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The UX Concept

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How can you define something that can't be clearly defined?

User Experience is a concept. The unquantifiable theory that if a user likes a product, they’ll keep using it and the product’s owners will profit. However, it is also measurable, and has proven time and time again to be a theory that’s closer to reality and solid fact than you think.

In all situations, it makes sense. I’m not going to ask you to imagine how it might work for some case study or past example. Let’s get right to what matters most to you: how it can help you. Think of a product or service you use on a daily basis. Do you use it out of choice, or do you have to use it for your job? Do you enjoy using it, or see it as a chore? Do you use it to accomplish tasks that other products may be better equipped for, simply because you enjoy using it?

People connect with apps on an emotional level. Or a better way to put it; successful apps connect with people on an emotional level. Unsuccessful ones, don’t.

It’s a fine idea that has been grasped and implemented by all the successful companies of today. The moment they realise that what the user ‘feels’ about a product affects how much they use it, they start to make more profit and gain more users because of this consideration. It seems a simple enough idea, but because research into the field doesn’t provide quantitative data and measurable results from day one, a lot of businesses don’t see the value. They don’t consider it a wise investment. And yet, they continue to use or discard products that they don’t enjoy using just the same as their users, without ever making the connection.

If every app with no UX consideration was loaded up on a phone, and all of those phones were placed in a football stadium, they would fill the entire stadium. Twice. Compare that figure to apps with a dedicated UX team, constantly testing with users to ensure the app is meeting the emotional needs of the target market, and therefore selling better. You’d only cover the floorspace of your living room, but I guarantee you have heard of most of those apps. Why? Because they’ll be the apps at the top of their game – with a global reach, right into the hearts of their users and not just in their hands.

Startups often try to please everyone

While the biggest reason startups fail is that they create a product where there’s no market need (42%), let’s look at the other big reasons:

  • Not the right team (23%)
  • Poor product (17%)
  • Ignore customers (14%)
  • Lose focus (13%)
  • Lack passion (9%)

All of those are due to the umbrella of not considering User Experience. Not having IX knowledge on the team. Not creating a product with a good experience for the user. Ignoring the user’s needs and wants. Creating a product that tries to do everything (and does it all poorly), rather than one providing a great experience of something specific.

Let’s look at Medium as an example of a successful product. It has one primary focus: blogging. It has UX consideration. The team listened to what the users want (and more importantly need), and cut out the unnecessary in order to make a streamlined platform for ideas and free speech. I’m typing this on my iPhone, and the experience is just as easy as on a tablet or desktop, in any app or browser. Easier still than every other blogging platform I’ve used. Thank you Medium. You’ve created not only a great experience, but a consistent one – highly sought after.

We’re all users, and we all have good and bad experiences

And it’s not just limited to apps either. We encounter ‘user experiences’, whether good or bad, in all walks of life. The annoying voice at the self-service machines. The way it throws a paddy if you don’t ‘Place your item in the bagging area’, or makes you worried about being charged if you choose ‘no, I didn’t bring my own bag’. The satnav in your car, and how programming in a route can seem like a hassle if you use anything other than Google Maps. Even Siri, when you ask it to play a song and it plays the whole album of the same name by a different band. These issues frustrate us, and while they’re all small they add to our ‘user experience’ in a positive or negative way.

Take your phone for example. Why did you choose it?

  1. My friends have the same one and recommended it to me.
  2. I like how it does X, Y or Z.
  3. It looks nicer than it’s competitor.
  4. It has more technical features that I need than other phones.
  5. It was cheap / within my budget

Would you say those are in roughly the right priority order? Let’s analyse the top two. 1. Your friends love it, so they suggest you buy it. They love using it, they have good experiences with the phone so they’re advocating extra sales for the phone company to their friend, who then buys the phone as well. 2. You like how it does things. How did the company know to make the phone do those things the exact way you like them to be done? User testing. A UX specialist was able to find out not what people said they wanted it to do, but what they actually wanted and needed but didn’t know it. You only get that kind of product by considering the user experience.

A good user experience can transform an average product into a great one. It can transform a good product into an outstanding and memorable one.

Don’t let your company settle for an average product, with average profits. Don't let your product be forgotten or lost in the tidal waves of competitors. Consider the User’s Experience. Put yourself in their shoes, and create a product that you would be happy to use.