In the interest of the customer: UX as the key to success
Posted by Oleksii Zhmutskyi
What is the measure of a software’s success? Shareholders would probably answer: profits, the lead over the competition, test scores. But these are all secondary effects. Their common condition is that the users of the product are convinced by its design and handling.
What is the measure of a software’s success? Shareholders would probably answer: profits, the lead over the competition, test scores. But these are all secondary effects. Their common condition is that the users of the product are convinced by its design and handling. The user experience (UX) must be right. You can find out exactly what is meant by this in this article.
User Experience: This is what it’s all about
User experience is the overall impression that a consumer or user takes away from all personal and material contacts, also called touchpoints, with a company or brand before, during, and after interaction with a product or service. For software products, a positive UX results from the following characteristics:
high customer benefit or added value, usable information instead of advertising slogans
intuitive interface and navigation
positive emotional effect such as satisfaction or joy of use
Success factors of the user experience
The theory sounds simple: the more comprehensively and precisely user interest is incorporated into every step of product development, from needs and market analysis to optimization in live operation, the better the UX. But this is easier said than done. Here are the most important success factors:
UX-Strategy. To ensure that all stakeholders pull together and focus on customer benefits, the respective management level must also stand behind the UX principles. This is all the more true in large companies such as those in the automotive industry, which use a wide range of software both internally and in their products, from in-house and external production, and whose customers interact with such programs via a wide range of touchpoints – from websites to embedded systems to mobile apps. In order to give the UX strategy the necessary emphasis, it must not only be realized in product ideas, front ends and content, but must rank equally alongside business key figures in the form of measurable success indicators (KPI).
UX-Management. A good user experience results from the interaction of user-friendly structures, processes, and product teams. In addition to the aforementioned strategic UX indicators as organizational guard rails, this requires operational-technical metrics for quality assurance. User needs and interests are to be derived from user journeys and translated into use cases. User research and its utilization in product development are also among the tasks of UX managers.
User-centered Design (UCD). User-friendly products emerge from iterative development according to ISO standards. In order to answer questions that arise during the project in the user’s interest and to deliver a product that is suitable for everyday use, the developers repeatedly obtain feedback from the target groups in all UCD phases, from the participative-experimental needs and market analysis (product discovery) to the rollout.
User research. In order to collect meaningful data on user interests and market opportunities and to use the development budget as efficiently as possible, it is necessary to select the optimal method for each task or hypothesis and to coordinate the collaboration between researchers, product owners and designers.
Design. An intuitive, appealing system interface makes a significant contribution to user satisfaction. However, a good UX requires more than pleasant colors and catchy icons. Equally important are coherent, easy-to-learn navigation, intuitive operation, and relevant, understandable content. Thus, the design of the front end often becomes a balancing act between the specifications of the corporate design, to which customers and internal users feel connected, and creative solutions that motivate the target groups to use the site and, ideally, stimulate demand for additional functions.
The user, the (un)known entity
We develop software neither for teammates nor for the board, but for internal or external users. That is, for employees of other departments or companies or for consumers who want to achieve a goal with our product. The addressee of our work is on the one hand an individual, on the other hand a typified representative of the target group.
For some user groups, the software requirements are largely homogeneous, such as store managers and specialist staff in food retailing. Other companies interact with an extremely heterogeneous target group via their website, apps or embedded systems. For example, the clientele of a commercial vehicle manufacturer ranges from tradesmen to couriers to fleet managers. The more diverse the user group, the more difficult it is to meet all requirements with just one software. And all the more important to know all these requirements precisely.
To get started, we recommend using qualitative methods such as individual or group interviews or focus groups to gain an overview of potential users and their interests, and to collect spontaneous reactions to the product idea. Collecting quantitative data is only worthwhile later, when the concept is in place and you know exactly what you are looking for. Before you decide on an idea, prepare rough drafts of the shortlisted options and ask representatives of the target group which draft appeals to them most. First, find out to what extent your interviewees understand the product idea and its usability, especially the arrangement of the control elements. Test tools such as UserZoom help to gather user feedback quickly and in a standardized way.
Once you and the people you are talking to are convinced of a concept, test its suitability under laboratory conditions. With as few as five test subjects, up to 85 percent of any weaknesses in software ergonomics can be determined in the usability lab. After such a “crash test”, you know how you should develop your concept. If you are still fine-tuning individual design elements shortly before the first release, we recommend A/B testing. Among other things, this concerns the position or size of buttons as well as the selection and embedding of content modules or images.
To measure how your software performs from the user’s point of view in live operation, use tools such as tracking or surveys. Tracking delivers reliable quantitative data relatively quickly. However, the causes of the measured behavior, which are crucial for improving the product, can hardly be identified from such statistics. For this, you need complementary, qualitative information, for example from web surveys.
Visualize user experience
User journey maps are suitable for the graphical representation of the user experience. They trace the paths of real users or interested parties between online and offline touchpoints. The audience perceives the interaction with the touchpoints as positive if they meet the following criteria:
coordinated in terms of form and content
seamless navigation between online touchpoints
when changing the medium: effortless continuation of the previous interaction.
It is easier for the project team to identify with the user’s interest if it develops the product not for an abstract statistical target group, but for a concretized, visualized persona. A persona is a fictitious sample user, created from qualitative and quantitative data of several real representatives of the target group.
User experience under control
How intensively have you researched the needs and interests of the target group before developing your products? How often do you ask users if they are satisfied with your software? How seriously do you take the feedback? Developing software in silence has never been a good idea. The exchange with those who are to work productively with an app, a tool, an embedded system, not only protects against operational blindness. It is what makes products that deserve the title of user-friendly possible in the first place. We help you with this.
Do you have questions about UX?
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