July 7, 2021

UX the Foundation of Agility

 

 

 


My experience tells me that IT industry has some huge problems!


First, there are many products for a lot of money that do not make sense. Do not meet anyone's needs do not solve anyone's problems. Therefore, nobody wants to use them. As the classic says: 

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all"

 

Second, products are created that solve the right problems in the wrong way. Their solutions are wrong or they are just hard to use.


Third, products are created that solve the right problems in the right way but are not "sexy" in the eyes of users. For some reason, users don't feel excited while using them.

All these 3 problems are addressed by the so-called User Experience. Although I must say that this is an often confusing concept. Many people hearing User Experience mean User Interface, and this is only a part of the truth! UI design is included in UX, but UX is a much, much broader concept.


User Experience AKA UX is: "the user's perception of and response to a product, system, or service". This includes usability
But UX is also, or above all emotions and a person's attitude towards using a particular product, system, or service.

As emotions have already appeared here, you can see that it is a very difficult field. What raises positive emotions of one user may not be liked by another. And as it is with the emotions - very often they change in time. Someone may be bored with the product, someone may get angry with the product because he does not understand how to use it.

To create products that meet the needs and expectations of users there are many different activities within UX.

 

#1 UX Research

Never, ever assume that you know anything about your users' needs until you confirm it. You may also be very surprised by how users use your application. That is why UX Research means a lot of work to understand users.

UX Researchers do declarative research such as interviews and surveys - they find out what users think. But also they do behavioral research, that is research on user behavior.

For example, they observe how often particular parts of the application are used, they may create so-called Heat Maps. They can observe how users cope with particular functionalities. They may also use A/B testing.

A/B test is an experiment on users which they are not aware of. It consists of creating a feature or a web page in two variants. Some users will see feature or page A and some users will see feature or page B. And you can compare on the basis of a study of their behavior, which is better.  For example where they stay longer on the page or where they click more on ads.


Remember:

"Users say one thing, do another and buy a third."

Don't trust their words! To build the right product you need to study how they behave! UX research often touches the level of business strategy and business vision. Allows for early validation of many business hypotheses. A good researcher can save us a huge amount of money.

Scrum framework verifies business hypotheses by releasable and usable software - it is very expensive!

And such a UX researcher can show us that the product does not make any sense before we write even one line of code.
For example by doing proper research on the market or our future competitors.

 

#2 UI Design

Another important area is the widely understood "Product Design". Desing on the visual level, the distribution of information, interaction with the user. It is about designing what the user receives as a product, in the case of a website, it is about designing exactly what the user sees and clicks on. It is not only about the aesthetic appearance of the product - it is only a small part of the success.

You also need to ensure that the user can easily find what is important to him or her. So that he or she could easily do what "is right"!
For example, buy an item on eBay :)

Often the aim of UX design is to evoke desired emotions in the user, to make him or her emotionally attached to a product or a service. To create emotions that help users make the "right decision". For example, customers that afraid that they will lose occasion are more willing to rent a room on booking.com.

Design is a real strategic game. I once saw a screen of a website to buy airline tickets ad I said to myself, what a poorly designed website. It is difficult, you have to search for everything, maybe not so much that it discourages me to use it, but still users waste time.

Later UX Designer explained to me that since they introduced the current layout, people are clicking on ads twice as often - not bad at all!

 

#3 Usability Testing

Another area of UX is the verification of the usability of the product we are creating. That is, whether what we have created is actually used as we wish it to be. It is worth testing how our product is used by different groups of users.

"If one person has a problem with your product, this person has a problem.
 If two people have a problem with your product, you have a problem!"

Sometimes it may be worth making some changes after validation. You know, something like inspection and adaptation :) Usability testing is a brilliant feedback loop.

 

#4 Prototyping

The next UX area is very much connected with previous ones but I decided to separate it because it is so valuable. It is "prototyping"

There are different methods of prototyping. Such a UX professional is sometimes able to create a prototype from paper and get feedback before we even start development. It greatly increases the likelihood that we'll do the right things. And let's face it, paper prototypes are really cool!


 

As you can see UX is quite a broad topic. Usually different people working in different areas. Sometimes there are additional sub-specialties in each of these areas. I have made some big simplifications here but remember one thing! If someone tells you that he or she deals with UX in the application, don't say something like: "Oh you are the graphic designer". I once said that to a person who actually was a UX researcher. He was angry with me for the next two weeks!

UX in its broadest sense is very valuable in product development. It is worth taking it really seriously. Let's take for example company like Apple. This is a company where UX is part of its DNA. It is in the first place for them and it gives great results.

A year ago I replaced my iPhone with the latest Huawey which is in every possible technical way, two generations better. However, I must admit that I simply do not like it, I miss my old iPhone! Tell me what brilliant minds must have created the iPhone that people have emotions towards their phones! This is amazing!