I have a tough time, explaining people what my business title is and why do I need to work in this space. Sometimes even with the most educated people blink at the term “user experience”. It’s not too difficult a term right, it is just “user” + “experience”. Ok! Ok! I know I am just pondering over the same two words in the last four lines but not providing any relevance to my topic. This is exactly what user experience is, I start off my thread with a title but I delve little into in the last few lines. I could in fact write a fancy little story also inbetween, which could further deviate my blog from the topic. I could actually have some of you frowning or probably chase few of you after starting off in such a note. This is a classical example of bad user experience where there is a clear disconnect between the expectations of my blog reader and what is being actually delivered to them.
This is exactly how most of the products we use in our daily lives are built. Most of the product engineers assume that users have all the time in the world to master them. Just to cite an example, I have a swanky home theater system with a cool remote. My mother is not a gizmo freak but then she is quite quick in understanding these new devices, which I bring home. Every time she sits down to see a movie, she stumbles when she has to pause or stop the system. Did I mention she has a distance vision problem? To complicate this experience further, movies are generally seen in low light conditions. So what normally should have been a laid-back entertainment experience actually becomes complex in its own altitude. A small digital remote packed with huge number of buttons, without any distinction in their shapes or color could actually make movie watching completely frustrating sometimes. I do not have problems using my remote because I am quite acclimatized to it. It’s a clear case of not being able to design and engineer a product, which could suits the needs of eclectic crowd. Please don’t say, it is just a remote. Do you know the number of remotes in my house? I have one for my music system; one for my home theater; one for my set top box; one for my television; one for my air conditioner and this list expands. If this is the case with just a remote, imagine utilizing complex devices, websites, applications etc. Trust me, even the most well known brands have learnt the knack of chasing their users away.
As we are moving towards the pervasive computing space where man will be constantly trying to win the battle between man and machines, users will have very less time left for us to sit and figure out user manuals to set up and use devices. Its not just gizmo devices, its to do with any relationship users share with a brand. It could be prior to the usage or during the usage or after the usage. I have been doing some car search for the last two weeks, my interaction with the sales men has a great influence on me, the reviews about the brand or the car written on various websites adds one more dimension, the experience that the car offers itself is another dimension of influence.
Its not even 2 full years since I have started working in this space. So I can’t call myself a “pro”. But then it is plain common sense/logic in most cases and does not involve complex strategy all the time. It is definitely one area, which is applicable to every product/every service/every system built on this planet earth. Coming to think of it, most of us are consciously or subconsciously related to this in some part of the user experience value chain.
UX is a bigger space than one can imagine. Innovations, breakthroughs, discoveries, technology cannot make it big unless we make it work for people.