User experience design, for several people, means creating interfaces that are easy for users to understand and navigate. And this thought is correct, but it isn’t what lies at the heart of good user experience.
User experience design is a major focus of the business community, and for very good reason. A major reason for the attention is due, in part, to the success of Apple. In some cases Apple has re-defined the marketing landscape and companies are scrambling to stake their claim.
Apple has taught many companies that selling on features is not as effective as selling on good design. While other MP3 players are sold based on their storage capacity, Apple sold theirs on how it empowered customers by putting one thousand songs in their pocket.
Many companies are realizing that just adding more features won’t make a product or service sell better. However, providing a better experience will.
Whether that experience is how the product looks and feels in your hand, or the details of the customer service people receive, user experience design can transform how a customer feels about a product. However, even though many businesses understand the benefits of user experience design, they usually start from a completely different direction.
The wrong train of thought
Many companies that are focused on user experience design are asking how they can make their products or services better. This is the wrong approach. Its like saying I have this item that people don’t like using, so how can I dress it up so people want to buy it.
This way of looking at an issue is only going to lead to superficial changes. If you take this view when designing a website, you might try to improve the site’s usability and make it more visually appealing, but if the content doesn’t address user’s questions it will still be a failure.
Even before a product is designed, there is one question that must be asked. What problem do you plan to solve for the customer? The product or service needs to start with the goal of empowering the user, not just making an existing product or service more appealing.
For example, Amazon Prime makes customers feel they can receive anything they need almost instantly. iPhone makes users feel like they can stay in touch with the whole world whenever they choose.
User experience design should help solve user problems and help them to achieve their goals.
In the past a company would create a product or service and if people needed it they would buy it. This is no longer the case. Few companies, with the exception of tech companies, have people with a design background on their team.
Today, with so many competitors only a click away, it is vital that the product or service is carefully shaped around the users needs from its initial conception. To do this, a company needs people with the authority to shape the products and services that are being sold.
Most of the time we approach our websites with the attitude, we have these messages to communicate, how can we persuade users to view them.
Even when we are trying to create a website that users will want to use, we still think in terms of the content or functionality that users will supposedly want.
We hardly ever ask ourselves what users ultimate goal is or what problem they are trying to solve. Rarely do we think about how we can make the user feel empowered. We hardly ever look at the website to see how it fits the bigger picture of what we are offering customers in terms of products or services.
If we are going to adopt the principles of user experience design, it is crucial for us to focus on what problems we are solving for the users.