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When being useful is not enough

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I’m sitting at a cafe’, Pret a Manger.

My monthly subscription gets me 5 drinks per day and I usually spend my mornings working here.

As I was looking at their menu online, I couldn’t help but notice their brilliant filters on the category pages (is this a UX nerd fetish?).

You can try them yourself on the left hand side of the page.

What I like about them?

They are useful.

And well designed of course. But could be better.

In particular their “Suitable for” and “Made without” selectors.

I have vegan friends and I feel their pain every time they have to order at a pub. So I imagine being vegan or gluten intolerant and stumbling on this.

It’s one of those weird things people in the industry like myself do, I guess. Visualizing yourself as the user, getting in their shoes and mindset (as much as possible).

When it comes to very specific needs like these, usefulness needs to be the focal point of your design. There’s one problem with usefulness though.

Sometimes making things useful introduces redundancy.

And redundancy is the enemy.

How I would improve these filters?

For starters, when I select suitable for “Vegan”, I would hide eggs, fish, milk etc. from their “Made without” filter.

No need for me to see those right?

And also, that “Made without” list is way too long. Useful yes, but redundant and long.

Add a search field at the top, so I can quickly narrow down to what I don’t want in my food or drinks.

And so on…

The lesson here?

Don’t limit your design to “useful”.

Make the useful more usable, too.

It’s about the subtle and thoughtful (and sometimes hard) decisions.

Decisions you can only get to if you know your audience better than they know themselves.

Need help figuring it out?

Get in touch.

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brain dump?

Every week I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

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