Over the last year, we have observed several trends that significantly impact how we understand, design, and validate user experience. For example, the simple act of sending an email has a carbon footprint. This is why it is imperative to design with ethical principles that seek a common good and prevent the harmful effects of technological ubiquity. Furthermore, users increasingly crave a feeling of disconnection and not feeling bound to the digital world. This poses a challenge with respect to understanding, validating and designing user experience.
Table of concepts, techniques, and research dynamics with users to ensure a memorable digital experience in the Digital Experience Research Centre, everis Living Lab. Source: everis
The digital component no longer constitutes the center of an experience and is gradually transforming itself to become an invisible layer that integrates physical and sensory experiences with digital interaction. We can illustrate this concept with today’s voice assistants that can dial phone numbers, shop online, or look up information on websites by the means of voice commands without the need of touching a screen.
Research firm eMarketer estimates that 36 million individuals in the US will use a voice assistant such as Amazon Echo or Google Home over the course of this year. Voice assistants are extremely popular in the age group of 25–34, and this includes several young parents who engage in intensive search to determine new ways for interacting that involve less screen time for children. Image credit: Google
Users increasingly value solutions that are meaningful and respect their time, attention, and privacy.
It is the responsibility of user-experience designers to incorporate an ethical approach and examine the design process closely to guarantee that solutions are created to respond to real needs and place human value as the focus of innovation.
Designing meaningful and lasting experiences?
In order to design meaningful experiences, it is necessary to start by gaining an in-depth understanding of our users, their behaviour, and their needs. It is also important to base the experiences on design standards, policies, and business models that are aligned with our values.
Examples include examining how Facebook uses billboards to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against fake news and how Uber uses television advertisements to position itself as a company that is committed to a common good. However, it is necessary to ask whether these campaigns will succeed if they are only based on rhetoric but do match the reality of a foundational change in their business model and company philosophy.
A challenge for designers is to ensure that users can achieve their goals with the products and services that we design.
User experience is complex and a 360º vision is required to gain a more comprehensive understanding. Insights or revelations that guide the design process arise from thick data, which is a qualitative approach that provides an understanding of why and how. It is necessary to complement the qualitative approach with quantitative data by using big data technology. Finally, the 360º vision is completed by using wide data, which specifies users' expectations while comparing experiences between products and services, and segments and market trends.
This panoramic vision enables us to reformulate and understand the problem and determine innovative solutions that adapt to business requirements and provide a competitive advantage.
Three levers for designing human-centered technology:
- Place yourself in the user's shoes
Individuals seek products and services that respond to their needs and are less tolerant towards products that only partially solve them or inspire a low level of confidence in managing their privacy and time.
In order to address the experience in all its complexity and to identify latent needs, techniques derived from ethnography, user-centric design, design thinking, and service design are used to aid in exploring, defining, designing, and validating the solutions.
Design is aimed to solve problems although its first purpose is to discover what the problem is and the optimal method to solve it.
The everis UX Research team recently conducted a study with young individuals from generation Z to understand their perceptions of and relationship with banking. The results of the study indicated that generation Z individuals are significantly influenced by the post-crisis context although they are born as digital natives. Hence, this corresponds to a pragmatic generation that is insecure. These findings contradicted the assumptions and initial hypothesis that defined them as an adventurous and purely digital generation. The reality leads to direct implications for designing digital banking solutions aimed at this segment of the population and includes focusing on transparency and constant support, fostering a sense of security, and control by the user.
Excerpts from the report ‘Two sides of the same coin Generation Z Banking and personal financial management’. Source: everis
2. Ensure co-creation and sharing with users and stakeholders throughout the design process
User experience teams have involved users in the design process for years without understanding how to intentionally convey the value and importance of active participation in designing the final solution. With respect to involving users, customers and colleagues, it is important to avoid evangelising about the process. It is important to convert them into prescribers having experienced the process first hand.
Dynamics of co-creation with stakeholders and real-time observation in the Digital Experience Research Centre, everis Living Lab. Source: everis
Over the years everis has worked on projects, specifically for the public sector, which have demostrated resistance to change highlighting to the importance of involving stakeholders throughout the process. The initial resistance can be overcome with empathy when the impact of decisions on an end user is made visible and verbalized. An example of this corresponds to real-time observation of the reactions, fears, and barriers that are expressed by users with respect to a change of habits or paradigms in their work routines.
3. Design thinking about the long term and the impact we have
It is essential to base the design process on methodologies that address it in a comprehensive and iterative manner such as Design Thinking and Service Design. This avoids designing fragmented experiences and creates coherent solutions and ecosystems that solve needs and last over time.
Illustrative image of a user's travel experience. It is essential to consider the 'before, during and after' interaction with a product or service to generate memorable experiences
Finally, let us talk about you. What digital products and services do you use the most? What makes these experiences enjoyable? What would you change so that they better suit your needs? Tell us how you would do it!