Last year was dubbed the year of user-centered design and it looks like this trend is continuing into 2016. With this in mind, let’s strive to find new and innovative strategies to keep our users engaged.
Which experiences would you want your users to have, and which ones would you hope they didn’t? Let’s take a look at some new UX strategy to provide exceptional experiences for our users.
No matter which UX-plane you work on, the principle objective of UX is to create the best conditions for users for them to be able to complete their tasks in. Yet with so much focus on this, it still seems that even the most usable user interfaces are sometimes not enough to engage users. We know that if we want to understand the reasons behind what drives users to behave in certain ways, we need to look at what determines the process of initiating and performing these behaviors.
Psychologists say that we are motivated both extrinsically and intrinsically. We can be driven to do something either by external factors, like the prospect of receiving a reward, such as money or recognition from peers, or by internal factors, such as the personal enjoyment of doing an activity. So, can we prompt changes in user behavior to the benefit of our service? Maybe so, but wouldn’t it be better if we were creating experiences that are right for our users, and not the other way around? Here’s our two cents:
If we want to provide a design solution for our users, we must understand their profiles: where they’re coming from and what motivates them to use a particular product or service. Only by gaining a deeper insight into our users and how they might interact with our product will we be able to create an interface that guides the user’s actions along the right path for them.
Journey-maps and user flows are the bread and butter of UX design. So why not consider customer experience maps and user stories too? When it comes to these tools, the key is to define assumptions, and observe, refine, and repeat the process until we have a better understanding of the user. Successful UX is about making assumptions and then testing to validate. So, after looking into the customer’s experience as a whole, we should then be able to create all-round pleasing and usable experiences for our users.
According to Psychology Today: “Priming is a nonconscious form of human memory concerned with perceptual identification of words and objects. It refers to activating particular representations or associations in memory just before carrying out an action or task.” So how can this improve UX? Well, if we look to the beginning of the UX process, priming can subtly influence the user’s decisions. When used appropriately, it can guide the user to take the best possible path inside a flow, as well as help them save time and minimize frustration along the way. Of the several elements that function as primes in the mechanism of UX, these are the ones we find most interesting:
Think about priming patterns that your competitors use whenever you carry out your research and analysis. Common sense tells us that knowledge is power, and simply knowing how you compare gives you more control and freedom when defining your product or service. The fact is that more people than you probably realize use priming. If you can take apart similar or existing primes that influence experiences and solutions that you know work, you can use this to inform the direction you take when building a new experience.
And remember, we’re all different. Different user profiles respond to different factors, thus personas should be taken into consideration when using primes. For instance, it’s possible that a young, tech-savvy user might connect the prime CHROME to the term GOOGLE, while more senior users might react indifferently to it if they’re not familiar with the term. It’s important to know your audience and adapt your priming to them, because their characteristics play an essential role.
In our recent post on Customer Experience, we explain that when we focus singularly on the customer, we forget about the people who build the service. It is for this reason that we believe Employee Experience is also necessary to make customer facing experiences truly effective. But what if we went one step further? What if were to shifting our thinking from customer–employee experience to focus on the human experience. Why don’t we stop trying to design screens and interfaces, and start designing experiences?
When it comes to Customer Experience and Employee Experience, the equation only contains the customers and employees. Service Design goes a step further, including not only the customer and employee but also the stakeholders. In today’s age of designing complex and intricate services and products, there are a lot of different people who work to make these things happen. Shouldn’t they all deserve to have a great experience? We think so! Of course, everyone’s experience is bound to be different, but we think that the secret is to include, rather than exclude.
When you build your service with consideration of the overall network, satisfaction will grow. Taking care of the customer creates happier customers. With happy customers, the customer-employee relationship grows, and employees will also be happier, and productivity will increase. Improved productivity concurs to satisfied stakeholders, and happy stakeholders are more willing to help. And the cycle of happiness repeats itself.
When it comes to transitioning from an imagined design to what you’re actually building, hunkering gives you a chance to envision the reality of your design. Whether plunging head-first into a design or working off sketches, the transition from ideation to realism doesn’t always go smoothly. Visual disorientation, or hunkering, is a fast way to identify where things don’t quite match up. In its simplest form, hunkering is a chance to force a moment of visual disorientation — to make things seem foreign and out of place in order to ultimately make them right, and better. When it comes to UX, we can put this technique into practice as digital hunkering. There are always moments when we put pen to paper, stylus to touch screen, or mouse to prototyping canvas, and the design just doesn’t hold up in the ways we need it to. It can be disorienting. But once we’ve disoriented ourselves, we can then propel ourselves to observe and render our designs as necessary in order to improve them. Try to think of your design in the final format, from the user’s perspective (always keep your users as the focus way before you start designing). Imagine they are looking at the product and thinking “what isn’t right?” What is the experience you would want your users to have and which one would you rather they didn’t? If you go through this process, you’re already half way there.
It’s a curious thing, hunkering, but it’s also a crucial tool for UXers. Tap into it and you can prevent downstream errors, as well as envision the end result more clearly.
Every year UX Designers give their nod of approval to a new usability metric, and in 2015 that metric was simplicity. 2015 was the year of simplification and linearity, certainly for apps and services. We learned that users truly enjoyed the systems that brought them features such as narrowed in navigation menus, and compartmentalized interactions. But there’s more to it than that. As UXers, we know that over simplicity doesn’t necessarily result in greater usability. As a consequence, we’re now witnessing a pushback from users against these linear experiences. Let’s face it, users don’t want to be herded from one screen to the next like sheep. After all, as humans, we’re not linear. We’re a story telling, innovative species! And, as UXers, we’re trying to understand our users’ stories so that we can then craft a custom experience, tailor made for the needs of each user. As advocates for the user, and we should be delivering the UX that users will need, not just what they want.
The future is about engaging the user with maximum agency over their experiences. So, this year, let’s honor the intelligence and creativity of our users and design for de-linearity. Users need more paths to navigate through, more decisions to make throughout each process, and more varied ways to complete each touchpoint. Pleasant experiences at each touchpoint make for an all-round enjoyable customer journey. After all, as they say, happiness is a mood, a condition, a journey—not a destination.