I had the privilege to be part of the UX panel for iRetail World Asia 2013 alongside Sean Seah (MD of Groupon Travel Asia Pacific) and Marco Ryan (MD of Accenture Interactive ASEAN, Accenture). It was a fruitful session and serve as a good reminder that we have lots to strive for. Here are my responses, more or less, to some questions directed towards me.
What exactly is UX?
There’s a bunch of definition out there but if I can sum it up, through my experience both as a practitioner and manager, user experience at the very core is a process. A process of discovery, vision setting, strategy, planning, execution, measurement and iteration.
What do we mean when we say that we would like to focus on user experience?
The common understanding when it comes to UX, especially in the digital space, is the focus on visual and interaction design. You have your UI, usability, journey map and so on. Though that is generally correct, more often than not we misses the cradle point that guides us through that process. One needs to focus not just on tasks (features, products) but more so on the experience, and by that I mean a deep understanding of people, their activities and the context of those activities. It’s a progression on just being functional, reliable, usable and convenient but ultimately towards being pleasurable and meaningful. So, the question really is, how is our product pleasurable and meaningful today?
How do you determine whether people will buy your product/use your feature before you built it?
Short answer to this is validate early, validate often. One of the main core competencies of an awesome UX designer is the obsession of validating hypotheses. Instead of thinking of a product as a series of features to be built, we need to look at them as a set of hypotheses to be validated. In other words, we don’t assume that we know what user wants. It’s not about fulfilling the product owner’s vision.
How to discern the difference between necessary features and nice-to-haves?
Over at RedMart, we try to use a simple model called Kano to distinguish between basic and differentiating features. It’s a simple two-axis grid, comparing product investment with customer satisfaction. In the model, we see 3 types of features; Basic Expectations (high investment, low customer satisfaction), Satisfiers (so-so investment, so-so satisfaction) and Delighters (low investment, high satisfaction).
Delighters are what we are seeking for and we strive to identify features that the market misses on all of these fronts. An example would be speed. We take seriously how fast our customers are able to browse our site.