UX or User Experience isn’t exactly the creation of products/services, but instead the initial research stages where user insights are uncovered. These insights become ideas and design solutions that make products/services user-friendly, accessible and meaningful.
A lot of times, UX is perceived as a solution that comes from walls covered in bright colored post-its, complex sketches and printed designs laid out in an investigation bulletin board fashion. While all these resources are very useful for getting an overall vision of the project, what’s really important is the research that goes into uncovering user insights.
There are many forms of research, but in terms of UX some of the more common methods include: Interviews, Surveys, Card-Sorting, User Testing, Eye Tracking or A/B Testing. Check out this article by Nielsen for a more detailed look at User Experience research methods.
Almost every project is (and should be) created to meet real business objectives. These objectives can be purchases, sign-ups or even brand awareness. That’s why to me, UX design is the middle ground between the user and business’ objectives. It’s the sweet spot where both sides win.
A great example of this is Nike+, a sensor that lets users track their runs on an iPhone or iPod.The product was created based on a real user insight: Runners want a simple, inexpensive way to measure the distance and time of their runs.
R/GA, the agency behind the idea, not only found the perfect solution but took it one step further by creating an online community of runners which tapped into people’s competitive instincts. The end result was a win for the user and a win for both Nike and Apple in terms of sales and online buzz.
One of the best definitions of User Experience that I’ve come across was a meme that a friend shared with me on Facebook.
Image source: Innovative
The image says it all. User experience is about finding solutions tailored to user behaviors and needs. That’s not to say design is the opposite, instead it should be the solution that reflects the user insights.
Beyond websites and apps, user experience can be found in our day to day lives.I’ve always admired Starbucks for this. The whole experience of going in for a coffee, being greeted by your name and working away on your laptop has a lot of thought behind it.
For one, the baristas are trained to remember your name and order, making customers feel special when they go in for a latte.
If we look at the space, you might notice that most Starbucks are furnished with long benches and round tables. Why? To make customers that come in alone, feel less alone. This article talks about how Starbucks is innovating in architecture. The main takeaway is that before coming up with solutions, the brand interviewed hundreds of coffee drinkers and found that what they wanted most (even more so than coffee), was a place of relaxation and belonging.
Free wifi, was another idea that came from user research.