Judges’ Q&A: Ben Ladkin

Judges’ Q&A: Ben Ladkin

judge_ben-ladkinJudge: Ben Ladkin
Role: Operations Manager at Arsenal Broadband Limited

  1. Do you have a favourite app & website in terms of the design and user experience?

    The new Guardian apps and website look fantastic and have some great UI features. They’ve managed to make it very easy to navigate through a vast amount of content on a small screen, which is very much easier said than done.

    Also, it’s a slightly obvious one, but I would say that the UI and design for Instagram is a great example of keeping something very simple and focussed, not cluttering it with extra functionality, and thus delivering an app that’s incredibly easy to use and gains massive popularity. It’s interesting to see how tentatively they add or change functionality as a misstep could cause a big backlash and drop in users.

  2. Which industries, in your opinion, tend to deliver the worst user experiences, and why?
    Train companies seem unable to create an easy to use booking engine. You see the same ‘mixing desk’ UI across most of the train sites and whatever design they place on it, it remains fiendishly complex to choose a ticket. It may help if they simplified their pricing but I dread to think how complicated it must seem to book a ticket if English is not your first language.
  3. What has been the greatest game changer in the UX and usability sectors over the past 10 years?
    The massive rise in mobile and tablet use as well as software as a service companies such as ‘WeTransfer’ or ‘Dropbox’ have meant most people are having much better user experiences with technology at home than they are at work. As the intolerance of bad UI has grown, traditional software companies have slowly started to learn they need to do this better.
  4. What do you think are the biggest challenges companies face utilising UX?
    For us (Arsenal Broadband) the main challenge we face in other parts of the business is that UX isn’t seen as an issue. When we recently put a registration wall on our video we spent time gathering research, user testing the form and delivered a really good experience that managed to get 500k signs ups over the last year. However, there was no understanding of the work that went into the project and it would have only attracted attention if it had been done badly. This highlights the issue that when UX is done well, it’s invisible. Like refereeing, UX only attracts attention when it’s done badly.
  5. Do you have any UX pet peeves?
    The update indicator that Apple uses across its devices. Even though I only have a smidgeon of OCD it’s still important to get rid of them as soon as they appear – and wholly unnecessary.
  6. If you could have any super power what would it be and why?
    Apart from all the obvious ones, how about the power to imbue perspective into any situation? Certainly the working week would improve.