Business apps now need to do what they say they will and in doing so, they must delight the user. Ideally, security products should be so easy and intuitive that users have no reason to use anything else – so avoiding workarounds, a key tenet of good cybersecurity.
When designing new products, the User Experience is key. But what do we mean by user experience and why is it so important? Daniel Hermoso, Product Designer at Armour Comms explains.
What is User Experience?
User Experience, or UX for short, encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with a company, its services and its products. In essence the whole of the customer journey. This is a more holistic way of looking at user interactions than simply through the user interface (UI). It covers such elements as how people access a product, how they install it, what the processes are and how easy and intuitive it all is. Taking a user experience approach to design means that we look at how well the product integrates with other systems, we think about the navigation and is it simple to use, does the product work in the way that the user expects it do, or is there unnecessary friction that requires additional steps, and when a user encounters a problem what is the support like.
Whether by design or by default, every product or service we interact with delivers an experience to our users and end customers.
Why does it matter?
Many of us have mixed feelings about the products and services we use every day. They can either empower us to do our jobs better or leave us frustrated when they fail to meet our needs or requirements. In short, they have the ability to complicate or simplify our lives.
As alluded to above, a good UX is particularly important for security products, like the ones we develop at Armour. Not only must they do a better job in terms of data security than consumer apps, but they must match in terms of usability too.
So what makes a good user experience?
Aarron Walter in his book of Designing for Emotion, describes a hierarchy of user needs that closely mirrors Maslow’s hierarchy. In it he outlines that in order to achieve superior needs such as delight or pleasure, more foundational needs must be met first such as functionality and usability.
When people think about well designed products, usually they think about the aesthetics (such as the user interface). Is the product pleasing to look at or does it feel good to the touch? Yet designing products with user experience in mind means looking much deeper, beyond the aesthetics, at the hierarchy of user needs.
It starts with function, the need solve a problem. A beautiful product that fails meet basic user needs is not viable. Sometimes this is forgotten and can cause issues as product teams invest a lot of time and effort building something nobody wants to use.
Second, the product must be reliable. Can we count on it to deliver the actions or service that our users are expecting? Does it consistently perform well. This is important because it builds trust with customers and improves user engagement.
Usability is key because it assesses how easy products are to use. It aims to remove all barriers that prevent efficient human-computer interactions. The product and services need to be easy to learn, easy to use and easy to remember.
In a highly competitive market, it’s no longer enough to design products that simply meet the basic utility needs. It’s critical to design a purposeful and memorable experience that people will enjoy.
Having recently watched the Great British Bake Off, I like to think of the user experience in the same way that the bakes are judged. You can always tell which bakes failed during the process just by looking at them. However to sort out the best from the rest you have to understand the process. What ingredients were used and every step it took achieve the outcome. Only by tasting the bake can the judges distinguish the true masterpiece.
In much the same way, only by applying UX principles to product design, where a foundation of function, reliability, and usability are achieved, can we expect to deliver a truly delightful experience to the user. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Daniel Hermoso is Product Designer at Armour Comms