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User experience (UX) has long been a bit of a mystery to me (even though I have a blog), but until now I’ve not investigated much despite it’s being everywhere. Not anymore. UX is everywhere in business and it follows, at least to me, that it must be useful. My interest was sparked when I discovered that the term ‘user experience’ was coined in 1993 by a cognitive scientist working for Apple. So I put my thinking cap on and began to dig.
User experience design is the process of creating products which are easy and enjoyable to use.
A product can be any number of things. An electric car, a fun new app or even, on occasion, a website.
Effective UX design helps create a strong sense of common purpose amongst and across teams which can increase productivity.
Let’s answer the big question.
Good UX design, improved still further by effective and considerate teamwork, can boost productivity — on both a team and individual level — by cultivating a highly motivational atmosphere. Focusing solely on satisfying the needs and desires of your users by making sure your UX design includes proactive and reactive elements is one way of starting to build a motivational atmosphere. The sense of individual autonomy, whilst working in a team towards a shared worthwhile goal, will likely do wonders for your motivation and — by extension — your productivity.
Let’s explore this further.
What makes UX design good and efficient?
UX is hugely impacted by the speed at which you can produce work and, crucially, the quality of that work. In short, to ensure that you have good — or even great — user experience design you also need to ensure that you and your team are working well and efficiently to produce they highest quality work they can.
How is UX design important for team productivity?
How well your team works together directly affects user experience. By investing time and effort into improving the UX design, you will be able to get more done, faster. To be truly efficient though, quality matters as much as speed.
Working on certain aspects of UX can help improve productivity – though not always in an obvious way. Nonetheless, if the overarching focus remains steadfastly on human users, you’re definitely on the right track.
I’ve broken two of them down as best I can. Soon, I’ll try to give form to the general principles by applying them to an imaginary example.
For now though, let’s get to grips with two of the main principles.
- When considering which part of the UX to tweak, modify or create, ask yourself what task your human users most need your product to do for them.
- What do you and your team think would improve their lives? What would make your audience fall in love with your product so much that they tell friends about just how good it really is?
- If numbers suggest the ever-unmatched promotion by word-of-mouth isn’t already happening it might be wise to make room for another question.
- Is there a weaker element of your UX design that’s preventing the spread of good news?
- Having discussions of this kind — with human-focus at their core — will help you bring out the best ideas from your team.
- Best ideas are ones that are least likely to be discarded.
- Therefore, by doing your utmost to get the best ideas out of yourself and your team, you also make it much more likely that those chats will prove productive.
- You’ve now got some ideas that you can base decisions about your product on. This makes it easier to take decisions and thus can increase productivity.
- By zeroing in on a human user’s perspective, you and your team will be able to make quicker, more intuitive decisions.
- Why? Because you and every one of your co-workers is also a human user in some way, right? It’s far easier to put yourself in someone else’s shoes by asking yourself what you would expect from your product.
- When you have just a few answers to that question, you’ve got a place to start.
- Do our customers want and value what we’ve decided on?
- Can using your product help you and your team help you decide? It’s certainly a good first step towards devising a good execution process.
The fictional example I’ve come up with to try to illustrate the point assumes that decisions about what kind of product is being further developed have already been made. So, let’s go on a flight of fancy together before we talk about the productive execution of UX design.
The main job of our revolutionary headphones is to give people a truly immersive, musical ‘I’m at a Concert feeling’, that can be enjoyed from anywhere.
What would change their lives for the better?
Headphones that let you not only hear the beat, but also physically feel it, wherever they happen to be.
I’ve looked at the numbers and it’s not selling as well as we hoped. Lots of people are saying that they’ve never heard anything like it and many of the people we tested them on, asked if they could keep them at the end. So they must love the product. Why do you think sales aren’t higher?
Well, I’ve looked at some early reviews and most are saying they cost too much. But we can’t really change the technology we use much; that’s what makes them great.
Right, how else could we make them more affordable?
Maybe a crowdfunding campaign …
Split testing and productive execution of UX design
Split testing — the testing of 2 or more manifestations of a variable in a randomised experiment to discover which version has the most positive impact — is sure to make actually putting your carefully crafted UX design into practice a more efficient process. So what questions does a truly efficient team need to ask and answer to reinforce their own productivity and execute the design to perfection.
- How flexible is your design? Will elements of it adapt seamlessly to the wants of individual users?
- For speed, split testing allows you to test different aspects of your product design quickly and at a low cost. In our example, this could be a website created with the primary purpose of selling headphones. Split testing will likely prove more efficient in the short-term.
- Split testing combined with usability testing — which is more costly and complicated to set up but has the advantage of using live participants — is probably the ideal way to execute great UX design.
- As a team, sharing key findings will help you all work more effectively and productively to further improve your — by now already spectacular — user experience.
As far as I can see, the 3 most common characteristics that distinguish a great product from a good one are desirability, value and usability.
So, by working to make desirable, valuable and useful products, you can help motivate yourself and your team and, in so doing, boost your productivity.
Why can creating great products increase efficiency?
I’ve talked about how high levels of motivation may bring about an uptick in productivity before. But what does that mean for the field of UX design?
Let’s break down our three essential characteristics of a great product and what they mean for design.
- Seeks to answer questions and is a more reactive approach.
- How easy and intuitive is the user interface of the product?
- How fast can you do things with the product?
- If users make a mistake, how quickly can they rectify it and get back on track?
- Is using the product pleasant and enjoyable?
- This goes beyond usability and focuses more on meeting user needs and proactively solving problems for them.
- It accounts for the emotion of wants and needs.
- If you strike gold with both usability and desirability, customer satisfaction will likely increase, sales are more likely to rise and your return on investment (ROI) will improve.
If you and your first-class UX development team believe you’re truly giving your users something they yearn to have, and you all share the common aim of making your product the best you possibly can, that will likely do wonders for your own motivation. You’re exercising autonomy, your team members are helping keep things novel, and you know your work really matters. Thus, you’re far more likely to be more productive.
That’s the primary reason why, at least by my reckoning, creating fabulous products can boost productivity.
Now we have a clearer idea of user experience and how a great UX design can increase your efficiency, I hope you’ve gained the confidence to delve deeper into this. Who knows? You could start creating world-class product development teams today!