Ian Howard

Ian Howard

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A Cocktail of Painkillers and Vitamins - Adding Positive Complexity to Your UX

Look through UX blogs, guides and conferences and you'd be forgiven for thinking that what humans crave more than anything else is simplicity. Words like seamlessness, frictionless and even userless are thrown around as if the sole objective in UX is to create the ultimate in utilitarianism.

Well Ian doesn't agree. Research shows that people like their Ikea furniture more than their other furniture specifically because they had to work to put it together, because it wasn't easy. In fact, Ikea even optimise their instructions with a focus on not making it too hands-off, knowing that the amount someone values the end product is directly correlated to how much effort they've had to put in to get there.

But when it comes to website experiences, we seem to have forgotten that the journey is often just as important as the destination. As the great travel writer Paul Theroux states so frequently in his writing, the journey can be the destination. So why are we so focussed on moving people from A to B, rather than seeing the journey as an opportunity to build brand engagement.

In this presentation Ian will use examples to bring to life that complexity can be a positive. Giving people a challenge, allowing them to problem solve and tapping into the innate desire to explore and discover can turn a utilitarian user experience into an authentic, differentiated and engaging brand experience. He'll go through ways that brands can introduce positive complexity.

UX may start with the painkillers, but the real gold can be uncovered by adding vitamins to the mix.


Ian Howard

Ian Howard
Chief Strategy Officer and Partner at Little Giant
Auckland, New Zealand

Since moving to New Zealand from his hometown of London Ian has held strategic leadership roles at TVNZ, digital agency Young&Shand, Maori Television and most recently as Head of Strategy at Interbrand. He now leads the strategy development at Little Giant, an independent ideas-led agency in Auckland. He brings to the team extensive experience in creating growth-focussed brand, marketing and digital strategies for some of the biggest companies in New Zealand.