Unpredictability and Design



We are unpredictable beings. Evolution has made us this way, there was always a danger that had we been predictable someone or something would have taken advantage of us. Unpredictability has been good for us. Unpredictability also has become a fundamental part of our cognitive system.

What does our innate nature of unpredictability teach us about UX design? I don’t know who said it, but it seems apt. “Great designs prepare for the unexpected, as well as the ideal”. I believe we end focusing quite a lot on the ideal. And lose focus on unexpected. When done right these scenarios help users get users out of a deadlock and bring a WOW factor to the design.

Done with extensive user research? Have lots of insights on user behaviour? So far so good. Let’s start designing.

For example, using OTP(One time password) to help users login/register quickly has become a common pattern. Done rightly, it is one of the smoothest experiences you create for your users, however, we have encountered several apps getting it wrong. We have seen users struggle. Users don’t know what to do, they quit and uninstall the app immediately out of frustration. Post login, all interactions, and visuals were awesome but what is the use when the user does not even reach there.

What could potentially go wrong with something as simple as that?

Fair enough, genuine question, let us think of a use case which requires the user to enter their phone number and email address and lets a user register in an app, we will keep asking ourselves what if questions at each step.

The user enters their email and phone number and an OTP is sent to their phone number. (Because business wants to validate the phone number)

Some questions:

Certainly, the example I presented above does not happen often(And many more small hiccups like this) but when it does, it makes the entire user experience take a backseat. And the end result is frustrated users. It is okay to miss some of these, but avoiding these is easy. All we need to do is put a little more thought to our user journeys.

Thanks for the submission.