Do you remember the moment you first realized that there is something like user experience? Probably not. Only looking back I realized that I already suffered from bad product UX as a young kid. And I bet you did too. I remember big fights with my family members: before every household had an obligatory flat-rate, internet use had to be fought for way harder than today. As soon as I had landed ten minutes of precious surfing time, siblings shouted into the computer room that they had to make the most important phone call of their lives – now! Getting offline for a phone call – definitely very bad UX. I remember my deflation: how can be a cool new thing like the internet be so unfun at times?
Thinking Out of the Box
Posts Tagged ‘UX’
In the first part of this two part series my colleague Simon Kieke drew a bold conclusion regarding the importance of IoT for medium-sized enterprises. Instead of adapting an “all or nothing” mentality, he suggested to integrate small and user-centered digital services into already existing products. This way, IoT products are created with reduced risk and guaranteed benefit for the targeted user group.
This approach is based on the “Lean UX” framework and its core idea of working with Minimum Viable Products (MVP). But how do you define an MVP and how can other Lean Principles further reduce risk and complexity during the project?
In this second part I want to illustrate different Lean Principles with a project rooted in product design & development. The project team consisted of computer science students without design background who participated in my lecture “Designing the User Experience for Ubiquitous Computing Devices” at Saarland University.
The main stage of our story is a restaurant kitchen. This context was chosen freely by the students as part of their imaginary start up.
We are confronted with very different kinds of to-dos every day. It is only natural that some of those tasks are more fun than others. Especially less motivating tasks, for example housekeeping, are last on the list: cleaning the coffee machine, tidying up the refrigerator, sorting empty bottles. The preferences and aversions may be individually different but supposedly everyone knows special tasks that he or she does rather reluctantly. Also, in office routine, there are frequent tasks that come up extra to the actual working activities: cleaning up the meeting room, deposing waste batteries (only professionally of course!) or writing a blog article for the company website 😉
What can be done to make such to-dos – as well as the everyday (working) life – more engaging? In this article, I introduce not only known approaches, but also our “in-house” concept that was developed at the Centigrade branch of Mülheim Ruhr.
In October 2017 Adobe released the first beta of XD, its “all-in-one UX/UI solution”. As a graphic designer, I’ve used Photoshop and Illustrator in my workflow for years and wonder how XD measures up as an UX tool so far.
Quick historical excursion about the possible impact of the new tool’s release: in print, Adobe has practically eliminated competition starting in the 2000s with InDesign 2.0, setting the standard with Photoshop and Illustrator integration and smooth output of print data. This raises the question if XD can already cover the different processes in the UX cosmos and if it has the potential to push aside tools like Sketch as thoroughly as InDesign pushed aside QuarkXPress.
2014 is ending, and the term IoT (Internet of Things) is entering the public awareness of the German-speaking regions for the first time. The concept is promising: individuals can rely on a connected intelligent environment to solve everyday problems. Businesses can develop previously inconceivable products and services, and sell them at scale. McKinsey is predicting a potential economic effect of $2,7 trillion to $6,2 trillion and businesses like Intel are painting a colorful and profitable picture of the IoT world. Of course, product managers and top-level managers in companies across the developed world are ordered to get on the IoT bandwagon.
Three years later, at the end of 2017, the hype has sobered. A few large companies like Alphabet or Amazon can bring IoT products to market with varying degrees of success, but especially medium-sized companies find it hard to convert the new opportunities into hit IoT products. What is the problem? Can remarkable results also be achieved with low risk and unusual methods like Lean UX?
“Lean principles help to gain a foothold in the large field ‘Internet of Things’ by making human needs the starting point of each project. The complexity of IoT becomes manageable through sharply focused projects and continuous learning. This focus allows to gain groundbreaking insights early through methods like Rapid Prototyping. Early feedback is especially important for haptic products.”
Lately, I have been asked more frequently, when Gamification will emancipate from its role as a niche topic and reach mainstream. Since mid-2016, I am sure, that we find ourselves just in the phase of emancipation of this topic and I would like to reveal, why this is my opinion.
During the last year, the media in German-speaking regions frequently covered Gamification: many TV productions, newspaper reports and scientific papers covered potentials of the use of motivational and playful elements in non-game contexts. But not only media response was consistently positive – also Centigrade received numerous requests for Gamification projects, some of which where moved into realization and, by now, are used on a daily basis.
However, one important question occupies many of our customers: How much “game” is suitable for a certain context of use as well as for users‘ and customers‘ needs. This question is crucial as playful and motivational elements can be integrated in existing processes and products in many different ways. Our customers also ask themselves which manifestation of playful systems fits best in their user context: are some playful elements enough or should it possibly be a full game to meet the pursued benefits?
This question in mind, this article covers similarities and differences of Gamification and Serious Games and aims at gaining better understanding of potentials as well as conveying possible scopes of application for both concepts and thus, facilitating the decision for or against one of them. read more…
The first part of this article was about the treacherous intuitiveness of establishing an HMI styleguide based on a Corporate Design (CD) styleguide, and why this decision is risky: unlike a CD styleguide an HMI styleguide has to work for software engineers as well as visual designers. Also, this form of documentation is too rigid for a dynamic modern HMI. The most important insight: an HMI styleguide cannot be the sole basis for developing a consistent, aesthetic and intuitive HMI. Looking back on many years of big HMI design projects and speaking as a UX consultant I can say: only a combination of tools and processes will lead to success.
Intuition seems to be one of those things we all profit from a lot. But at times it will deceive us. Designing an intuitive HMI seems to be one of the highest priorities of modern software development, minimizing both the need for training and the risk of operational errors. Still, a lot of software engineers and even HMI designers stumble into one trap when aiming for intuitive software design: listening to their own intuition. They will tell themselves, and quite rightly so, “A good HMI design has to be aesthetic and consistent, so that operators will be able to profit from already learnt patterns in a new context of use – if they can use one machine, they can use all machines.” So far, so good. But now comes the misconception: “If you want your HMI design to be consistent in every way, why not adapt the already established corporate design? It has been there for ages, guiding along the way to consistency and brand experience: the corporate design (CD) styleguide”.
Alas, this is the wrong analogy – but not the first time it has been used: the early years of television had the same problem, reading the daily news to their audience the same way radio did, or the early years of the internet, displaying long columns of information in serif fonts, just like contemporary newspapers did. This might have felt intuitive because it was well-known and long-established – but it was still wrong.
The philosophy of a CD styleguide cannot be transferred to a modern HMI and its development.
Not everyone likes Google products, but everyone who has a computer / laptop / smartphone uses them. It’s really fascinating how a company founded by two students conquered a huge part of the market, became the most desired employer, and every year continue to surprise us with highly innovating ideas. And it’s even more fascinating how a company with about 60.000 employees apparently can’t afford good user interfaces (UI).
In interface design, the term consistency is part of the professional jargon. It is used for everyday feedback and in long term concepts. It is also common ground with developers and clients. Consistency is an important evaluation criterium. Enough reasons to get a good handle on the term. read more…
The term UX design is used very often nowadays. In most cases it’s either used as synonym for interaction design, usability professional or a similar denotation or as conglomerate of all of these disciplines. It is recalled that UX design is not only a phase, but that it should be applied throughout all phases of a project. For me, the boundaries of the term are still set too narrowly. Everybody involved in the development of a product has significant impact on the resulting UX. Usability engineers, interaction designers, visual designers, design engineers, project owners and developers.
This article is currently only available in German language.