Rose Cox

Website & Portfolio

When given the chance, users will solve their problems first

AI generated image

If users can solve their usability issues with their own customization, that is exactly what will happen.

Some examples of user customization in action:

  1. Browser extensions: Browser extensions are commonly used to modify the user interface and add functionality to web browsers. For example, extensions like Dark Reader enable users to switch to a dark mode interface on websites that don’t natively support it, reducing eye strain, especially in low-light conditions.
  2. Web Accessibility Extensions: A subset of browser extensions, web accessibility extensions can help users with disabilities or specific accessibility needs to customize websites and make them more accessible. For example, OpenDyslexic can modify the typography of web pages to improve readability for individuals with dyslexia.
  3. Video game mods: In the gaming community, mods or modifications are often used to alter the user interface or add new features to games. Players might create mods to improve usability, enhance graphics, or introduce new gameplay mechanics not originally included by the game developers. Mods for games can completely overhaul the user interface, making it more intuitive or customizable according to player preferences.

These examples show how users can leverage extensions, addons, or modifications to tailor user interfaces to their specific needs, preferences, and pain points.

Does that mean our carefully curated designs are useless? Definitely not. It means that we must be just as adaptable and consider these from the beginning of the design process.

What can we as UX designers learn from this?

First, in a market where users can easily switch based on comparable offerings, an intuitive and good user experience is a big differentiator. The ability to make designs personalized and customized can offer a superior user experience and fit the tool to the user’s needs.

Second, accessible design is not only good design practice, it is the right thing to do by our users. Browser extensions like NoCoffee or Figma plugins like Color Blind can simulate visual impairments and color blindness to help designers better visualize and empathize with what users are seeing.

Third, being able to customize the experience is fun and can add to the enjoyment of the activity itself. There are communities of mods and modders for every game that allows it, for example NexusMods, which was founded in 2001 and has billions of downloads for its user-created content. The ability to change a product to users’ own preferred look, color, or layout can greatly increase loyalty and longevity of products.

So as designers, we should not be too enamored with the exact look of what we have designed. Be open to the idea that different people want different things, and a great design is also one that accommodates differences.