How do you define a 'good' user experience?

24 Oct 2005 - 11:56pm
8 years ago
15 replies
1400 reads
Steve Baty
2009

Hello everyone,

I am working on a piece for a marketing magazine about designing the user
experience for corporate Web sites. I have a question for the list's
resident practitioners: at the start of a project, how do you define the
desired user experience for the site?

The premise of the article is that a 'user experience brief' should use as
its starting point the brand essence/values of the corporation or
organisation. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.

All the best,

Steve Baty
Senior Analyst, Red Square
www.redsquare.com <http://www.redsquare.com>

Comments

25 Oct 2005 - 12:11am
Austin Govella
2004

On 10/25/05, Doc <stevebaty at gmail.com> wrote:
> The premise of the article is that a 'user experience brief' should use as
> its starting point the brand essence/values of the corporation or
> organisation. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.

Yes. This is how it should start, BUT, an organization's *real* brand
essence/values are very rarely the same as what marketing would tell
you.

A company's *real* brand essence/values are the basis of marketing's
*communicated* brand essence/values, but they're not necessarily the
same. A creative brief, what you're calling a UX brief, should begin
with a company's *real* brand essence/values.

--
Austin Govella
Thinking & Making: IA, UX, and IxD
http://thinkingandmaking.com
austin.govella at gmail.com

25 Oct 2005 - 3:13am
Peter Boersma
2003

Doc said:
> The premise of the article is that a 'user experience brief' should use
> as its starting point the brand essence/values of the corporation or
> organisation. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.

I disagree. A brand essence/values part is required, but I feel the brief
should use as its starting point the desired core concept of the system: is
it a shop, is it a magazine, is it a community website, is it a portal, is
it a tool, is it an operating system?

My definition of the user experience includes this bit:

"The ideal user experience allows users to:
- explore engaging functionality designed for them specifically;
- use their vocabulary, and accommodate their expectations;
- adapt the functionality to their preferences;
- rely on other media channels for support;
- while making use of previous experience with the company's service."

Those are the kinds of aspects that need to be addressed in the brief. Why
is this concept suitable for our users? How will they use it? How will we
encourage and support the system's use? How does it fit in our offering?

Peter
--
Peter Boersma | Consultant User Experience | www.UserIntelligence.com
Vlaardingenlaan 9 | 1059 GL | Amsterdam | The Netherlands
p:+31(0)204084296 | f:+31(0)204084298 | m:+31(0)615072747
mailto:peter at peterboersma.com | http://www.peterboersma.com/blog/

25 Oct 2005 - 3:53am
Stewart Dean
2004

>From: Doc <stevebaty at gmail.com>

>Hello everyone,
>
>I am working on a piece for a marketing magazine about designing the user
>experience for corporate Web sites. I have a question for the list's
>resident practitioners: at the start of a project, how do you define the
>desired user experience for the site?
>
>The premise of the article is that a 'user experience brief' should use as
>its starting point the brand essence/values of the corporation or
>organisation. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.

I think your premise is incorrect.

That would be a good premise if it was a creative breif. As far as user
experience goes the main requirement is to understand business goals. From
this key audiences can be identified that are then used to start the user
research process leading to a set of user requirements that are then
embodied in a functional specification (what the project must do) and all
the other elements needed to enable the project to be implimented.

The business goals should include the essence of the brand without being
overly worried about tempory marketing ideas (unless you are building a
microsite, something which I always try and advise against).

The first thing a good user experience team should want are not brand
elements (especially not those to do with the visual presentation) but to
know who they can talk to start exploring the company and those who interact
with it. Creating a user experience is similair to what a business analyst
does except it is more user/customer focused.

Stewart Dean

25 Oct 2005 - 5:21am
Ben Hunt
2004

For me, when designing web sites, a 'good' user experience is one that does
two important things:
1) helps the site to achieve its goals, and;
2) helps visitors to achieve the goals that drive them to use the site in
the first place.

The site's goals depend on the publisher's goals, e.g. Selling so much
stuff, Raising this much awareness of the brand, Earning revenue through N
number of clicks etc.

For the site to achieve its goals, it's vital that visitors feel that
they're achieving theirs, because if they don't they won't use the site, and
success depends on having the right kind of visitors visiting.

So, good user experiences are ones that deliver these (often antagonistic)
objectives. It's the results of a creative search for the right kind of
win-win solution that makes the difference between a good and bad
experience.

- Ben

---------------------------

Steve wrote:

I am working on a piece for a marketing magazine about designing the user
experience for corporate Web sites. I have a question for the list's
resident practitioners: at the start of a project, how do you define the
desired user experience for the site?

The premise of the article is that a 'user experience brief' should use as
its starting point the brand essence/values of the corporation or
organisation. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.

25 Oct 2005 - 5:43am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

PB> "The ideal user experience allows users to:
PB> - explore engaging functionality designed for them specifically;
PB> - use their vocabulary, and accommodate their expectations;
PB> - adapt the functionality to their preferences;
PB> - rely on other media channels for support;
PB> - while making use of previous experience with the company's service."

In addition to the above:
- achieve their goals efficiently and effectively;
- enjoy the time spent interacting with the product or service;
- establish (improve) a strong relationship with the brand.

Lada

ps. "Accommodate user expectations" sounds a bit too basic for the ideal
experience for me; I'd strive for an X-factor -- a little bit of a
pleasant surprise of exceeded expectations.

25 Oct 2005 - 5:58am
Stewart Dean
2004

>From: Lada Gorlenko <lada at acm.org>

>ps. "Accommodate user expectations" sounds a bit too basic for the ideal
>experience for me; I'd strive for an X-factor -- a little bit of a
>pleasant surprise of exceeded expectations.

It's a good idea to aim for something about 'the basic' but that's only
really an option if you can get the basics right. I've worked with many
'creative' agencies who want to innovate and be seen as being creative (in
order to win awards mostly) before they have nailed the basics. The results
are often impressive in the short term but unusable in the short term. Just
my experience.

Stewart Dean

25 Oct 2005 - 6:11am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

>>ps. "Accommodate user expectations" sounds a bit too basic for the ideal
>>experience for me; I'd strive for an X-factor -- a little bit of a
>>pleasant surprise of exceeded expectations.

Stewart said:
SD> It's a good idea to aim for something about 'the basic' but that's only
SD> really an option if you can get the basics right.

and Peter said:
PB> Trick question: Does the sytstem need to surprise every time?

The basics must be in place first, no question.

What I mean by the X-factor is not impressive creativity. Sometimes,
it's the opposite of fanciness: a system that allows the user to do
something easier (cheaper, faster, better) that the user has expected.
The X-factor is when your users say "Groovy! I didn't know the system
can do it for me, thanks!"

Does the system need to pleasantly surprise every time? Definitely yes
at the first few encounters, and from time to time for the rest of its
life. The ideal user experience is like the ideal relationship: your
know your partner inside out after many years of marriage, and the
best bit still comes when he/she can surprise you even then.

Lada

25 Oct 2005 - 7:11am
Mikko-Pekka Hanski
2005

Hi,

Very interesting discussion indeed. For us (Idean Research) the user
experience is very dynamic aspect of user and service/ product interaction.
This means the good user experience is constantly in a changing mode. So how
to define the UE in change. We have been using three dimensions to
understand what 'good user experience' actually to spesific user means.

First dimension is motivation, expectations and goals for the user. This
often refers to first impression. Second dimension is find out the real
actions that users perform with the service/ product. This often refers the
usability. Third dimension is context. This means physical and social
aspects of context: where we are and where we use the products defines
greatly to the 'good user experience'.

As a theoretical model this is quite useful. Our challenge has been to
implement it to real life product development.

Please do go on and discuss what the 'good user experience' actually is.

Mikko-Pekka

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Lada
Gorlenko
Sent: 25. lokakuuta 2005 14:12
To: discuss at ixdg.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] How do you define a 'good' user experience?

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

>>ps. "Accommodate user expectations" sounds a bit too basic for the
>>ideal experience for me; I'd strive for an X-factor -- a little bit of
>>a pleasant surprise of exceeded expectations.

Stewart said:
SD> It's a good idea to aim for something about 'the basic' but that's
SD> only really an option if you can get the basics right.

and Peter said:
PB> Trick question: Does the sytstem need to surprise every time?

The basics must be in place first, no question.

What I mean by the X-factor is not impressive creativity. Sometimes, it's
the opposite of fanciness: a system that allows the user to do something
easier (cheaper, faster, better) that the user has expected.
The X-factor is when your users say "Groovy! I didn't know the system can do
it for me, thanks!"

Does the system need to pleasantly surprise every time? Definitely yes at
the first few encounters, and from time to time for the rest of its life.
The ideal user experience is like the ideal relationship: your know your
partner inside out after many years of marriage, and the best bit still
comes when he/she can surprise you even then.

Lada

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org (Un)Subscription Options ...
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25 Oct 2005 - 8:26am
Mikko-Pekka Hanski
2005

Sorry another post, but I forgot to explain why we have this approach as one
of our basic ideas of UE. Mrs. Anu Kankainen, who is working as Senior User
Experience Specialist at Idean has created this three dimensional model in
her phd and three articles:

Kankainen, A. (2003). UCPCD - User-Centred Product Concept Design. In the
proceedings of DUX03. Designing for User Experiences.

Mäkelä, A., and Fulton Suri, J. (2001). Supporting Users' Creativity: Design
to Induce Pleasurable Experiences. In M.G. Helander, H.M. Khalid, T. Ming Po
(Eds.), Proceedings of International Conference on Affective Human Factors
Design. ASEAN Academic Press, 387- 394.

Kankainen, A. (2002). Thinking Model and Tools for Understanding User
Experience Related to Information Appliance Product Concepts. Acta
Polytechnica Scandinavica. Mathematics and Computing Series No. 118.
Polytechnica Kustannus Oy. http://lib.tkk.fi/Diss/2002/isbn9512263076/

So here is some academic research on the matter.

Thanks,

Mikko-Pekka

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Hi,

Very interesting discussion indeed. For us (Idean Research) the user
experience is very dynamic aspect of user and service/ product interaction.
This means the good user experience is constantly in a changing mode. So how
to define the UE in change. We have been using three dimensions to
understand what 'good user experience' actually to spesific user means.

First dimension is motivation, expectations and goals for the user. This
often refers to first impression. Second dimension is find out the real
actions that users perform with the service/ product. This often refers the
usability. Third dimension is context. This means physical and social
aspects of context: where we are and where we use the products defines
greatly to the 'good user experience'.

As a theoretical model this is quite useful. Our challenge has been to
implement it to real life product development.

Please do go on and discuss what the 'good user experience' actually is.

Mikko-Pekka

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Lada
Gorlenko
Sent: 25. lokakuuta 2005 14:12
To: discuss at ixdg.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] How do you define a 'good' user experience?

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

>>ps. "Accommodate user expectations" sounds a bit too basic for the
>>ideal experience for me; I'd strive for an X-factor -- a little bit of
>>a pleasant surprise of exceeded expectations.

Stewart said:
SD> It's a good idea to aim for something about 'the basic' but that's
SD> only really an option if you can get the basics right.

and Peter said:
PB> Trick question: Does the sytstem need to surprise every time?

The basics must be in place first, no question.

What I mean by the X-factor is not impressive creativity. Sometimes, it's
the opposite of fanciness: a system that allows the user to do something
easier (cheaper, faster, better) that the user has expected.
The X-factor is when your users say "Groovy! I didn't know the system can do
it for me, thanks!"

Does the system need to pleasantly surprise every time? Definitely yes at
the first few encounters, and from time to time for the rest of its life.
The ideal user experience is like the ideal relationship: your know your
partner inside out after many years of marriage, and the best bit still
comes when he/she can surprise you even then.

Lada

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org (Un)Subscription Options ...
http://discuss.ixda.org/ Announcements List .........
http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org (Un)Subscription Options ...
http://discuss.ixda.org/ Announcements List .........
http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
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25 Oct 2005 - 8:42am
Todd Warfel
2003

I think that premise is a bit off. While brand essence/values is
important to marketing and part of the user experience, the goal of a
good user experience is to marry business objectives with customer
goals.

On Oct 25, 2005, at 12:56 AM, Doc wrote:

> The premise of the article is that a 'user experience brief' should
> use as
> its starting point the brand essence/values of the corporation or
> organisation. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Design & Usability Specialist
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Email: twarfel at mac.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------

25 Oct 2005 - 8:52am
Marc Rettig
2004

Hello,
The quality of experience needs to be described in terms of the users /
customers / people themselves. Yes, it connects to brand, and for that
matter it often touches on many parts of the organization.

So I disagree with your starting point. A "user experience brief" should
start with a well-researched (i.e., not made up) understanding of the lives
of the people the site will serve. Quality of experience is a measure of the
degree to which the site helps them achieve their goals, or meets a set of
specific needs, fits into the complexity of their life, or brings them
unexpected pleasure. Our projects often generate a set of "desirable
transformations" -- changes which a design could bring about, the effect of
which we've already evaluated through prototypes, which will both please
people and serve business goals.

My worry is that if you start with brand essence, you'll be trying to please
the marketing department and executives. Often such briefs reference only a
distant fantasy about what "users" are really like.

This may be quite untrue at your organization. I know it is untrue at many.
I'm reacting to the situation I typically encounter when project goals begin
with brand qualities rather than people's lives and activities.

Whatever you feel about the opinions I've just expressed, I expect it will
be difficult to write an article on this subject without noting that there
are at least these two starting points prevalent out there in practice:
using qualitative/behavioral research to discover the measures of quality,
or starting with brand essence and changes the company would like to bring
about in how their brand is perceived. There are of course blended
approaches.

And, in fact, there is a quiet but growing move toward "integrated design
and development" which argues that it's a mistake to center a project on the
point of view of any one department or discipline. I wholeheartedly agree
with this, and endeavor to practice it, with varying levels of success, on
every project. This makes facilitation the hot new skill. But that's another
article <smile>.

Cheers,
Marc Rettig

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Marc Rettig
Fit Associates
412-215-0026 cell
marc at fitassociates.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Doc
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 12:57 AM
To: discuss at ixdg.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] How do you define a 'good' user experience?

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Hello everyone,

I am working on a piece for a marketing magazine about designing the user
experience for corporate Web sites. I have a question for the list's
resident practitioners: at the start of a project, how do you define the
desired user experience for the site?

The premise of the article is that a 'user experience brief' should use as
its starting point the brand essence/values of the corporation or
organisation. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.

All the best,

Steve Baty
Senior Analyst, Red Square
www.redsquare.com <http://www.redsquare.com>
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://discuss.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

25 Oct 2005 - 9:20am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

MR> And, in fact, there is a quiet but growing move toward "integrated
MR> design and development" which argues that it's a mistake to center
MR> a project on the point of view of any one department or discipline.

I very much agree. A UCD version known as "Integrated UCD", uses the
following definition of user experience (UX): "Everything the customer
sees, hears and touches" [1]. Using a product as such becomes only
part of the experience, with other parts being finding, ordering,
getting, unpacking, installing, using help, getting technical support,
upgrading... and you may add_to/remove_from the set as you see fit
your specific *offering* (mind the word, this is not just about the
"product" any more). In simple terms, if UPS delays your Amazon order,
it affects your Amazon experience (likewise, if UPS delivers much
faster than it should for the same price, your give brownie points to
Amazon, not UPS).

In Integrated UCD, basic UCD team roles/skills include (again,
add/remove according to the offering and specifics of your business):
- UX design lead (integrating everyone else's work into coherent UX);
- User assistance architect (aka User Researcher);
- Interaction designer;
- Industrial designer (for hardware) or Information architect (Web,
CMS, etc.) --> [the IA addition is mine, not in original text];
- Visual designer;
- Technology architect (that's the guy who specifies the underlying
technology solution required to implement the desired experience);
- Marketing specialist (defines the market audience and brand
relationship);
- Service and support specialist;
- Internationalisation and terminology (if applicable);
- Usability engineer.

I have to admit that I've never been on a project that had ALL the
above specialists in a room at the same time (do dream teams ever
exist?), but the more you get involved, the better. Marketing and
Technology Architects are equally challenging types to work with, but
both are essential to successful user experince of a commercial
offering.

Lada

[1]. Vredenburg K., Insensee S., Righi C. (2002) User-Centered Design:
An Integrated Approach.

25 Oct 2005 - 10:18am
Tom Ollar
2005

>
>I am working on a piece for a marketing magazine about designing the user
>experience for corporate Web sites
>
The best articles I've ever read came directly from the horse's mouth, hay
breath and all...

25 Oct 2005 - 11:09am
Chris Rivard
2005

This is a question for which I have not found a good answer.

My thoughts are that a positive user experience is based on the "low
threshold of completion" of a required task.
This originates with the desired goals and determined through research.

For a desktop application, perhaps the user has to locate and annotate
documents. What are the barriers to complete these tasks?
How can the tasks be simplified or be made more enjoyable?

Marketing/branding is a completely different beast, more difficult in my
opinion. In addition to creating a favorable experience to task
completion (buy the product), the user must be influenced to reach a
decision where they will choose to begin a task.

I think the two are completely different - for an e-commerce website,
the priority is the lowering of the barrier to complete the task.
Secondary is creating the "branding" experience that will motivate the
user to begin the task - this is marketing.

Best Regards,
Chris

--
Christopher Rivard
Clearwired Web Services

5345 Wyoming NE Suite 200C
Albuquerque, NM 87109

office/ 505.217.3505
mobile/ 505.301.4010
toll-free/ 866.430.2832
fax/ 505.217.3506

e/ chris at clearwired.com
w/ www.clearwired.com

25 Oct 2005 - 7:29pm
Anthony Colfelt
2005

"....at the start of a project, how do you define the
desired user experience for the site?

The premise of the article is that a 'user experience brief' should use as
its starting point the brand essence/values of the corporation or
organisation..."

The operative words here are "desired" and "defined". I agree that Brand has
a big part to play here but when you say 'define' do you mean 'specify' or
do you mean 'speculate' as in 'set a vision'? I'm assuming the latter and I
appreciate you're trying to write for a marketing audience, so...

To break it down into its simplest elements, you really need to know what
the goals are – for the corporation and for the user. Intended brand voice
is the conduit between these two and can help to make a "user experience".
For example, If your company has playful brand attributes then the language,
interaction and visual design need to be playful.

But it is important not to lose sight of what the user actually needs to get
done. Putting obstacles in the path of a user on task, whether they meet
company objectives or not, will add a new brand attribute to your image –
"Frustrating". Put enough obstacles in the way and "Infuriating" will
eclipse "Playful" or whatever your brand may be about. This alludes to
Austin's point, that "Brand Aint Brand". That would make an interesting
article in itself, but suffice to say that brand is user experience, and I'm
not just referring to the web-borne variety of UE. You cannot separate the
two and marketeers would love to think that their brands represent a certain
set of attributes, but the real brand doesn't live within the company. It
lives within the customers head as a perception of the company.

So the real message to drive home is, you absolutely, categorically, must
know what users need to achieve with your online presence, or you stand to
damage your brand. You may add elements to surprise and delight your users
and drive home your core brand values, but don't do it at the expense of
them fulfilling their goals. Balance all that with business objectives and
you've got a knock-out punch.

--
Anthony Colfelt
http://www.colfelt.com

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