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What is user experience?

a couple enjoying looking at the new technology

The more I read, the more complicated user experience seems to be—perhaps your thinking the same? The good thing is, it doesn’t need to be made complicated.

With all the buzz around the term ‘user experience,’ its become rather challenging to understand. I am going to discuss and define what the ‘users experience’ is, in its purest form — back to the basics.

First thing first, as so many of you who read this blog are design students or professionals, let me start by saying this…

“A designer does not solely determine the user's experience.”

No matter what field you work in; marketing, content strategy, data science, design, development etc. You must all work through the lens of a customer.

There must be a seamless connection between the different disciplines to achieve a high-quality user experience. The entire business should be focused on having a deep understanding of the users, what they need, what they value and their limitations.

It may be tempting to only think about parts that help communicate what you want people to know (great product) and what you want them to do (purchase). But you’re not focusing on the people that interact with your business — your focusing on yourself.

What value is an excellent user interface design with trash content? It may look great, but it serves no purpose to the user. Every touchpoint of your product or service combines to give the overall user experience.

“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products” NN Group

Ultimate success comes from aligning the business goals with the user’s experience. The business goals define company objectives and direction; most focus on making or saving money. The user experience is ensuring users discover the value in what you are providing to them. Below, I will share with you the 6 factors that influence the user’s experience.

ux process illustrated on stairs

Six factors that influence the overall user experience.

 

1. Findable: If you cannot find the product or service, you not going to buy it. The product and content must be easy to find online.

2. Accessible: The experience needs to be available to all users with a full range of abilities—including people with disabilities, hearing loss, impaired vision, learning difficulties etc.

3. Usable: Simplicity over complexity—the website must be easy to use.

4. Desirable: Communicated in design through branding, imagery, identity, aesthetics and emotion.

5. Credible: Getting a second chance is slim. There is a whole internet full of competition. The user has to trust your brand and believe what you tell them.

6. Useful: a website needs to tell a story that addresses user problems, how to solve it, and how your product can help. Don’t talk about yourself; add value.

 

User experience is not design

The user experience is not ‘design’, its a process. If the six factors above aren’t acknowledged by all the teams working on the project, then the overall experience will suck.

• If there is no research, then who are we are designing for?
• If the designs were good, but the developer doesn’t understand the rationale behind the product, then it’s likely to have flaws.
• If the content doesn’t address the user challenges, the user won’t return.

The process of diagnosing the problem should get discussed without out design consideration. It is SO important to get to the root of the problem first, and then you can start prescribing a design solution.

 

Summary

In a nutshell, the user experience is a collection of activities that you primarily do on a digital device to add value to the users. It includes everything from research, defining the problem, customer profiles, design, development and test. You can read my five key phases of the user experience design process.

But, whatever you are doing, always focus upon the people that intend to use it. Whether you are creating a service, product or business structure, you should always think of all the people. The most effective way of doing this is to define a fixed set of goals and expectations before any design solutions are even discussed.

Everything is interconnected. By diagnosing the right user challenges and prescribing the right solution will inevitably improve the overall experience.

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