Essay: What is user experience?

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  • What is user experience?
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Introduction

What is user experience?

“The goal of user experience design is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product. “

User experience design has revolutionised the entirety of the design process for many designers, companies and corporations. In the past we focused on what people needed and designed simple objects and services that would allow them to perform the task or use the product sufficient. Nowadays we are being challenged into designing for the user and his/ her experience and emotional standards. Connecting the user to the product by highlighting the areas people are most attracted to and exploiting this during the design process. As we grow in knowledge of this new area of design we are constantly expanding our diversity and our multinational knowledge of beings around the world and designing for the diversities between them. I myself personally believe that this new phenomenon of design has greatly corrected the design process as it allows the designer to acknowledge pain points experienced by the user and adapt the design to avoid or even eliminate these errors/flaws. The ever continuous growth of the technologies that we encounter in our lives is greatly influencing our latest designs with limitations constantly being surpassed and new highs being achieved. This undisputedly related back to user experience as we connect with our products and develop a connection with them on a scale that both affects us on an emotional and physical attraction. Another fact of the matter is that as technologies grow and are spread into and become part of our daily lives the demand for better more efficient products grows. Designers must learn to adapt to this rapid growth by matching products to users and eliminating pain points in the design through methods of design evaluation. This never ending chain of advancements allows designers to communicate with consumers attain feedback and develop from there instead of hoping and trying helplessly to gain an insight into what the user really wants. Different methods have been established to achieve this and each entail different approaches in gaining a final outcome. (Elsevier B.V, 2011) (infosy’s, 2012) (Delagi, 2010)

Theories

The following are a number of theories that relate directly towards user cantered design and have been published in some way or form. Each method brings a different approach to the table whilst each method is equally important in the creation of a successfully designed product.

The user centred design approach all began way back in the late 70’s and aimed to design a greater understanding of the needs of a user on a wider scale than ever previously experienced. The user concerted design approach became realised as an aim to represent the users throughout the design process. (Karat, 2003) Which provided an allowance for more efficient and usable designs? However this approach did not involve the user being directly related to the design process. Instead the user would be represented by trained experts in the field of usability, theoretical evaluations of the situations or by estimated models of the consumer attitude. (Bekker, 2000). This led to a widely open involvement of the representation of the users. Tis user cantered design approach has a reputation for taking facts and dealings whilst being misled in their rationale. (Bekker, 2000) And has since been duded un reliable in accordance with (Karat, 2003).

Another published theory that has been explored in relation to user design is the relationship between user perception and the product. (Shluzas & Leifer, 2014) Describes how trough inductive multi case analysis of numerous users put product into practise to evaluate performance outcomes. Initially the data is compiled to achieve an overview of the products nessacary outcomes. This helps by allowing it to be designed to withstand various outcomes. Secondly the product is unveiled and is shown to hold multiple possibilities and positive attributions that will benefit the users’ needs and adapt to their behaviour. Thirdly the designer will lead the perception to the user that allows the product to seem as if it has surpassed all expectations. This data will be displayed by means of graphs and figures. And will install a positive mentality towards the product. Finally the product will be displayed against competing products of it description and be shown to be superior to all others. These steps will all the users perception of the product to be utilised in the design stages and targeted across the sales division of the product. It remains consumer orientated however it exploits its perception. (Shluzas & Leifer, 2014)

Another highly regarded theory in relation to user experience in design is creating an emotional bond with the design and developing it throughout the design process. (Singh, 2013) States that creating an “emoha” which is otherwise known as representing a design process that is somewhat emotional involved is an underlying stage of equal importance to any other in the design process. (Singh, 2013) Explains that through the shape, form and product styling a product can be designed to create an “empoha” and this is developed further as the design progresses. In order for a product to become successful it must first be relatable to its users on an emotional level.

(Hassenzahl, 2006) Derived the theory that user experience design is essentially goal orientated. Human satisfaction is highly related to success and failure. The capability to complete a task achieves a reward or reach a goal is a direct relation to this. (Hassenzahl, 2006) Both relates to the completion of the goals set out at the___14 beginning and also incorporates what the designed product can do for the user. Therefore in turn the (Hassenzahl, 2006) provides a level of satisfaction to the user by relating to their physical success in performing the task and their emotional connection with the product for being able to complete the task.

Methods

As we all know there is not just one method for designing the perfect most positive user experience aware designed product that will satisfy 100% of the population. In fact that is impossible. However there are numerous testing methods, procedures and analysis to confirm that a product reaches a certain level of performance or weather the product is a complete disaster and fails. These general procedures will not provide you with the answer that solves 100% of the population’s problem however it will provide you with the nessacary information you need to know to design a product that will satisfy the majority population. In general to regard a product as successful it all piles down to its user experience satisfaction level, how the user bonded with a product, the products interface and most of all products usability. The main area of difficulty with regards to the usability testing is that the process becomes long dragged out and involves numerous tests to be regarded as successful. As only then will you gain an educated insight into the products positive/ negative features? There are many different methods of testing involving user experience, usability and inclusive design. Each of which are important when designing a product that will satisfy the user on both a physical and emotional scale. Methods of testing can be extremely broad and varied, which in turn prolongs the process. The best method is to choose the most suited testing types and ten in turn perform the tests to gather information that is relevant to your design. The more tests carried out relates back directly to your understanding of the design and how well it may or may not interact with the user. Below is a list of commonly carried out testing procedures.

1. Retrospective Testing.

“Retrospective testing” is a method which entails video recording analysis. Whilst being recorded the test subject must think aloud whilst experiencing and interacting with the product. The user must vocally describe their journey. The product is then later evaluated by reviewing the recordings and group analysis. This allows for a direct user experience evaluation and provides a realistic, non- bias interpretation of the product. (Simon, 2009) (Trulock, 2005-2008)

2. The Coaching Method

The second testing method we will undergo as part of our user experience evaluation is the “Coaching method”. In traditional testing methods the test is conducted in silence and the conductor observes and takes notes. However the coaching method is an interactive testing method which allows the test subject and the test conductor to remain in constant and open communication. The coaching method encourages communication allowing the test subject to ask questions when required and also allows the conductor to provide relevant answers and instructions when nessacary. This method becomes helpful in the user experience evaluation as it highlights the main areas of struggle experienced by the test subject and therefore can allow for development in the design phase to either edit the areas of difficulty or provide assistance when required. Therefore it is a vital testing method in the “user experience” evaluation. (Marcus, 2011) (Sirmaci & Ceylan, 01/2014)

3. The Kansei Engineering Method

The third and final testing method explored which is also the main area of this report is the “Kansei Engineering” method. The Kansei engineering method relates directly with the development and design of products through the gradual incorporation of the consumers psychological emotions and their needs and relating to these matters in the design phase of the product. In links both the physical and the emotional aspects of the user through testing and evaluating their responses to the general usability characteristics on said product. As a result of this consumers develop an emotional connection and gain a trust in the product. This is a direct relation to the user experience of a product as when a customer can trust the product and gain a connection both emotionally and physically the user experience cannot but be positive. (Iwaki, 11/2014) (Marcus, 2011)

4. Observation (video recording and the human eye)

Through observation as group one member controls the testing ensuring there is no un-expected problems occurring and that the subject feels comfortable in the testing environment. Another group member observes by eye and takes notes throughout the testing process. The third group member then must video record and keep a documented file of the recording so that after the test has been carried out the group can watch over the tape whilst comparing the notes and highlighting the main pain points experienced by the test subject throughout the test and address those areas in the design process.

5. Subjective Rating using-The System Usability Scale (Likert,1932)

The Linkert scale is the most widely used scales approach globally. Linkert distinguished between scale and proper which is a feedback of given responses judged and returned on numerous testing subjects and the formants are scored along a range of values. (Wuensch, 2009)

6. A subjective image quality rating scale

The system usability scale sus provides and easily adjustable formula that allows scores to be judged from 1-100. The key information is then calculated to determine the numeric results of the test and convert it so that the assessment of the design can be made. (Bangor, 2000) (Bangor, 2009) (Olacsi, 1998)

7. Interviews

Interviewing people is an older method of testing. It often gets over looked during the testing phase as it is almost regarded as too easy. However this is not true. Compiling interviews as a test group can lead to the retrieval of some very insightful information. As the questions are based around the areas you as a test group believe to be the most relevant you can receive information regarding the area of your focus. When combined with other methods interviewing can be a very insightful method of testing.

Case Studies

One of the main advantages with testing and analysing your products is that it allows for a system to fall into place whereby new designs and products are being developed and created constantly. Being able to learn from your mistakes and change the design process for the better is a massive bonus to any designer. Finding a method that proves successful to you is essential in moving forward and furthering the production process for the better.

Case Study 1: TESLA

Tesla is a modern day car design company who have been recently taking over the hybrid/ electric car Global Market. Tesla as a group take the approach to focus in on the users psychological and physical desires to satisfy the users. Tesla continuously mention the fact that they are as quick, as fast, as modern and every bit as stylish as any other top brand fuelled car and are up to 88% more efficient than any petrol car. On a psychological aspect tesla endorses the fact that they are a hybrid car and not wasting fossil fuels. They narrow in on the environment and use factors such as global warming to endorse the image that they are making positive changes to help save the environment. Such endorsements and strategies in turn enter the mind-set of the user on a subliminal level awakening the emotional sentiment towards the car. This encourages a positive attitude towards the car and promotes appositive mental user experience.

Another area where tesla strives for positive user experience is on a slightly more physical level. The tesla car chain is a high costing car to buy. Therefore to make the car desirable tesla sponsors top celebrities to endorse the car leaving it with an image of desire. Also introducing features that allow the car to match all the physical features in any other competitor allows comfort and style to become the marketing forefront.

Nowadays a persona image has become a lot due to advertising etc. for a product like Tesla to become successful it must fulfil, either a positive physical or psychological experience. The tesla image has taken off and this is due to the positive image associated with the car. (Press, 2013)

Case Study 2: PlayStation

Product satisfaction is the centre point of the consumer market in recent times. For a product to establish itself as being successful there are many areas it must thrive in before being regarded as a success. Products must attain the highest of reputations for ergonomic features, style, colour and attractiveness. However for a product to be truly recognised as a good user experience it must pass numerous evaluations tests and analysis. This in turn will generate popularity as the product will grow in reputation by having a positive user experience. Dysfunctionalities, faulty operations and difficult interface cause user frustration. User centred design is the factor that will finally remove all of these negative aspects from the design process. PlayStation are at the forefront of the advances in user experience design. PlayStation have developed their products as technology advances over the past few years. And one of the main areas of improvements has been their design chances to their remote control. Currently PlayStation are the largest selling games company in the World and its evolvement has been second to none. The simplicity of the design with a three button interface and a wireless controller attached via Bluetooth I believe that PlayStation are continuously striving for improvements and advances.

Ergonomic testing was a massive sector involved in the new controller design. The latest controller was modified as technology advanced to generate the idea of a physical connection between user and product.

The aspect of new is a phenomenon that people nowadays have latched onto and consumers love getting something “new”. PlayStation have used this to create a positive relationship between product and user. As they are continuously improving and upgrading their devices.

PlayStation have improved so much over the past few years and are continuing to grow. They are a company set on developing “new” with technology. Creating a positive user experience for their consumers. PlayStation have reputation and must maintain development at the top of their priorities.

Conclusion :

The term user experience is essentially the value of the relationship shared between a user and a product, whilst connecting on both an emotional/psychological way as well as in a physical way. The term itself of “user experience” entails a lot more than meets the eye. The multiple calculations of usability as well as a user observation are a difficult task to perform as individuals. However in user experience multiple tasks must be carried out and an evaluation of the final outcome must be resolved during the design process for a product to be truly successful. Through technological advances user experience design was able to be enhanced as they both are directly connected. The connection between user and product has evolved with these advances and has no longer been just design for practicality. Products can now be customised to suit the user’s desires and changed into whatever colour, shape, size, material etc. The experience has become more than the product. In today’s society this modern concept is evolving at a rate of great proportion. It is exciting to see what the future holds.

References:

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