The role of Anti-UX design

Generally we think of UX and usability in terms of easy, in terms of conversion and flow of users through a website experience, most of the time we want this experience to be smooth and seamless as possible, striving to have as few barrier as possible to the goal we strive for. We talk about sales conversion funnels and removing steps or making actions more obvious. We talk about gamification and setting feedback loops to encourage action.

But there’s also another way to look at UX, we can break the rules and literally do the opposite of what are the general principles. It sounds crazy, but ultimately UX is a tool, that tool is designed to help improve towards a desired result. But depending on the desired result, good UX can be a bad thing.

Allow me to explain.

One of the companies we were working with was getting loads of unqualified inbound leads that required call-back to screen at the time the lead form was simple and designed to encourage user sign up, there were telephone numbers comfortably placed and easy for users to see. The problem was that their call teams were inundated with people simply exploring options instead of people ready to commit to a purchase. the filtering and qualification wasn’t sufficient, even though best practice principles of UX were adhered to.

So we removed the telephone numbers, the lead form had qualification questions designed to filter irrelevant leads. and of course, results improved, we saw a drop in irrelevant leads and an improvement in work efficiency for call staff.

Going into the details, as a specific example, many of the unqualified leads were calling asking for discounts on packages listed on the site, they were chancing to see if there was cheaper inventory. so we did 2 key things –

  1. in marketing messaging we removed language around price and instead focused on language around value
  2. on the lead form we added a drop down – this was a key ‘anti-UX’ step since it disrupts the user journey and adds an obstacle, this drop down asked the user what their budget was and excluded budget options that were below what the company was willing to service (another ‘anti-UX’ step since not all options are catered for), the exclusion of some budget options meant that if the users option wasn’t available they would be excluded- in this way we were deliberately increasing drop-off, and in so doing, conducting an ‘anti-UX’ initiative.

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