Meet two Heinz Ketchup bottles. The contents inside are identical, but their skeletons are very, very different. One is an artifact of our past and can be quite impossible getting any of America’s #1 condiment onto your plate. This is designed for the product. The other is made of plastic allowing users to squeeze that ketchup out with ease while keeping the goods collected down low for an easy exit. This is designed with the user in mind. Design is the intersection experience and functionality.
This painless user experience, that required countless hours of research and collaboration, when done right, is invisible to the user. With an increased focus on UX, industries are now dedicating entire teams involving: researchers, information architects, interaction designers, content strategists and visual designers, who are collectively aiming for exceptional UX, as seen with the ketchup bottles, as the main objective. What was once considered a checkpoint in the process has now taking it’s proper position as a vital aspect of successful business.
The first of many phases is research. It is the first building block of product design and development. The researcher’s job is to build a target for design and development. This includes identifying the intended audience, analyzing market competitors, understanding client expectations, identifying points of friction and gauging user perceptions through user interviews. UX research allows team to identify product inconsistencies and user frustrations.
“Great UX is like an ongoing conversation; it builds momentum and changes directions, however it must flow or it feels chunky and awkward.” Leah Hacker, Data Scientist, Accomplice
Knowing your audience is key in identifying what your conversation should include. Researching user responses to your competitor’s product provides an advantage in identifying potential pain-points and pitfalls the market has experienced–a perspective many researchers fail to consider. Identify successes and failures, learn from others and find your unique position within your market.
Next, the design phase involves problem solving through creativity. Understanding who this product is being designed for is paramount here. After the content is written and the trends researched, the design team can effectively architect solutions based on the building blocks handed to them. The foundation laid in the previous phases equips the designer to build the correct solutions for the users unique needs.
A good user experience is fundamental in order to create an effective product that allows users to flow forward void of friction. This is where user testing comes in. Allowing users to experience the product and analyzing the flaws helps the team see what the user actually needs. A user no longer expect to fumble their way through your product in order to accomplish their goals. The bar has been set much higher.
“It is only by walking in the digital footsteps of your customer that you can uncover a new landscape of opportunities for engagement as well as a new reality for your business.” Brian Solis
Heinz finally did their research, read their reviews and tested the pros and cons of their designs, using this process to improve their product. By making these necessary changes, they have crafted a superior user experience. This type of exceptional customer service is the most effective form. it’s faceless. Building a product properly removes the need for antiquated face-to-face service. Products should be intuitive, engaging and beneficial. They should be true to the brands they serve. A user’s experience should be intriguing and simple, and if it is not, we have failed.
Finally, this last point cannot be understated. Post launch iteration is necessary and important. The team can benefit from user feedback and reviews and make necessary revisions from there. The cycle of iteration is continuous (even the most elite brands, Facebook for example, are still refining and updating their product years after launching). This is not an afterthought, this is part of a comprehensive plan to continue providing ideal customer service through excellent user experience.