By Paritosh Chhibber on 22 November 2012
Paritosh Chhibber, a member of the User Experience Functional Excellence (UXFE) team at KPIT Cummins shares his experiences with UX (User experience) methodologies, specifically on why keeping the end user in mind is essential to innovation and technology development.
“If we keep you satisfied, you will keep us in business”. This clever restaurant sign got me thinking, that the notion applies outside the food/hospitality industry as well, especially to industries like ours where we design competitive products and serve the needs of our clients.
Products are not designed to fail. Yet, sometimes they do. This happens more often than not because products are designed without consciously being mindful of the end user and the context of use.
Every product that is designed has various types of goals such as customer goals, business and organizational goals, technical goals etc. A few examples of such goals might include retaining customers, gaining an edge over the competition, offering more features and services, being cross-browser compatible, using a particular development language/library and maintaining consistency across platforms. However successful products are those which meet the user goals first.
User goals are present at various levels and relate to things such as how a user wants to feel, what a user wants to do, and even who a user wants to be. Keeping the end user in mind, always, is something that is not esoteric, but completely elementary, and unfortunately usually forgotten, unless conscious effort and time is spent, I realized.
Albert Einstein once said that you cannot solve a problem on the same level it was created at. Applying his wisdom to our context suggests that to create successful products, we need to think at a level higher than that of (creating) a product. Just what level are we talking about?
If one thinks rationally and approaches the problem in a different way, viewing it not through the lens of products and features but instead in terms of people, activities, and context, it’s possible to start gravitating towards designing experiences rather than products.
If you take closer look at most contemporary advertisements, you realize that what is being sold is not a product but an experience packaged into it. Advertisements for the iPhone and other Apple products serve as good examples.
User experience (UX) is how a person feels when interacting with a system. A system can be a website, a web or PC based application, an embedded system, a car or really anything which offers scope for a human to interact with it. In technical terms, ISO 9241-210 defines UX as “a person's perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service”.
UX Design is a design discipline, just like communication, industrial or interaction design.
Where does the UX design process start? So far, while designing user experiences, I was fortunate to dirty my hands with Building Personas, Identifying User goals, Creating User journeys, Creating Prototypes, Conducting User Testing Sessions to name a few UX methods. Most of this is done much before the product’s interface comes in. I must say that I have come to the realization that UX is not just about “developing good screens”, or in our usual terms “Developing GUI”, but to take a holistic approach about user’s needs, motivations and feelings with reference to the context of use.
Having worked with a few project teams, I would like to share an important thing that I learnt.
When to invest in UX design? – Well, a Chinese proverb sums it up quite nicely. “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”
It has been a great journey so far and I look forward to more exciting learning experiences. Thanks for a patient reading. I’d love to hear from you.
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