World Usability Day 2014 The Customer Is King

Users, visitors and customers who use a shop, a website, an app or a product on a regular basis and even promote them - which provider does not dream about this? At the World Usability Day at the «Hochschule Rapperswil», 6 experts showed how to establish a user interaction culture, how to create a good user experience and what can be accomplished by means of user interaction and user-centered design.

Providing a product that makes customers happy and maybe even motivates them to commit themselves requires getting to know the users and interacting with them. The first step is the commitment of the company that develops the products. As ergonomics expert and coach Christian Hauri emphasizes in his introductory speech, a real user experience culture needs to be established and lived up to – on all levels: from the project team that applies user-centered design, e.g. when creating prototypes to get feedback from users, to middle management who represents and provides training on user experience in-house and senior management who raises awareness of the UX culture, including its contribution to market position and brand value.

Make your own user experience

This seems easy to do for an SME. But how can a supertanker like Swisscom build UX recognition? According to Christina Taylor, Head of Human Centered Design at Swisscom, it takes some convincing and explaining. It usually proved successful to build a team of people from various disciplines, such as development, design and sales, and let them create the user experience for their current products. However, when you ask people to create a user experience, you have to allow them to feel it themselves. Developing inspiring products is easier in an inspiring environment. Christina Taylor: «We have re-organized and re-furnished our offices!» The UX campaign not only boosted Swisscom's image, but also the sales of the Swisscom shops, which profited from a measurably higher customer satisfaction and turnover following a re-design. 

Hard work

Matthias Menzl, Head of Digital at joiz, is facing a completely different challenge, which (also) requires hard work. In order to maintain young people's interest in TV, it must allow the audience to interact in real time during the show via second screen (tablet pc, mobile phone, notebook). Yet, as a TV station/broadcaster, how do you get the audience to interact and get involved? According to Matthias Menzl it is both useful and necessary to make the TV station available on all social media platforms and companion apps while the discussion is ongoing, to make the user interaction and communication visible during the program and, last but not least, to take advantage of the gamification trend on the proprietary user platforms. 

Motivating the playful way

Janina Woods, game designer and co-founder of Ateo, also emphasizes the potential of gamification, i.e. engaging users and customers. Activities that per se may be dull can become interesting and motivating when presented in a playful way. One possibility is to award points or virtual objects, which may be collected while performing the activity. Even difficult tasks do not necessarily have to put users off. Janina Woods: «The question is: Which are the difficult steps of a task that I can turn into engaging ones?»  

Surprising feedbacks

As a well-known and experienced customer interaction player – and encouraging example – Migros' interaction platform Migipedia was presented. On the platform, customers cannot only evaluate all products, but also ask for products they are missing, co-design and vote on products. Sometimes, the results are surprising. Cristina Maurer, co-leader of the Migipedia blog: «Once, for example, we intended to improve a certain product. But due to customer complaints, we decided to keep the original product.» By getting involved, customers intensify their relationship with the company and show more confidence. As a result, a product writes its own history, which strengthens its identity. 

Listen carefully

Asking users for product feedback and involving them in the development process definitely pays off. While this is done by means of various interview techniques, the most important thing is to listen carefully. This is the conclusion to which Michael Richter, Head of Zühlke Academy, came in a project for Phonak where a remote control for a hearing device was developed. The device was supposed to be easy to use. Therefore, rather than integrating numerous features it was essential to identify the 10 most important characteristics. During the tests one of the – naturally – elderly users commented on his user experience: «This is so awesome.» Mission obviously accomplished! 

World Usability Day

The World Usability Day took place in 40 countries across the world this year, for the German speaking region, events in more than 20 cities were scheduled. In Switzerland, the day was organized by the User Experience Professional Association (UXPA Switzerland) and took place at Hochschule Rapperswil.