User Experience (UX) is a science, that uses the scientific method to observe, measure, hypothesize, experiment and draw conclusions. User Experience is constantly researching ways to improve the status quo, always investigating user interaction and formulating new ideas and methods to combat waste. If we can reduce one mouse click, one step in a process, remove one second off the clock required to complete a given task, all the while making a product easier to use, then we have accomplished our task. Someone once said, “You spend half a day to devise a process that saves an extra mouse click that takes a second of the user’s time.” True, when observing just one user. However, products aren’t built with a single user in mind. Products are built to serve millions of users. At a rate of one click per second, a million clicks equates to seven days of user time. With proper planning of processes and interfaces, a few hours spent on UX can save thousands of hours of end users’ time. End users time translates to improved productivity in the workplace and a more satisfying experience for a consumer leading to brand and product evangelism.
Research and Development (R&D) is the underlying framework of UX. Research is performed to establish what customers need and to put those customers’ needs first. A common mistake is to allow technology to drive development. If you can build it, doesn’t mean you should. This is not Field of Dreams. A fancy Web 2.0 site will not attract a user base if it does not fill an inherent need. Evolving technology while following conventions is a constant challenge UX professionals face. We are stewards of the end user, always heralding what is best for them, all the while keeping the business’ goals in sight. The resulting product must be beneficial to the producer and consumer.
Research for UX is a practice of qualitative and quantitative studies in human interaction and behaviors. It’s crucial to ensure a balance of interpretational human behaviors and the empirical observation of the resulting processes. UX research begins with quantitative methods, analytics, A/B testing, conversion ratios, funnel analyses and surveys. These methods form the baseline of our reasoning. Qualitative research like focus groups, usability labs, eye-tracking studies and development research provides the fundamental data to invent, explore and test new methodologies.
At the end of every project, we perform a 360 review where we examine the results and calculate the ROI of the changes made to the implemented processes and interfaces. We learn what worked and what didn’t, which allows us to make continued improvements as well as apply the same reasoning and methodologies to other projects. Take a look at our Fleming’s Case Study to see how changes made to their reservation process significantly improved its usability.
There is the adage-fits like a glove. In part that’s what UX is about, but it’s better stated as, fits like a Wonder Bra. The UX should bolster the impression and usability of the end product without drawing attention to its-self.