DIGITAL INTERACTIVE SERVICES
The importance of user experience in today’s world
Can you recall how you felt about a website or application you used recently? You may remember its content, features, or functionality, but we are referring to your browsing or usage experience of that platform. It’s completely normal if nothing rings a bell. But if you do remember, there are only two possibilities: either a very negative experience, or an experience so remarkable that it made you go “Wow!”.
Wow-inspiring applications or websites tend to draw people in. This underscores the crucial role of user experience (UX) in the design of a website or application. Especially today, when you are probably the eleventh player with an app on the market that does what ten other apps already do, UX has become a key determinant of success.
UX should not be confused with user interface (UI). UI concerns itself with visual elements such as buttons, icons, color, etc. in an application or website, whereas UX refers to deeper aspects that include page layout, ease of navigation, and other user-focused aspects.
This is how Jonathan Widawski, CEO of Maze, describes the difference: “Imagine you’re designing a house. UX would be the foundation, while UI would be the paint and furniture.”
Evolution of UX maturity
Over the years, UX has evolved from simple aesthetics to an all-encompassing concept that includes usability, accessibility, and overall user satisfaction. The early days of software development were all about functionality. The main goal was to create software that worked well and solved a problem. As technology progressed, the focus shifted from functional requirements to user needs, with UX emerging as a critical discipline.
The past decade saw UX mature even further. Today, creating a product is about creating a memorable, meaningful, and delightful experience for users.
The importance of understanding the user
A highly mature UX design aims to create applications and websites that not only meet user needs but exceed their expectations. A key to achieving this level of maturity is understanding the user. This requires a deep dive into user research through interviews, surveys, and user testing.
The information gathered from user research helps create a UX-matured application or website.
The UX maturity framework
What is UX maturity? Simply put, UX maturity is a measure of an organization’s commitment and capacity to deliver user-centric design.
How can you tell where your UX maturity stands? And how do you decide on the strategies to raise your UX maturity? This is where Jakob Nielsen's UX Maturity framework comes in. The model defines 8 stages of UX maturity, namely:
- Hostility toward usability: Usability is an alien concept at this stage.
- Developer-centered UX: Developers play UX experts; the design is not research-backed.
- Skunkworks UX: User research data present, planning and budgeting absent.
- Dedicated UX budget: UX research is planned, and budget allocated, yet UX activities lay limp.
- Managed usability: There is a dedicated person for UX, but budget limitations play spoilsport.
- Systematic user-centered design (UCD) process: There is adequate funding to incorporate UX research findings in all the projects.
- Integrated user-centered design: More money is spent on user research, resulting in UX being included in projects at the design stage.
- User-driven corporation: User research establishes the business’s priorities and guides it beyond just product design.
Once you assess where you stand, you can develop a plan to improve your UX maturity.
Iterative design process
Organizations that strive for stage 6 and beyond of the UX maturity model require investment in continuous user research. The feedback gathered must be used to continuously improve applications and websites.
This means that the design process must never be considered complete, and designers must continuously make changes and improvements.
Please note that the iterative design process starts with user research and continues throughout the design process. It involves prototyping, testing, and refining the product until it meets the user's needs.
Accessibility and inclusivity
True user-centric products should be usable by everyone. This includes people with disabilities, elderly people, and those with limited technology skills.
Standards such as WCAG 2.0 offer guidelines — including operable with keyboard-only navigation, providing alternative text for images, and using colors with adequate contrast — on how to make web content accessible for people with disabilities.
These efforts ensure that the product is usable by everyone and helps to build a more inclusive digital world.
The future of UX
User experience (UX) design has come a long way since the first websites and computer software. As technology continues to advance and shape the way we interact with products, UX design is also evolving to provide better, more intuitive experiences to users.
The future of UX design is exciting, with new technologies emerging that offer new opportunities to create innovative and engaging products.
Future UX design will be characterized by empathy, AI/ML integration, immersive and interactive experiences, increased accessibility, and simplicity. There is no doubt that UX design will continue to play a vital role in determining how we interact with applications and websites.
About Infosys BPM Content Marketing Operations
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