Saturday, January 24, 2009

Design Research Methods for Experience Design

Looking at the U in UX Design ...

"There is a trend among some in the UX community to take the U out of UX and refer to our discipline simply as experience design. One reason for this change in terminology is that it lets us talk about a specific target audience in terms that resonate with business stakeholders more than the generic term user—for example, customer experience, patient experience, or member experience. The other reason for using the term experience design rather than user experience design is that it recognizes the fact that most customer interactions are multifaceted and complex and include all aspects of a customer’s interaction with a company or other organizational entity, including its people, services, and products. Customer interactions encompass much more than the usability of a particular user interface. They include all of the social and emotional consequences of a customer’s interaction with an organization or brand, including trust, motivation, relationships, and value.

But if the name of the discipline is evolving and the focus of design is expanding, does that mean the design methods are different? Are traditional usability and user-centered design activities useful for gaining insight into the broader implications of the emotional impacts of a design? Or do we need different approaches? To explore these questions, it is helpful to look at the strengths and weaknesses of two existing alternative design approaches:

* user-centered design
* genius design

One End of the Spectrum: User-Centered Design

The activities and methods of a traditional user-centered design process vary somewhat among practitioners, but the basic components are similar. User-centered design typically involves an element of research with the target audience and an iterative design process that lets UX professionals analyze designs and test them with representative users. The idea is to generate ideas for design by talking to potential users, then validate the resulting designs through real-world tests with those same users. Common techniques that are familiar to practitioners include task analysis, contextual inquiry, paper prototyping, card sorting, the creation of personas, and usability testing.

By focusing on user tasks and goals, user-centered design reduces users’ learning curve for a product and leverages their existing knowledge to maximize usability and value. We have traditionally judged the success of products that result from a user-centered design process by their learnability, efficiency in use, and the satisfaction that results from a user’s experience with a product."    (Continued via UXmatters, Michael Hawley)    [Usability Resources]

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