A buzzword: User experience – how to approach it in a technical way
A buzzword: User experience – how to approach it in a technical way
Technological and scientific progress permeates every aspect of our lives, and ever more activities are being simplified and automated by the use of digital tools. Strong catalysts for this progress in the automotive sector are infotainment systems, by which media playback, vehicle customization, management of information from sensors, and much more are possible. The development of technology and society has gone hand in hand with the development of mobility, on a global scale. And one of the benefits produced by the development of technology is the increasing importance of the human element. Whether we are talking about products or services, nothing today can ignore the careful design of its human and experiential side.
After all, from conception to design, from production to marketing, from packaging to showcasing, from sales to after-sales service and support, the common thread that binds every phase of a product or service’s life revolves around the so-called “user experience” (UX or User Experience).
Framing User Experience in a general sense is possible by understanding it as a set of traits or elements that are expressed in an individual’s interaction with a company and its products-services; this encompasses the wide range of perceptions, attitudes and emotions that people may experience before, during and after the enjoyment of such product-services.
While the user experience has first of all highlighted the centrality of the individual to the product-service by laying the groundwork for new trajectories of study and research (including in academic research), secondly it has prompted the need–from a market perspective–for continuous improvement of the user experience through meticulous engineering; such constant and gradual refinement and improvement occurs through an “analysis” of the ideal user (by carefully identifying appropriate “personas,” or “model users” of a product-service) and specific needs of the individual (“user needs”) using that service.
User experience analysis, a multidisciplinary activity, facilitates the delineation, examination and substantiation of hypotheses that the various departments involved in these practices advance during the various reiterative phases of codesign that aim to refine the user experience throughout the lifecycle of a product-service. In this sense, UX Research is a key enabler of audience definition, which highlights shared values and principles that unite a particular set of users. This is where the strategic role of UX Research emerges: users’ shared goals must be matched with a set of content, and its tone, focus, as well as its particular means of communication is outlined in the so-called Content Strategy. A content strategy that meets the set objectives and generates expected results enables the generation of a significant and highly positive ROI, stimulating a significant virtuous cycle for the product and, consequently, for its positioning in the target market.
If achieved with marked flexibility, user experience research can effectively guide product development, polarizing the decision-making choices that can ensure the success of the product-service, justifying its continuous improvement and appropriate development. Underlying a good user-experience research strategy are the following elements:
1. Understanding user behavior: clear understanding of the user-experience from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives;
2. Use of empirical values: a practical and detailed view of the target user-experience to be designed and experienced by the end users of the product or service;
3. Creation of a business model: a model of the commercial outcomes of the product including its costs;
4. A well-considered timetable: a roadmap with clear milestones and priorities detailing the UX from the initial design to the final product/service;
5. Tracking and evaluation: monitoring and measuring the progress of the project, to accurately gauge the success (or otherwise) of the UX, following in incremental steps the evolution of the product/service and the experience it provides.
Structuring a good user-experience search strategy enables the identification of an appropriate information architecture for the product-service. Information architecture is about the organization of information; it has to do with findability, the construction of pathways of purpose and meaning; the information architect structures the semantics by which the product is expressed. Information architecture is firmly linked to contextualization of use: in the context of a Web site, information architecture will be critical in enabling customers to find products, manage their digital shopping cart, place orders, or simplify the purchasing process; in the context of infotainment system, information architecture simplifies the search or filtering of useful information and the subsequent skimming of meaningful results for the user; in the context of a physical museum, exhibition, or of a mobility system – think of a subway, a rail network, a bus network, or in an airport – information architecture makes relevant and important information more easily accessible, thus making users’ lives easier by clearly indicating directions, facilitating movement, and providing support. This is all the more so when the individuals are in critical, hurried, or emergency situations. We infer from this that information architecture has a deep correlation with intuitiveness, contextual meaningfulness, and enables the user to orient themselves in a digital or physical environment regardless of where they are. Information architecture is about organizing and simplifying information, designing and integrating information spaces or systems; it is about designing the ways in which people can find, understand, exchange, and manage information. Information architects not only design individual information spaces (websites, software, applications…), but also information ecosystems that integrate heterogeneous media and channels.
Properly organized information is the key step in being able to provide proper UX and it goes through interaction design. This step involves the proper design of products and services with attention to the way users interact with the fully developed platform. This approach focuses on the user, who is placed at the center of the design. The main purpose of Interaction design is to create products or services that enable the user to achieve his or her goals with ease and in the best possible way, facilitating the interaction between humans and the machine (or digital platform) thereby making the enjoyment of the services and systems offered more accessible. The designer, therefore, has the task of making services and platforms more easily usable by the the individuals for whom they were designed and created.
At the end of this long process, it is necessary to design the visual qualities of a product or service that have to be aesthetically pleasing, and not only that, it is necessary to measure the quality of user experience during interaction with the product.
The evolution of the technological process has radically altered the approach to UX; the user experience has become the nexus between people and technology and, at the same time, the lever of change in digital tools. User experience has thus become an approach which is today considered indispensable to design and that incorporates direct user feedback throughout the development cycle of any product and service.
To ensure you don’t miss out on our updates, keep following us on our Linkedin page.