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 our customers use our products or services they are not under the same pressures as we are. They are on their own journey, and our product or service is there to help them on that journey. The product 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 (even in Zoom meetings). 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 UX research, observing your customers using your product in a moderated environment, help you to witness the experience people have, understand their reactions, and empathise with their situation. If you can sit back and watch, and absorb, without over thinking it, this insight will encourage your own clarity.

This time, however, you’ll have the evidence to support your Eureka moment, and hopefully you’ll recognise it and trust in your intuition to make the right call.

And that is why UX Researchers do what they do. To provide the insight, perspective, and direction. They are trained to make these observations and deliver findings and recommendations to guide you to the right solutions. But you can gain even more from user research.

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’m positive that you’ll find 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

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