Tag Archives: usability

Is speed becoming a commodity? UX is dead. Long Live UX!

#include <std_disclaimer.h>

The other day I tweeted how I love as I learn more my definition of User Experience (UX) continues to expand. For many years, as a part of end-user monitoring businesses, I spoke about UX as if it completely depended on what I have come to call Feelsfast.

Feelsfast is the mythical metric that measures how long it takes for a user to feel like your page has loaded. This is a basic requirement, a basic need that’s lower on the hierarchy of needs. Without Feelsfast the rest of UX doesn’t matter because no one will use your website or mobile application.

UX = Feelsfast is dead. Long live UX!

My newer, more cultivated view of user experience goes something like…

UX = Feelsfast + Usability + MarketingPs

What do I mean when I say Usability?
It’s the ease of use, learnability and enjoyment that can come from a digital interaction. This is the stuff of the Carnegie Mellon, Human Computer Interface model that Forrester frequently discusses and Aberdeen presents a refined interpretation below:

Aberdeen Research interpretation of Andrew's CX hierarchy

Aberdeen Research interpretation of Andrew’s CX hierarchy

BUT…désign, style and grace is akin to store design, layout and optimization in the retail world, although it is part of the Product in the SaaS and application world as the user interface IS the product.

Usability still leaves something, something more essential, the substance.
The MarketingPs are the substance. This is the traditional Price, Promotion, Product, Placement stuff that we all learned in our Principles of Marketing class back in college. This is the what people are buying.

The amazing opportunity for businesses moving forward is to leverage the latter two in my UX equation to reimagine the customer journey and more effectively engage users at every touchpoint of the customer experience.

Digital, as a virtual experience, supports endless experimentation promoting a culture of innovation that allows businesses to create real competitive advantages. Combine experimentation with big data powered multi-variate analytics and our systems can create a safety net allowing our employees to take risk without risk!

So where does that leave Feelfast?
Yes, we can’t deliver the rest of UX without it! And yet it is really the stuff of infrastructure. It’s the rails our train of digital experience ride on.

For modern, well-designed software applications adding performance is getting to the point where you should just be able to add more coins to the computing machine to get more performance.

Is SPEED becoming a commodity?
We are not quite there yet, but that’s where we are going :)

PX > CX > UX = #usable + #feels_fast + #was_emotive <-- the battle for business supremacy

Over the last few years I have become inspired or perhaps possessed with a certain awe about how touch interfaces, Mobile, Cloud and Social have converged to change the focus of most successful organizations from delivering usable products to delivering meaningful and pleasurable experiences worth sharing. Digital experience influences more and more of our business landscape from how customers find us, to how they learn about and perceive our reputation, to their on-boarding experience. It’s the experience to date (hey I just made up a new term ETD), the sum of the whole experience delivered to the PEOPLE who are our users, that drives this.

Delivering experiences that people feel good about, find memorable and want to share is the next battle for business supremacy.

I’ve suggested previously, because our users are people, and understanding the customer journey and how to deliver amazing experiences starts with people, this should not be the practice of customer experience (CX) but rather people experience (PX). Further, if we are focussing for today (and we are) on digital experiences then we are really talking about user experience (UX).

I would suggest to you that this equation holds true:

PX > CX > UX = #usable + #feels_fast + #was_emotive

Of course, this is rooted in the fact that software systems are now systems of engagement and not just systems of record. We count on our software systems to help improve our reputation with our customers and our software systems to help our employees improve our reputation with customers. Every software system built ultimately has an impact on People Experience. And I want to emphasize how important it is that even our internal systems provide pleasurable experiences to employees. Because happy employees make for happy customers.

Aberdeen Research interpretation of Andrew's CX hierarchy

Aberdeen Research interpretation of Andrew’s CX hierarchy

This concept is borrowed from a slideshare (slide 15) by Steven Anderson in 2006 and the clarified graphic is courtesy of Aberdeen Research.

They are both a refinement of some previous research from Carnegie Mellon on human computer interfaces in the early 90s.

This is what we all should be striving for in the software systems that drive our interactions with customers and prospects. And also the software systems that support real-world interactions that support our employees or inventory or return process. What does this refined CX pyramid look like to you? Does it remind you of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Take a look.

maslow

Just like with Maslow’s Hierarchy the basic needs and basic tasks at the bottom are much easier to achieve than the needs at the top like self-actualization. And yet, that is what is required of everyone involved in designing customer experiences now.

How can we build applications that create pleasurable experiences? By understanding the PEOPLE who will be using them. That’s probably a lot easier than self-actualizing.

Understand the people who are your users and do more than help them get it done – strive for delight. Think about those smaller parts of the interaction that don’t require building the starship enterprise. The Kano model is a good strategy here. Where could you introduce parts of the interaction that are different and appealing?

Let’s look at one ingenious example in the Travel aggregation space – Hipmunk.com. Search for any flight…go ahead. Notice that cute little button in the sort bar that says sort by “agony.” How can that not make you smile if you’ve every travelled through airports?

What appealing little capabilities are you adding to your UX to help delight people?

Ken

Web Performance is Only 50% of User Experience (UX)

As a former website monitoring vendor,  I have often made the statement that web performance is user experience, and I’ve seen others say the same.  Let’s deconstruct that a little bit and try to add some clarity to what user experience actually is and where application performance management and optimization fit in.

In plain english, User experience (UX) is the science of understanding how a person perceives their digital relationship with your organization. It includes all the subjective aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency.

Quoting more technically from wikipedia’s definition of user experience
ISO 9241-210 defines user experience as “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service”. According to the ISO definition, user experience includes all the users’ emotions, beliefs, preferences, perceptions, physical and psychological responses, behaviors and accomplishments that occur before, during and after use. The ISO also list three factors that influence user experience: system, user and the context of use.

I would purport then that User Experience is 50% application performance and 50% usability. Application performance is the hard science part while usability is the soft science part.

Usability is about…

Effectiveness – can users complete tasks, achieve goals with the product, do what they want to do?

Efficiency – how much effort do users require to do this?

Satisfaction – what do users think about the products ease of use?

And application performance is about…

Availability – is it there to users to interact with when they choose to?

Performance – does it offer a fast and fluid experience when pressing buttons, entering data or using menus?

Relating user experience to music. It’s not just technical execution of the notes but the voicing of the music as well that makes a piece sound wonderful.

If your website is slow or it doesn’t work users will hate it. Even if it’s super-fast and always there,  if users can’t figure out how to complete the task from the user interface presented or that interaction is tedious they will also hate it.

Yes, web application performance is half of user experience, but so is usability. Both are essential to delivering memorable experiences worth sharing. A key to success in today’s connected world.

Ken