Recognise noise to improve UX clarity
by Ali Carmichael, Managing Director and Owner

It is said that Archimedes, on stepping into a bath, noted the water rising as he lowered his body and thus discovered the law of hydrostatics. As legend has it, he then leapt from his bath and ran through the town, naked, shouting “Eureka!”

What is beautiful about this story is that many of us have Eureka moments when in the shower or bath. These awakenings, whilst not related to water displacement, seem to come from nowhere, but can provide simple answers to complex or challenging problems.

In this world of data and complexity, how can you access more moments of clarity when designing or improving your digital products and services?

Recognise the noise

Our lives are filled with distractions. On top of this, there is so much ‘advice’ at our fingertips. This advice is also at everyone else’s fingertips. Our colleagues, our peers, our bosses, and their bosses, all have advice at their fingertips.

When your product or service isn’t quite performing as well as it could, or when your project hits a stumbling block, ideas come at you from all angles. Your team, your agency, your friends, your mentor, the Board. The current trends, the latest technology, the new competitor website. It becomes impossible to see the problem for what it really is.

With all this noise, the obvious and simple route becomes clouded and over complicated. There are plenty of online tools seemingly promising to solve these problems for you. When in fact, most just add to the noise.

Unfortunately, even if you are blessed with a Eureka moment in the bath, chances are you won’t recognise it.

Graphic to show the 'noise' our projects suffer

There is plenty of input vying for our attention, and our decision

 ‘Facts’ are the default

We therefore turn to the numbers and the data, and we invest in ‘proven’ technology. Anything that allows us to justify a decision on something we can’t see for ourselves.

This makes sense when much of business today has evolved from the Industrial Revolution, which was led by the smartest thinking engineers. Traditionally, engineers love fact, and exploring facts in a way that opens new possibilities.

For many, this is just the way things are. It is a given. People are so used to the noise it has become a fact of business life. What happens is that we lose trust in ourselves (without realising) and add layers that get in the way of our natural state of flow.

In reality, the challenges most of us face don’t require engineers, and the answer is often staring us in the face. If only we could see it.

Simple, is hard to grasp

When your customers use your services they are not under the same pressures as you are when you create them. They are on their own journey, and your service is there to help them on that journey. It therefore needs to work intuitively and deliver what the customer needs. The concept should need no more explaining. It is simple.

Even the most human centric of teams will struggle to see clearly from a customer viewpoint. From within your organisation, you will be influenced by that which is around you every day. If you were able to look at your products and services devoid of the noise, you will see how simple everything should be.


The rewards of qualitative/UX research will help you to witness the experience your people have and empathise with their situation. If you sit back, watch, and absorb this new insight will encourage your own clarity.

This is why UX Researchers do what they do. They provide insight, perspective, and direction. They deliver findings and recommendations to guide you to the right solutions. However, the true beauty, if you allow it, lies with your own instinct, which is now better equipped to guide you.

So next time usability testing is taking place, don’t just wait for the report to be delivered. Go along, take your team, and watch the tests and get involved in the conversation.

I promise you that your Eureka moments become more frequent. Just be careful when leaping out of your bath. And remember to grab a towel on your way out to the street!

UX Consultant Matt Fisher

Let’s Chat

Shine a light on the highs and lows of your user’s experience. Reveal quick wins for today and a user-centred way forwards for tomorrow. Let’s talk.

01202 293652