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Beyond Aesthetics: The Role of UI/UX Design in Modern Product Design

May 13, 2024
Beyond Aesthetics: The Role of UI/UX Design in Modern Product Design

User Experience and how we know it has changed dramatically in the past decade alone. If we look at some of the biggest household brands and products we know and love, what used to be an in-person product experience has now become all-encompassing. 

From designing websites and applications to improve the user's experience of a product to ensuring that a product is palatable across platforms is just the tip of the iceberg when looking at UI and UX.

There is a perception that UX is just about the visual aesthetic of a product, when in fact there’s so much more depth. Data, customer behaviours, preferences, and trends all contribute to the success or failure of a product. 

Humans have become so much more tech-savvy, thus more knowledgeable of what they want (and expect) from a product nowadays. Consumers can spot what a bad campaign or website looks like whereas 10 years ago this may have not been so apparent. There is also a ton of competition, each industry is booming with options, so products and brands that put the customer first will be the ultimate champions.

We’re going to use McDonald's as a core case study, as they’re a key example of a brand that has been able to progress with the times and provide a great customer experience across the majority of its products.

Let’s start at the beginning

Mcdonald's was founded in 1940, and since has grown to have more than 36,000 restaurants across 100+ countries. They started seeing real growth in the 80s and 90s, and it was said that “a new McDonald's opened somewhere in the world every 5 hours”. 

Despite receiving scrutiny and backlash in the early 2000s for paying lower wages and “contributing to obesity”, McDonald’s continued to prevail, introducing new menus, developing new products and ultimately, taking on feedback from the end consumer. 

How McDonald’s adopted technology for their products

Before the age of the internet and technology, McDonald’s had gained popularity through word of mouth, newspapers, and consumer sales shooting through the roof. But, to keep momentum (and stay ahead of the competition with other fast-food chains) McDonald’s decided to invest in ways to keep customers engaged in a digital world. Since their introduction of McDonald’s Monopoly in the 80s, they ensured that the customer experience offline (in-person) and online could be replicated. 

Now, they’ve engineered country websites to operate in a way that talks to the consumer beyond global promotions such as McDonald's Monopoly. For example, the ‘McDonald’s” app in the UK is called “My Macca’s” in Australia, taking into account the slang that customers in each country use. 

Menus have been changed to accommodate what customers in each country want to eat, whilst still keeping core products like cheeseburgers and fries accessible for all. For example, McDonald’s in Indonesia offers rice and fried chicken as a meal, whilst McDonald’s in Japan offers Bacon Potato Pies and burger buns made from crispy rice. 

Beyond the product

Beyond products and how they’re marketed, McDonald’s are experts at creating a unique user experience for each country's website whilst honouring its core design principles.




The importance of UX design lies not just in its visual or interactive elements, but in its deep-rooted connection to human cognition and psychology. You can see just from these three country websites exactly how McDonald’s has tapped into this. 

Not only is the experience tailored to the user based on their location, but promotions, specific products, and even language/terminology are altered. This has been achieved due to McDonald’s having established markers to measure customer behaviour, as well as market research to test products and make them palatable both in-person (and online) for consumers.

So, what’s the future? 

We believe that the role of UI/UX design is going to continuously evolve. With AI becoming a key part of everyone’s lives, it wouldn’t be bold to assume that AI is going to influence UX and make experiences even more personalised for the end user.

Personalization has always played a role in enhancing user experiences. With the advent of AI technology, it has reached new heights. Through algorithms, AI can analyze amounts of user data like browsing habits, preferences, and interactions to offer tailored experiences.” - UX Planet

What do you think?

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