This is the first in a series of posts by Scott Plewes.
Great products rarely happen by accident, even when it looks effortless. They are a result of an intentional design process that is grounded in the understanding that users get two essential values out of a product.
1. An emotional value (“I love my iPod”)
2. A utilitarian value (“A mobile phone...wow, now I can call my friends from anywhere!”).
These are linked in the sense that it’s pretty hard to have an emotional value (at least a positive one!) without at least some utilitarian value. Emotional and utilitarian values are delivered by three aspects of design (again related):
The product looks good, is “fun” to interact with, has slick transitions and a “clean” layout, is symmetrical, feels “professional”, is “cool”, etc.
It just does things I value. For example, I value that I can scan my computer for viruses. I dislike that I have to work hard to figure out how, but I do value that I can do it.
The way functionality is delivered. Is it effective, efficient, satisfying, and simple?
Most companies, especially technology companies, focus primarily on the utilitarian value of the product and the functionality of the product design. For many product development programs, success is defined by the num- ber features that can be squeezed into each release cycle!
Yet a great product delivers a user experience that combines aesthetics, functionality and usability to meet both the user’s emotional and utilitarian needs. So how can a company ensure that it gets great products out the door?
We see five dimensions of success in organizations that do this well:
1.They have expertise in house and/or call on experts in UX when they need it;
2.They use appropriate techniques to obtain and understand user input;
3.The leadership and culture in the company appreciates the value and necessity of UX design from a business point of view;
4.There are connected and integrated processes that enable individuals to work together to create the user experience of the product(s); and
5.The principles of UX design are applied in the broadest perspective possible to drive consistent customer experience
Considering these criteria, we have created a model for assessing what “stage” of UX design maturity a company is in. Stay posted as we describe the 5 common stages so you can assess where your business is and what is needed to progress along the path to creating great user experiences in your products.
For more information, please read our latest whitepaper entitled A UX Maturity Model for Companies Seeking Competitive Advantage.
About the Author
Scott Plewes is an expert in user experience design, user research, and incorporating the voice of the customer into product design. As Vice President of User Experience Design at Macadamian, Scott has 20 years of experience in the field of user experience design, working in both the public and private sector. Scott's experience covers the spectrum from desktop, web, and mobile experience design through to even command line and telephony design; and well as a wide range of enterprise and consumer products. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org