A few years ago, one of YouTube’s product leads was giving Lady Gaga a private look at some proposed UX revisions. Lady Gaga was visiting Google to be interviewed and was a YouTube power user. The team had mocked up a few designs – one of which that had a “premium” style look.
Immediately, Lady Gaga stopped the product manager and said, “No, keep YouTube looking shitty.”
Gaga elaborated to explain that, as a community product, it was important that YouTube didn’t lose the authenticity of the product in an effort to upgrade the look and feel. A creator or fan needed to feel like their “fingerprints” could be left on the site and that the site would be different for their participation. Incrementing a view count, commenting to a creator, “liking” a video, leaving a response – all of these features were meant to increase the feeling of accessibility and engagement and to allow folks to feel “I WAS HERE AND I MATTER.”
Keep usability separate from shine. And, remember who or what you are optimizing for. Thanks Lady Gaga.
Looking “shitty” isn’t an excuse for poor design but it is important to remember that product design is about producing emotion and spurring actions. Product designs optimize for usability and not how they look when framed and hung on a wall. – Hunter Walk
Source and thanks to: VC Hunter Walk’s blog
(The 200 words project involves sharing a story from a book/blog/article I’ve read within 200 words)