Many of you have been seeing the term “User Experience” surfacing with increased frequency on many of our projects. Some of you may be wondering, “…just exactly what IS this thing called User Experience?” My goal is to shed some light into this mysterious yet essential role in today’s software development.
What Is User Experience?
"User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products. The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want, or providing checklist features. In order to achieve high-quality user experience in a company's offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.
*Definition by Nielsen Norman Group
User Experience (also known as UX) encompasses several disciplines: interaction design, information architecture, human computer interaction, human factors engineering, usability and user interface (UI)/visual design.
These roles can be broken down into two competencies:
A UX Researcher will typically come from a cognitive psychology or human factors background. A UX Researcher formulates research plans, conducts studies (both in a lab and in the users environments, also known as ethnographic studies), gathers the data, analyzes it and recommends follow-up actions. This is done working closely with a UX Designer.
The UX Designer is typically involved at the earliest stages of product development. Everything from the product strategy, business goals and aesthetic aspects are taken into consideration. The UX Designer will look at many factors in a products design including but not limited to: ease of use, aesthetics, efficiency, processes, and performance.
What User Experience is Not
There are a lot of misconceptions about what UX is, but here are some things that we can definitely say it’s not:
- UX Design is NOT the same as UI Design. UI Design is focusing on one element of the overall experience.
- UX is NOT a simple checkbox in a process. The user experience process is an ongoing and integral part of any product. It’s something that we need to keep iterating on and improving. It’s never done, even after we ship.
- UX is NOT just about usability. Usability is but one aspect of the overall experience. We want to make products that users embrace and find desirable, but is not our only goal.
- UX is NOT one size fits all. Every project and situation will be unique and have it’s own special problems to solve. You can’t take a canned approach that can be priced the same across all projects.
- UX is NOT a choice, it’s an imperative. In order for a product to be successful, you must factor the overall experience your users will have in the end. We can write the best code and solve the most complex problems in the world, but if in the end the users can’t use it, don’t like it or don’t perceive the value then we have ALL failed. It takes EVERYONE on the team to create a solid user experience.
There are many ways in which you can engage with UX at Teleca.
Sales: From initial bid proposals where we can partner with you to help tell the Teleca UX story and what we can offer our potential clients, to helping forge a solution and wireframe concepts to use in a proposal. Please feel free to engage us as part of your pre-sales business development and strategy efforts.
Project Management: From the moment you have a potential project, please bring us in to discuss how we can help with requirements gathering, defining business objectives and proposing design solutions for our clients. We can help you get clearer timelines and milestone dates for your project based on current projects in the pipeline and estimated deliverables for the client.
Developers: We are here to work with you in an iterative way throughout the lifecycle of the project. If you have a question, or something just doesn’t feel right and you need a sanity check on some element of the experience, please feel free to ping us.
While this article certainly doesn’t cover the gamut of services we can provide as part of the user experience, I hope it sheds some light on how we can help make every project at Teleca a resounding success for our clients and us.