience of a film. I feel that this function limits me. When composing a statement for how I feel about this website in relation to its UX design, I would say the Mubi.com review page makes me feel ANNOYED because my need for FREEDOM is not being met.
This is a very important concept for designers to look at when creating the design for a website because the details can sway a user from your website to another easily accessible competitor.
I took a deeper dive into both Letterboxd.com and Mubi.com to provide a full analysis of the UI and UX designs of both websites. The full PDF can be downloaded below.
I concluded that Letterboxd.com has a much better UX and UI than Mubi.com. Letterboxd.com reminds me of being at the movies with a dark format background and pops of color throughout. It also personalizes my movie-going experience by providing a chronological experience of my movie viewing. While mubi.com provides some interesting still shots from movies, the design feels uninspired with a boring white background and black text. It also doesn’t allow me to fully express my creativity by limiting how many characters I can use to write and not providing enough mental stimulation.
Goyal, Megha. (2019) “Combining UX design and psychology to change user behavior” UX Collective, Retrieved from https://uxdesign.cc/combining-ux-design-and-psychology-to-change-user-behaviour-39d27730434a .
Morville , Peter. (2016) “User Experience Design.” Semantic Studios, Retrieved from http://semanticstudios.com/user_experience_design/.