Better business outcomes: The impact of User Experience and User-Centred Design on project delivery

Since the turn of the year we’ve been working with an international exporter on a programme of digital transformation. We’ve led similar projects before. But thanks to my new colleague, an expert in User-Centred Design (UCD), this one has raised the bar and heightened expectations for future projects.

AUTHORS
Rich Ellis
Andy Wilby
DATE PUBLISHED
19.5.16

To understand user experience is to understand customers and what makes them unique. We do this by implementing a UCD process that focuses on the needs, goals and intentions of the user and ensures they’re constantly met. This is a specific mindset project teams need to adopt if they’re to create a truly customer centric experience that delights users. It’s the responsibility of User Experience (UX) designers to work with project teams to help build this process into the day-to- day fabric of any project and provide an understanding of what’s required and when. The UCD process should drive the whole project, not simply the visual look and feel.

Focusing on User Interface (UI) helps to create a vision of how an experience could look, based on the needs of the user gathered during a research phase. Typically, UI refers to the creation of a prototype with detailed functionality, which includes a visual design layer. This is done after any sketches, prototyping and lo-fidelity wireframes have received positive feedback from users and have provided a clear direction.

Researching, understanding and designing experiences to reflect the user needs is the key to delivering solutions that will deliver business outcomes for our clients. To ensure we get this right, we’re currently making the transition from focusing exclusively on our clients’ interpretation of their customers’ needs, to interacting and learning from the end customers themselves.

On this particular project, we’ve been observing users in their own environment. This is important because all too often, how a person describes what they do bears little resemblance to what they actually do. We’ve profiled users to understand how different customer types will use our new product and to highlight key pain points at a very early stage.

Game mechanics increases engagement...

Game mechanics form part of UCD too. It’s important to create solutions that break the monotony of completing regular tasks. Providing an interface that responds to users’ actions and encourages them to remain engaged and adopt new habits is key in this respect.

Testing is equally important. Projects carry hypotheses and design assumptions about a customer’s thought process and how they interact when completing tasks. - It’s important to validate these as early as possible – through a design process we call ‘build, measure and learn’ – to ensure the proposed solution meets the actual customer need and helps build confidence that the solution will be a success when it goes live.

Implementing a UCD process has meant all elements of the project we’re delivering have hit the spot more quickly. We moved from conceptual discussions into robust, well-considered designs very early on. This has significantly improved the client project team’s engagement: a picture tells a thousand words and they’re able to see clearly a detailed direction a lot earlier in the project and get just as excited about it as we are.

Recent outcomes we have delivered for our retail clients...

Our senior retail team

Read about Rich
Rich heads Answer Digital Retail, delivering world class solutions to clients including Costcutter Supermarkets Group, FCUK, Arcadia and Ramsden International. Richard has a passion for retail and the transformational impact technology is having on customer experiences.
Read about Jon
Prior to joining us, Jon worked as a consultant with the government, but left to be in a more agile environment. He says Answer Digital provides exactly that.
Read about John
John is a Senior Consultant and has been with Answer Digital for just over 2 years having spent many years building bespoke software solutions. He is currently working in the retail sector as technical lead across a number of projects.