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Product design is not limited to user requirements anymore. It has gone beyond to accommodate the holistic experience of users and consumers. Placing the focus on Experience Design (XD) has taken the central stage in decision making and strategy building. Experience Design is the practice of driving product development by keeping the users’ experiences at the core. The concept of Experience Design appears narrow in words, but, in practice, it's gigantic and organizations spend a huge amount of time in getting this right.
With the advent of social media and ease of accessibility, the need for adopting Experience Design has become crucial like never before.
Traditionally, product design has been about developing features that meet user requirements. A few companies also offered extra features that surpassed users’ expectations, but not impressively enough to entice the newer generation. The neo-users are tired of passive methods and are looking for more. They are empowered and have a bigger pool of options to choose from. Amid the ever-changing and highly competitive market, the only way to sustain and outshine is by offering better than others. Here, an effective experience design comes into play.
Experience Design: Why Do You Need It?
A product is more than just a tangible entity made to sell or interact with your consumer. Every interaction evokes an emotion. From browsing through a web page to using software, every move instills an impression. And this emotional ride is where the potential lies. Every touchpoint in the product making is an opportunity to convey the emotion that you want the users to experience. A well-crafted Experience Design helps companies address their vision and express how much users mean to them.
The experience design adopted by 'Fitbit' is one of the finest examples in the domain. Fitbit is a health and fitness brand that produces wireless and wearable trackers. Most of their users are those who want to maintain an active lifestyle but aren't obsessed with workouts. In short, it's a category between fitness freaks and couch potatoes. This user base needs constant motivation and the company very well captured this emotion. They shaped their product by keeping the consumer experience at the center and the results were astonishing. The effective Experience Design significantly boosted profits and consumer trust.
Designing an experience isn't about adding new features, for the sake of it. It's about curating a wholesome experience for the users. The strategies and features need to be tweaked with a keen interest in what gets humans moving. Remember, a successful experience design doesn’t cater to user satisfaction, it works on elevating the experience.
User Experience Vs Experience Design
While User Experience is based on pure interaction with digital interfaces, Experience Design is a wider concept and includes the consumer experience. The idea is to capture the whole gamut of emotions that a user will go through in their journey with the product. Every teaser, announcement, performing element, and after-services feature will leave an impression on the user. A carefully drafted Experience Design will take into consideration all the elements - big or small - to ensure a delightful experience for the user.
Now, experiences can be many things. It can be virtual, physical, or emotional. While user design might be focused on providing digital and virtual experiences, the Experience Design stretches to touch upon products, services, companies, and everything around the business.
Experience Design focuses on building long-term relations and leaving ever-lasting impressions on the consumers. It loves to keep the focus on the users and consumers because, in the end, it's for them the company is working.
How To Devise Experience Design?
The market is rapidly changing, and user preferences are frequently evolving. Amid such times, there is no way one can think of getting the fundamentals of Experience Design wrong. While the central idea revolves around the user and consumers, there are a few guiding principles that can help draft an immersive Experience Design.
Don't meet, exceed the user's expectations: Since it's all about getting the taste of the user right, it's important to build a meaningful experience.
While working on the Experience Design, keep the focus on enhancing the overall look and feel of the product. Take considerable time in meticulously studying all the elements. Every engagement with the product stirs emotion and it's (entirely) up to the company to ensure a frame of mind that plays out in its favor. From interface to after-sales assistance, all the elements need to be carefully weighed and executed. A well-balanced mix of the components will not just help you meet the user expectations but also surpass them.
- Understand user behavior
- Engage with users
- Get feedback and analyze
Go beyond the screen, know your users: Experience Design is a practice focused on human outcomes. Hence, it's extremely important to understand their likes and dislikes. The best way to do that is by getting their feedback. Indulge in interactions and try to understand experiences and responses. The practice will help you eliminate any feature or service that is causing any discomfort. This will ease the job of turning "frustration" into "satisfaction".
- Focus on quality of product and services
- Connect with your consumers
- Go beyond the obvious
Research: Research is one of the most crucial steps in Experience Design development. Studying the current trend will not only keep you ahead in the market but will also help in understanding consumers better. It's advisable to conduct research at regular intervals and avoid relying on historic data. The tech world evolves so rapidly that the data may become irrelevant and not represent the current reality.
- Study market trend
- Map consumer journey
- Rely least on secondary data
Make things easy: Experience Design should be inspired by simplicity. Our job is to make things smooth for the users and not complicate them. Users aren't looking for a high-end device, but a tool that is helpful and easy to use. The interface shouldn't be too complicated and shouldn't have loads of sub-tabs. Anything that can kill the mood, can't be part of the Experience Design, simple. The navigations on the homepage should be straight and clear. Even the language matters. Everything from product description to content should be in a language that can be understood by the target users. The aim should be to use all the tools possible to give an integrated consumer experience.
- Go for simple interface
- Use user-friendly language
- Check accessibility of features
Minimize errors: We are humans, we all make mistakes. It's impossible to eliminate all the errors, but we should strive to eliminate most of them. As designers, we need to know where errors can occur and what could be the pain points for the users. Based on the findings, these errors should be either minimized or removed. It's always better to identify them at an early stage to avoid any dent in the consumer base. Moreover, the practice will help to gain market trust and confidence in the product.
- Try to detect errors at an initial stage
- Adapt effective management techniques
- Conduct more quality assurance tests
Remember, the Experience Design game is user centric. Organizations should constantly work on finding what is valuable and memorable to their consumers. Never hesitate to ask users about their preferences and adopt all the tools possible to enhance the overall experience. A business benefits by gaining consumer insights based on real-time stats, rather than the traditional ways of relying on historical data. Understanding the makeup of a good user experience can be subjective but using your own researched data can help you arrive at the most appropriate Experience Design. In the end, a good consumer experience is the best and most successful marketing strategy in digital times.