The UI that we design exists within the ecosystem of all the applications that people use everyday.
By definition, a good UX happens when a user can figure out the critical action items without having to struggle.
We have to remember that all UX is learned. There is nothing natural about it. A drop-down, double click, shift + click, drag and drop… you learned all that. So the only intuitive things that exists for users are design patterns and conventions that have been used over and over again.
When we design, we really have to ask our selves if this new convention that we’re about to establish in our app is worth the learning curve. More importantly, you have to realize when you are effectively pushing a new convention. Or that there is a convention already established for something like this.
A new convention should never be pushed into an app unless the currently massive library of conventions forced into a user’s workflow by millions of applications everyday cannot support the actions that we want to make available to a user. If you are still going to push the new convention, make sure it’s really worth it for them. Don’t tax them because of your laziness.
It would be cool to do an article on the different levels of conventions. From ones that have been grandfathered in and the new ones that starting to become natural.