12 Dec Designing Your Users’ Experience
User experience design is broad. Very broad. It is not just the arrangement of controls on your product or how the screens flow from one to the next, but that is part of it. It is not just how your packaging looks or how easy it is to open, but that is part of it. It is not just how your website looks or how easy it is for the user to find the answer to a question about your product, but that is part of it, too. Your advertising campaign is part of the user experience. Even your help desk is part of the user experience. If all of these things constitute only part of the user experience, then what is user experience design? In short, user experience design entails the controls by which your company shapes the ways users interact with your company, your products, and your brand (references: User experience design – the mantra for 2016, Managing the Experience of Your Customers).
User experience begins when the customer first becomes aware of your product. It might be a commercial, ad, or social media mention. It might be someone driving down the road and seeing one of your company trucks. It might be word-of-mouth from one of their acquaintances. While you cannot directly control every aspect of this experience, you can influence the experience by:
- Creating ads and commercials that are informative, appealing, and demonstrate why customers would want your product,
- Creating positive experiences for all of your customers so that if they mention your products on social media or face-to-face, the reviews are favorable endorsements, and
- Consistently branding your buildings, products, vehicles, and livery in a way that appeals to your customers.
The next stage involves the customer trying to learn about your product. Customers may visit your website, try to find information from third party reviewers, or both. As the manufacturer, you a
re the expert on your product, and your website should present the information to users in a way that is easy to follow for laypeople but that provides the technical details necessary to decide whether the product is right for them.
Your website should:
- Explain technical concepts so that laypeople can feel confident that they know they’re making a good decision,
- Be easy to use, clean, free of unnecessary clutter, and well-organized,
- Place information and menus in logical, intuitive locations that users know how to use without having to hunt around, and
- Clearly indicate what the product does and answer questions that might be asked.
If your website does not do these things, customers may decide that it is not worth their time to try to find what they’re looking for.
In addition to making your own website a positive experience for customers, you must also focus on how 3rd parties perceive your product.
- How easy is it to find 3rd party reviews of your product?
- Does your product show up in a search engine easily?
- Are reviews favorable?
- Has your company addressed negative reviews in a positive way that instills potential customers with confidence that you will do what it takes to make them satisfied?
When customers are finally ready to make the purchase, some don’t want the hassle of shopping in a store, while others want to be able to hold the product (or at least its box) in their hands before they decide to buy it. Therefore, having both online and brick-and-mortar distribution channels is desirable for many products.
For customers who shop in-person, is the packaging appealing and professional, or does it look like something a teenager whipped up in his garage? Is there a demo of your product in the store for him to interact with?
For customers who order online, is your packaging robust enough to withstand being shipped, or will the product end up broken by the time it gets to the customer?
At last, the customer is ready to unbox your product. While it may be tempting to gloss over this step, first impressions matter. Numerous YouTube channels do nothing but unbox products and give first impressions. Consider the experience of opening a new cell phone with its guided packaging versus opening a package of peanuts on an airline: you know that packaging counts. Is the package easy to open? When opened, does everything spill out all over the floor, or does the package open neatly, effortlessly guiding the user through a series of steps to take the packaging off of the product and reveal it and its accessories in all their glory?
Next, initial setup and/or powering on. Are these activities intuitive, or does the user have to reach for the manual to try to figure out what to do? Most users don’t like reading manuals, so if the initial steps are complicated enough that instructions are required, be sure to at least provide a separate getting-started sheet. It’s far better, though, if your product is intuitive enough to spare the user the trouble.
Then there are the little things: if your product uses a battery, is it charged when the user receives it, or does the user have to charge it first? It might not be feasible to ensure a charged battery on delivery, but it sure is a nice touch for users who don’t like to wait. Is using your product intuitive, even elegant? Do users think, “wow, that is really well-designed; I never would have thought of that, but it works so well”? Is your product so awe-inspiring that even people who don’t get on social media very often have to get on and sing your brand’s praise?
Thinking longer-term, let’s not forget reliability. Talk to people with cell phones that restart themselves on their own, do “weird” things like playing music without being told to or sending pocket texts when they’re supposed to be locked, or that just flat refuse to make calls while displaying full signal strength, and you’ll get an earful about how bad the product is. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the packaging was that’s long since been thrown away, how elegant the unboxing, or how intuitive the features if the product does not consistently do what it is supposed to do. Your product should work nearly perfectly the day it’s unboxed, and it should run nearly as well at its end of life. Our TBD article delves into what it takes to design a reliable product.
Technical Support & Disposal
Help and technical support form another piece of the user experience. Does your company provide clear instructions that explain how to get help? Are your help desk employees native to the location where you’re selling? Are they knowledgeable and helpful? Do they make the help experience a positive one, or do they make it difficult and painful? And how about disposal? Does your company make it easy to dispose of the product, or are customers on their own? It is good public relations for companies to present themselves as environmentally friendly, and in markets such as Europe, regulations require it.
As you can see, there are many facets to the user experience, and it is important to consider the entire customer interaction lifecycle (reference: Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience). But you don’t have to go it alone. The Realtime Group can help your company manage your customer’s interactions while also providing design, prototyping, compliance, and testing services. Call us at 972 985-9100 today!