I read a great article the other day with the analogy that getting UX right is like walking a tight rope.  I agree wholeheartedly. In my opinion, bad user experience starts when a programmer has decided how the user should do something, but the user wants to use the program a different way.  Good user experience allows for flexibility.  The point is –don’t be too rigid.  Just like walking that tightrope, if you keep it too rigid, there isn’t any wiggle room.  One thing I’ve found is that people need wiggle room. 

You have to remember that there is always more than one way to do something and you have to be able to anticipate the perspectives of your different users and what uses they may need to have for your product.  Keep in mind that not everyone is going to use the system the exact same way.  Allowing for flexibility will ensure that your users won’t lose interest and give up.

Obviously, you don’t want to have the opposite problem and be so flexible that there is no rhyme or reason for the way things are set up or run.  Your user is then going to get lost in the lack of order.  The key is balance.

When we’re talking about bad user experiences, programmers who decide exactly how a user should be doing something ranks at the top of that list.  One big component in creating great UX is looking at things from every perspective and understanding that the way you do something isn’t the way everyone is going to do it.  What if the only way you could eat an Oreo was by taking a direct bite?  No twisting it apart, no milk dunking, no frosting eating, etc.  People do things differently.  Give your users more than one way to reach a solution and anticipate their needs.  Otherwise, you make the list of awful user experiences.

It is not a one size fits all experience.  What have your favorite user experiences been?  Those positive experiences should influence the way that you develop things for your users.  What kind of flexibility do you look for?  What kind of rigidity drives you nuts?  If you try to dictate exactly how every user uses your product, they are going to have the same gripes.

Have an example of UX that is way too rigid or way too flexible?  Comment below!