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A still image from the movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in User Experience with IxDA and General Assembly

By Elevate

March 23, 2017

Culture Design

Last Tuesday, March 14, 2017, we attended an IxDA panel discussion, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in User Experience, at General Assembly. The two groups brought together four experts in UX/UI to share and discuss what they think are examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly in user experience. Since it was a snowy, cold night in Chicago, we took notes for those who had to miss it.


  • Bill Welense — Fjord, Senior Interaction Designer


  • Ethan Smith — PowerReviews, Design, Innovation, and UX
  • Danyell Jones — kCura, UX Architect
  • Ace Ujimori — Elevate Creative Group, UX Designer
  • Michelle Dash — Isobar, UX Designer and Project Manager

Good User Experience Examples

A good user experience doesn’t always mean good aesthetics.

SpotHero (Ethan)

  • Location-based experience.
  • There is a moment of anxiety when you’re checking out because there’s no receipt or follow up.
  • Connection of online and offline world could be linked more smoothly. What should happen in person isn’t always clear through the online experience.

Starbucks (Danyell)

  • Helps you get something you want right when you need it.
  • Reloading money is very simple and avoids frustrations.
  • The app is so successful that sales in stores are down, causing Starbucks to reconfigure stores to accommodate.

Ignite (Ace)

  • Philanthropic group to create world-changing experiences for companies and employees.
  • They needed a workforce and revenue to help communities, so they created a system for companies to send workers to do the work and bring in revenue.
  • This is a good example of service design, but the online experience could use work.

Helm (Michelle)

  • Simple visual funnel with a very clean and clear mission.
  • Step-by-step process to help you determine your vacation.
  • There is fine detailed attention paid to micro interactions benefitting the overall experience.
  • Similar to a good checkout experience.

Virgin Mobile (All)

  • Seamless experience between desktop, mobile, and app.

Bad User Experience Examples

An experience that hinders or harms the user.

Laundry Pods (Ethan)

  • Laundry pods that look like candy, so a lot of kids play with them and try to eat them.
  • The design seems to ignore harm for the sake of convenience.
  • The packaging is changing to prevent children from getting into them, so they are learning from the initial bad experience.

Ventra (Danyell)

  • The overall experience is disjointed and confusing.
  • Cannot transfer balance from card to card.
  • Cannot cancel a card.
  • Cannot easily check card balance.

Gate 1 Travel (Michelle)

  • The main purpose is to sell travel, but it does not allow you to search for specific requests.
  • Can only search by month and by one region at a time.
  • Not a clear way to plan.
  • Should allow for more filtering and offer suggestions.
  • Email subscription seems to be the highest priority according to hierarchy.

Ugly User Experience Examples

Usually a functional experience but not aesthetically pleasing.

City of Chicago (Ethan)

  • Information architecture based around representing departments rather than working for the user.
  • The URL does not match the purpose. It should be .gov rather than .org to avoid confusion.
  • Functional, but it could look more updated.
  • Compare and contrast Chicago vs. NYC websites. NYC is more user-focused.

Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association (Danyell)

  • This is ugly and bad.
  • It’s hard to look at, and it’s not very functional.
  • Hard to navigate; links even change names on hover.


  • It’s so ugly that it’s a very memorable website.
  • Handheld (Ling defends her site) (Michelle)

  • This is very ugly but extremely functional and helpful.
  • Access and answers to all of your questions.
  • Holds a similar function to that of Craigslist.

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