Off course we as Nspyre also contributed to this main message in our presentation “closing the gap between consumer and industrial experience“. This blog post is the first in a two part series. The first post wil focus on the why and what around the increased importance of user experience. The second post fill focus on the how of creating great user experiences.
This years user interface design online seminar communicated a clear message: user experience design becomes more important in high tech and industry. Compared to previous years this third edition had more focus on the software side of user interfaces besides the purely hardware focus on touchscreens and mechanics.
So why does user experience become more important in industry? One of the reasons is that products and systems grow over time. Each release offers new functionality for the user, most of the times within the boundaries of an already familiar user interface. However over time the concept behind the user interface may get lost behind all the added features. This may lead to a decrease in usability even when new relevant functionality is added at the same time. Companies are trying to find a balance between adding new capabilities and keeping the familiar. This balance can not be held forever with the same user interface design, sometimes bigger redesigns are necessary.
The explosive growth of data, driven by trends like internet of things, sensors and machine 2 machine communication also has impact on the user experience. The whole purpose of gathering all this data is to use it in a meaningful way. This means that the user needs to interpret the information and transfer the insights into actionable steps to make the required improvements. The design of the user experience can guide the user in this process.
A last reason for the increasing need for good user experience is the increasing gap in user experience of consumer products and user experience of products in the work environment. Most users have experiences in both environments and take their learnings from the consumer environment with them to the work environment. Think of trends like “bring your own device” and “new ways of working”. Users become more aware of the impact a bad user experience has on their emotions and productivity. The voice of the user begins to sound louder in the work environment.
Now we know that UX becomes more important, but what is user experience?
According to the ISO definition user experience is “A person’s perceptions and responses resulting from the use or anticipated use of an interactive system.” Basically this means that user experience is the sum of all experiences a user has with a product, ranging from before using the product, to using the product to after using the product. So an order confirmation send after ordering something from a webshop and the package in which the product arrive are both part of the user experience.
The main aspect that ensures a good user experience is when the interactions with the product are aimed at the specific users and tasks. Although this sounds very straightforward it becomes a challenge when te same product is offered to different user groups. Think of a fruit sorting machine that is used both by small farmers with limited computer experience and in big food organizations with specialized operators.