If you study UX for long enough someone will eventually introduce you to Lings Cars, probably with a smile on their face and a comment about how dreadful the site is.
And it is a truly amazing site, full of colour, animations and the odd chicken. If you have not already seen it go and take a look, I will wait.
It is only recently that I have started to wonder if Lings Cars is as dreadful as I keep being told, after all she states that she is the favourite car leasing site in the UK.
Firstly I have never tried to lease a car from her site. All my assumptions have been based on the UI (User Interface) of the site, and yet I am always having arguments about how UI is not UX.
When you use the site, while there might be flashing arrows and funny pictures, she is also very clear about how much it will cost you, the fact that the image is not the actual car you will lease and what happens when you click ‘order now’.
In fact she seems to be doing the opposite to all the dark patterns I have ever read about, making her site feel much more trustworthy than some of the massive corporations out there with their slick white sites. What you see, really is what you get.
Secondly, and this is the thing that really got me thinking, who is this site really aimed at?
I have recently been reading articles suggesting that western web design is very different from web design across the rest of the world. For instance while we like our white space and an uncluttered feel to our websites and design in general, Japanese websites tend to look more cluttered (to us) because ‘Japanese customers [...] prefer to see everything on the first page’.
Not knowing who Lings main clientele are I cannot say if this is a factor in the design of the site, but it would not surprise me if there was not some sort of cultural influence.
As a UXer I should always start with who my customer/user is. Maybe Ling is not aiming for us westerners at all, maybe she is aiming at some of the other cultural groups who live with us, and for who this site might make perfect sense.
I think it is time to stop being rude about Lings Cars and to start showing people that there is more to UX and web design than they think. With a lot of companies working on a global scale now, culture is just as important a factor when designing sites as the design style.
And we should remember, UI really is only a tiny part of UX.