Think about the technology that you enjoy using most. What are some of the key features that help make your experience great? Do you get a quick response when you click something? Is it laid out in a way that is intuitive to you? You’re likely unable to pinpoint any specific aspect, you just know that it works. Successful user experience feels like this.
The science behind user experience
A surprising amount of intelligence is baked into a great user experience (commonly referred to as ‘UX’). The science behind it ensures the engineering is both intuitive and strategic. Every aspect of the user interface (‘UI’) is also evaluated from the perspective of a potential user. Does it function as expected? Do elements interact appropriately and are they laid out logical? This evaluation is often achieved through a process called ‘user acceptance testing’ where the product is tested by everyday people prior to being launched.
User experience encompasses these basic principles:
- Discoverability – the ease with which a user can navigate the system for the first time
- Efficiency – optimization of repetitive tasks and minimization of workflow distractions and interruptions
- Performance – sound interface responsiveness and behavior when a user performs an action
- Familiarity – utilization of familiar framework, patterns, and symbols to aid in quick user adoption
- Delight – simplification of complex information or actions to streamline the user’s workflow and make their life easier
These basic principles of user experience have largely become universal in the technology you see today. Like highway systems and signage, users can easily adapt to new interfaces which are built using these fundamental elements.
Why companies should invest in UX
Apple’s business philosophy was built around empathy for the consumer. Every new concept revolved around providing solutions where none existed. And by truly understanding the end user, they transcended being creators of products or solutions. They dictate the needs of users in the marketplace and consumers eagerly anticipate (and perhaps even celebrate) new product releases.
Naturally, competitors have been clamoring for years to produce similar results, albeit with less investment than Apple. The problem is that technology providers have lost of sight of the human condition. The common driving factors behind product creation are competitiveness and profit. By sacrificing the user experience, you’ll unfortunately won’t attain either. There are three options for product development: be the fastest to market, have the cheapest product, or provide the best quality (hint: you may only choose two). Technology providers that truly invest in and understand the science behind user experience stand the best chance of winning over the modern consumer.