Engaging the End User to Stay Ahead of the Game: A Blog from UX

user experience words written by 3d hand“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” (Victor E. Frankl).

Users’ behaviors and attitudes are changing, and end-user technology is moving ahead at a rapid pace. The rules of technology engagement now favor the consumer. The end-user is in the driver’s seat, and we need to cater to their needs. To do that, we need to understand our users, and what they deem as critical in an application, while remembering that advances in technology cannot replace a first-rate user experience. With users now choosing to interact with technology from many different types of devices, we need to ensure that the experience is engaging, consistent, and memorable, in order to provide outstanding user satisfaction.

So, how do we do all that?

In the upcoming weeks, this blog series will attempt to explain UX in more detail and how to improve the customer journey using the example of a self-service application. My name is Zulfikar and I am the Lead Principle User Experience Designer at LANDESK UK. I have been at LANDESK for a year and six months.

So what do you know about user experience?

Many people think that a good user experience is defined by merely having a nice-looking interface. Unfortunately, this is not the case. This post will help you consider user experience principles and ask yourself some all important questions.

So what is UX? User experience (often shortened to UX) lies at the crossroads of art and science, and requires both acute analytical thinking and creativity.

User experience design (often shortened to UXD) is a discipline focused on designing the end-to-end experience for a certain product (usually via digital interfaces), and enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product. The result of that work should be measurable using metrics that describe user behavior.

UX design draws on knowledge and methods that originate from psychology, anthropology, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design and cognitive science.

There are several factors that affect the overall product user experience which a UX designer needs to consider. These are:

Usefulness: Is the product useful, with a clear purpose?

Usability: Is the product easy to use, navigate and interact with, requiring little need for guidance?

Learnability: Is the product simple to master quickly with minimal instruction?

Aesthetics: Is the visual appearance of the product and its design appealing?

Emotions: Are the emotional feelings evoked in response to the product and the brand positive, and do they have a lasting impact on the user and their willingness to use the product?

In the field of UX, we examine users’ needs with a series of contextual methods known as a User-Centered Design (UCD) methodology. This is a framework that enables us to engage with, and listen to, our users to determine what they want. This allows us to consider users’ needs up front and throughout the design and development process, in order to ensure that the final product is well-received.

We’re led by user needs (desirability) as a way of driving the creation of products and services, but this is counterbalanced by feasibility (can it be done?) and viability (does it make sense to the business?). Users don’t have all the answers and each user may have different needs and requirements.

Once UX has gathered insights, the job of assessing overall feasibility and viability must be reviewed with respect to what the business is capable of delivering. The most successful product design balances user, business, and technological needs; therefore, taking a UX approach requires an understanding of a business landscape that is broader than the project we are engaged to deliver.

Design thinking is an overall process that consists of rapidly coming up with ideas, testing concepts, and getting feedback from real users, all while refining the approach.

Adopting this plan of attack enables you to pull ideas together quickly, make informed choices, evaluate and review ideas with others, and gather feedback early and often from the product’s end users. This helps ensure success. Rather than the user simply dictating outcomes, it helps designers to think about the problem at hand, and allow ideas to evolve through the stages of the design.

Now you hopefully have a general understanding of what UX is all about. Next time we’ll cover more about usability and how to improve the customer experience.