"The true values of UX" by WIDE
Carine Rivière, UX Designer at Wide Switzerland takes a few minutes to share with us the « true values of UX ». Learn more about this expert’s point of view.
Even though the concept of User Experience (UX) is now familiar to most clients, it is sometimes not understood correctly and not all its benefits are totally seized. Amongst the various assumptions on UX, we are often confronted with the following:
« Your job is to position buttons, menus…? »
UX is too often reduced to design and interface ergonomics, but it reaches way beyond. Of course designing the screens with which the user is going to interact represents a major part of our job. But before reaching this stage, we need to discover who the users actually are and figure out their needs. This is where our veritable added value lies – when we meet with the target users to understand their real needs in order to develop the most efficient solution.
« I am not fond of green buttons, could you change them into blue? »
Indeed, we design user experiences. But this has nothing to do with design in the sense of “aesthetics”. After having identified the users’ needs, we formalize the architecture of the information, and we design processes and drafts for the main screens. We ensure a seamless, consistent and efficient experience both for the user and the business. We make sure, for instance, that everything is set for an e-commerce website to actually generate sales, or for an employee of an insurance company to create a contract in a minimum of clicks. The look and feel which is, of course, a key component of a project, is handled by our creative teams in charge of UI.
More than a methodology, a state of mind
User Experience or UX corresponds to the emotions felt by a person when interacting with a website, a service or, more generally, a brand.
As UX designers we can address some of these emotions thanks to ergonomics, recognized best-practices and also to our professional experience. However, there remains some aspects that we cannot control and which depend on the end user: who is he/she, what are his/her needs, in what context and in which way does he/she interact with the service…?
This is why we carry out a user-centric design process. Derived from the ISO 9241-210, the UX methodology consists in 3 main steps
1. Research & ideation:
- Identify users and understand their needs
- Gather information on the performance goals (KPIs)
- Analyse the market and competition
2. Collaborative design:
- Determine and design the architecture of information and navigation
- Create a draft of the product/interface using a prototype.
- Test the product with end users in order to enhance the prototype in an iterative manner.
However, UX methodology is more than this. In order to deliver the best results, it must be part of a much more global collaborative process. Being in line with this approach requires an in-depth review of project management processes. This is where the concept of “state of mind” comes into play as it is the whole production line that is impacted.
At Wide, we put in place a multi-disciplinary team each time a project is launched, which then collaborates closely from start to finish. Thus, strategists, creative designers, concept designers and technical experts work together throughout each stage, always placing the user and performance at the centre of all discussions. Our clients are involved in this collaborative process and also participate in the numerous steps of the project.
“None of us knows what we all know, together” Euripides
Ok, but what do I get from this?
It cannot be denied that when one has not yet experimented UX, it can be challenging to figure out its added value. Listed below are a few examples:
1 – Having veritable certitudes rather than pre-conceived ideas or making assumptions
Done with distorted truths! By searching for information at its root, we ensure that the recommendations we make are relevant.
During one of our projects relating to the creation of a mobile application enabling employees to enter the days they worked, we carried out some user tests prior to its development. These tests enabled us to discover that the users were reluctant to enter each day worked while it was more efficient to enter non-worked days. These tests enabled us to avoid a potential rejection of the application.
2 – Optimize project costs
Mistakes have a cost! Detecting them in the early stages of the design process enables many mishaps to be avoided at the end of the development stage.
« If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design » - Ralf Speth – CEO of Jaguar
According to a research study, this approach which amounts to approximately 5 to 10% of the global cost of a project, enables 30% of development costs to be saved by ensuring that the development is launched on solid foundations. It costs less to avoid a mistake downstream thanks to UX work than to let the mistake occur and then address it at a later stage.
3 – Enhance the performance of solutions
By focusing on the end users and their needs, we can ensure the efficiency and performance of devices.
During the design of an application for document management for an institutional client, we were called on to study the way employees worked, and how they handled and exchanged documents. Some of them were in paper format and this caused certain issues such as document loss, and too much time for filing and transferring documents between employees. Based on these findings, we set in place a workflow, an efficient and less time consuming filing processes.
4 – Advice on change management
Closely linked to the collaborative processes, client teams and user involvement encourages buy-in.
For many projects and in particular for the re-design of the website of an institution, we applied the participative design methodology. This approach consists in involving a group of end users in the design of the tool. In this specific case, it was the copywriters who updated the website on a daily basis. While the users were initially reluctant to this change, thanks to their involvement, they finally embraced it and ended up even recommending it to their colleagues.
5 – Reduce training and support costs
The ultimate Holy Grail for an UX designer is to achieve simplicity. A qualitative design will therefore have a significant impact on cost reduction.
Indeed, if the business application has been designed in an ergonomic way and based on the users’ features and needs, it is likely that it will not require heavy staff training. The same applies to support costs. It is for instance possible to decrease the amount of incoming calls at a call centre.
From interface design to experience design
At Wide, the UX approach is at the root of our agency services and we apply it to all the issues addressed by a digital agency.
This approach is naturally used for all our technical solution projects ranging from an institutional website to an e-commerce platform, a mobile application or online services solutions.
But it can also be extended to projects where it is not necessarily expected. The user is always the cornerstone of all reflections, be it a strategy for a multi-channel communication campaign, an activation campaign for a product launch or even the production of content to update platforms.
Our role is to design seamless experiences which make sense for those who experience them and boost the business of those who implement them. Experiences which do not hinge on assumptions but which materialise needs that have been suggested or clearly stated by the users. Experiences which are spread and leveraged across bespoke ecosystems. It is a fascinating role requiring ongoing questioning as it stands at the crossroads of sociology and technology.