When users enjoy their experience with your company and your products, they become loyal followers and supporters. Creating an enjoyable, human-centered experience doesn’t happen by chance; it requires a structured user-focused design approach throughout the product development process. Google designers use the mantra “focus on the user and all else will follow” and applied that mandate when evaluating their projects from the previous year.
Although user experience (UX) design is probably best-known in the development of user interfaces on websites and digital products, UX design plays an essential role in designing digital and physical products and services.
To add value to the user experience, it’s essential for UX designers to understand who is using a product and how that product fits into their daily routine. By having empathy for the users, designers can create a product that helps solve everyday problems. As an example, for one of our medical device projects, we set up a screen that could be read from the hallway so nurses could check information at a glance and quickly identify patients who needed attention. If the device were used solely in an operating room, we would have set it up differently.
Minimizing errors and increasing correct use of a device are just some of the results of UX design methods. User-centered design can create additional benefits that greatly enhance the overall brand experience. Consider Apple users. Even if comparable technology is available at a different price, many users are so loyal they won’t even consider switching. This loyalty is not just about the interface; it’s about the experience of engaging with the brand. As the Interaction Design Foundation explains, “A UX designer is concerned with the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.”
User experience design is more than a competitive advantage, it’s an essential component of successful product development. Look at the descriptions of the products unveiled at the annual CES trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association. Notice how many products include “user experience” as a key benefit. People expect products to work intuitively and help make their lives easier.
According to The Business Value of Design from McKinsey & Company, “companies with the best financial returns have combined design and business leadership through a bold, design-centric vision clearly embedded in the deliberations of their top teams.”
User-centered design requires all teams to follow a UX-centered approach to product development. There are no silos or handoffs; UX designers and industrial designers work in collaboration when developing products. Since these teams share the goal of creating a human-centered product, they work together to keep the user as the central focus.
UX is not a new concept in industrial design. Since the 1960s, Poka Yoke mechanisms have been used in lean manufacturing to prevent human error. These mechanisms are still useful when designing easy-to-use devices sixty years later. An example of a recent Poka Yoke mistake-proof design is the USB connection: both the connector and the socket are designed to ensure that the cable can only be plugged in the correct way. In an ideal UX design, the connector could be plugged in using either orientation.
Products, methods, and tools have evolved. UX designers are continually learning from the past and innovating to meet changing user needs. An experienced UX design team will ensure that user-centered design is at the heart of your product development process. UX cannot be patched on at the end; it must drive every decision from initial business strategy to marketing. People now expect a positive user experience and return to brands that they trust to deliver the experience they want.
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