4 UX Design lessons Universal Studios taught me

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” ~Milton Glaser

It is not just about magical spells, adorable minions, or gigantic Dinosaurs. Universal Studios is also a source of guiding star & motivation for UX designers.

From the moment you cross over into a Universal Studio theme park, you can feel the magic in the very air. You get immersed in the phenomenal experience unlike any other. You garner a sense of what you are about to delve in right from the moment you wait in the queue. Comic posters from your favorite superheroes line the columns and screens play episodes of Simpsons and Spiderman.


With each queue, you can get deeply immersed in the respective cartoon. For instance, the outside of the Despicable Me queue is a replica of Gru’s house, playing videos of the minions, while the inside mimics his house with one-of-a-kind décor down to the last detail. If you’re in a line for ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ experience, you can get breaking news from the ‘The Daily Bugle’, while the queue at E.T takes you to a serendipitous forest, where you are surrounded by all the sounds of nature. The story begins in the queue itself; the ride is just a cinematic climax.

Say Cheese & charm your users

Dropping from a height of 50 feet, at a speed of 60 miles an hour, is surely a memorable experience and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to capture it. In every roller-coaster ride, you take, you’ll notice a bright flash clicking and taking your picture. At the end of every ride, you can buy your picture from a gift shop. Here they make you relive the thrill from different angles and the hysterical family photos will surely make you jump with joy.

However, when you factor in the exultant prices, in addition to the over-priced food and souvenir tees you had already paid for, you start wondering if you really need those pictures. You smile takes a down flip, but you content yourself with snapping a shot of your pictures on the screen, only to have a park employee nip your happiness in the bud!

This is exactly what most websites do! For instance, a plethora of resume-building tools let you craft your resume at absolutely free of cost (apparently).  Only after you break a sweat entering all your professional and academic information, you come to know that you are entailed to pay a monthly fee to save or access your resume!

While trapping customers may initially boost your conversion rates, such a terrible user experience will make them wary of your business. It works in the long haul when you are upfront about your intentions from the word go. Offering transparency from your first interaction with the client would go a long way towards building your popularity.

The Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster isn’t All that incredible

You wait out the interminable queue with thriving anticipation, you reach the counter and your jaw drops at the exorbitant prices. You take the ride anyway. You receive a t-shirt & free food. But then comes the real disappointment.

We Develop websites which are Creatively Elite & Methodically Unique

First, the ride is not all that exhilarating. You’ll notice it within the first few minutes of the ride. All that glitters is not gold. You came here for a memorable experience but end-up splurging an arm and a leg and memories of a terrible experience.

Let’s just not name anyone, but we all know that some media agencies take all your personal info and not just that, they make you fill out long forms before you can avail their service.

From a user point of view, this is quite exasperating. The UX Designers needs to understand that before you ask for anything big, you need to give something to the user. An experience which can become the talk of the town. A mesmerizingly jaw-dropping design which can make them feel special.

Stealing is not always a smart move

If you’ve visited a theme park, you might have noticed the layout of the park. In general, it is like a wheel and spoke layout. Somehow, people always end up at some gift shop or other after every ride and buy something that caught their eye.

As a tour guide in a park, I’ve noticed that most of the people turn right when entering a park, but in universal studios, you’ll have to contend with a snaking queue if you enter from the right. Instead, if you turn left at the entrance fork, you’ll be able to escape the bottleneck and be able to take all the rides with fewer waiting times.

This is a splendid example of how design people often stick to “what everyone else is doing” or the so construed “best practices”. You have to venture into unexplored territories if you are looking to deliver the best possible experience to your users. If you want to set a new trend, you have to take a leap of faith in product design if you have a great idea. The best practices can sometimes deliver bad user experiences. Don’t be a stick in the mud!

Iteration is The Key to Success

When ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ was first launched, it was a total chaos; the seemingly-never-ending bouts of planning, the need to throw away pre-planned processes and think on our feet to re-strategise constantly, the ability to switch between tasks and refine them daily until the excitement died down! For instance, we had to design a new queue structure when the number of visitors far exceeded what we could safely accommodate in the building. We had to adjust on the go to offer a polished user experience for each new wave of patrons.

UX design lessons

This taught me to be flexible and keep updating your website design as per the requirement of the users. No amount of preparation can set you up for anticipating all the issues that the end users would come across. You must be able to leverage data and iterate as needed to polish up your processes on the go.

To conclude at all

The design is learned. The design is all about solving problems. It’s a process of constantly finding problems and creating solutions for them. If you’re struggling with your UX Design, let us help you craft a beautiful design for your website. Contact us!

Josh Davidson

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