“Engineers and business people are trained to solve problems, designers are trained to discover the real problems” - Don Norman
The world of User Experience – or UX as it is colloquially known – is incredibly broad. From the role of Product Owner to User Interface Designer, the design discipline takes many shapes and forms.
The team at Interaction Design define UX as a design process that provides “meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.”
Relevant experiences that – as technology has rapidly evolved – have become increasingly digital in application. Within the creative industry, we are concerned with how customers interact with our brand. What hasn’t changed is one fundamental principle – focus on the user.
This focus is a promise; to listen, to converse, and to collaborate with the people we are designing for. It’s about identifying their pain points and addressing them. It is through this process, when applied appropriately, that a larger potential may be realised.
That is, how UX can be harnessed by businesses to create real change.
Validate the problem
Firstly, UX allows businesses to move from mere hypothesis to concrete problem solving. In the beginning, all problems start with a hunch or a thought.
“Customers might want this.”
“Our community could use this.”
“This new feature will solve this.”
UX compels businesses to ground their hypotheses in research, guarding against the impact and influence of external factors. Comprehensive data provides critical insight into trends and patterns. It allows us to tell a story that might otherwise have been missed.
Danielle Miller from Clockwork believes that acknowledging the responsibility and power of thorough research is vital.
“Human-centered design requires research to understand how that product or service fits into the user’s life...The more we understand what makes people tick, the more we can avoid unintended bad experiences.
“We have a responsibility to handle that power with care. Being responsible can look many ways. It’s considering the broad range of scenarios that are possible when people use the product you’re building.”
Human-centred by nature, UX requires us to include users at the very centre of our process. Digital products have become foundational to daily life creating a responsibility to design collaboratively with the very people who will be the end-user.
It doesn’t matter how right the solution is, if the problem identified is not a problem in the first place.
UX further acknowledges that designers aren’t the only ones who can add to the problem solving process. Consider Stanford’s d.school.
Looking to contribute to some of the world’s largest problems, d.school seeks to empower and help individuals unlock their creative potential and apply it to a variety of situations.
“We aim to actively confront and challenge the mindset that design can only be used by a privileged few.”
Unique and global wicked problems require unique and global perspectives in return. By democratising design and allowing everyone to engage in the creative process – from software engineers to graphic designers – problem solving within UX becomes a diverse and holistic approach.
“We believe that diversity leads to better design, and opens up a greater range of creative possibilities. The nature of design affords people the opportunity and privilege to shape the world that they-and others-inhabit.”
For organisations, this means embracing design as a strategic function that can solve business and customer challenges.
Innovation starts here
An inclusive design process built on an empowered community means brands are able to listen and adapt to changing consumer sentiments.
Jean Lin, Isobar Global Executive Chairman, believes businesses can harness UX to create lasting and impactful change.
“The potential of technology combined with creativity to address society’s greatest challenges is huge - but we need to make the commitment to make tangible change happen. As an industry, we are the designers, creators and architects of digital experiences and through using our skills we have the opportunity to make a difference for society.”
By listening carefully to what the broader community is saying allows businesses to create relevant experiences that can benefit the bottom line along with crafting a better future for all.
In other words, business can develop innovative responses to complex business and social issues by applying a UX design process. This is currently considered a best practice in companies such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and World Vision. As more business recognise the importance of designing remarkable customer experiences, we expect this trend to grow in coming years.