The role of research in the design process, or how companies don’t care about UX
Analyzing the user experience as we do more and more things online seems to be a key ingredient in the recipe for success. Meanwhile, as many as 83 percent. companies face obstacles in this field. Mostly they are as prosaic as lack of time and money. There is also a lack of competence and awareness of the benefits of proper design hygiene.
User Experience (UX), i.e. the whole experience, feelings, impressions of the user while using a product, service or application, is an element – as experts emphasise – that should be examined and checked at each stage of development and subsequent use.
– User Experience is still a term misunderstood by many people, which is often confused with product design or user interface. Of course design was, is and will be important, but the key is to understand user needs. Even the biggest digital giants have made at least one mistake: they don’t care enough about UX. Google or Microsoft had to withdraw from several projects, because they did not adapt to customers. Nokia even had to almost fold the business – explains Wojciech Chojnacki, Strategy Director at Symetria, creator of Design Leaders Masterclass, the first international development program for UX/CX/SD leaders in Poland.
Instill UX into every project
User experience evaluation is a multidimensional and complex process that includes activities such as research and behavioral discovery. Learning about customer motivations and needs through observation, analysis, and other types of opinion and behavioral research plays a key role in it. But no less important aspect is to create a professional area in the company for UX activities. It is necessary to have competent employees who „ll instill” in every project actions, who will notice the need for thoughtful UX actions from the very beginning of product life.
– In my profession, working every day with people who are very experienced in using services and applications, we can easily fall into a belief that things that are obvious to us, will be clear to all users. By taking UX factors into account, the CANAL+ online service, which we launched in May 2020, is designed for audiences with very different levels of experience in using on-demand content online – explains Maciej Ostrowski, manager of OTT and VOD services in Canal+, who gained his first experience in creating personnel „sensitive” to UX on the Symmetria course.
Such actions are supposed to follow the motto of Steve Jobs, the undisputed guru of the UX world and founder of Apple, who argues that any creative process whose aim is to deliver a product to the customer must start with experience design, and only then can you move on to technological creation. – You can’t start with technology and then try to figure out where you can sell it – Jobs used to say.
Front to the client. Always
Milkshake, a specialist digital improvement analytics agency, examined how Dutch companies approach UX. Over 300 representatives of companies from industries such as IT, finance, industry, e-commerce, health or education were interviewed. The results are a bit surprising, as only two-thirds of these companies conduct UX research, but almost all, 98%, indicate that it is essential to the development of products and services created by their companies. Among companies that perform UX analysis, as many as 64% have been doing so for less than five years.
– This confirms the relatively low maturity of the field and the huge room for further work. Companies with higher UX research awareness, on the other hand, use a wider range of UX research methods and report more positive results in their business area. There is a greater focus on UX in those companies where there is clear responsibility for conducting analysis. In short – if you have a user experience design professional on your team, you get better results – explains Wojciech Chojnacki from Symetria.
Agnieszka Racja, Senior Project Manager at the Volvo Group, adds that managers not only have to take care of the implementation of UX aspects, but also how to manage it at a later stage. – Just hiring a UX/UI Designer and sending them to the front end is not enough. Awareness, skills and support from the project manager can properly anchor and strengthen the UX area in further product development – says Rajca.
Dutch study clearly shows where the biggest UX advantages are. Prominent among them is that as many as 87% of companies adopt a user-centric business strategy, and this results in higher customer satisfaction (54%) and more relevant product development (51%). Almost half of all companies (48%) also appreciate more efficient work processes and better decision-making thanks to UX research.
However, implementation of UX best practices still has a long way to go in most companies. Of all the Dutch companies interviewed, as many as 83% experience one or more barriers to implementing UX research, with time constraints being the biggest challenge.
– Tak, first I had to go through UX training, but I don’t regret a second of it, because learning about UX changes the way of thinking, sensitizes to various aspects that we don’t necessarily pay attention to. UX broadens horizons – notes Karolina Królikowska, UX specialist. mBank S systems management.A. It adds: – After completing the UX-PM course, I began to take a completely different approach to gathering demand and designing solutions. Turned my way of thinking around. I started asking prospective users very different questions than before, and this led me much more quickly to conclusions that I could transfer to the solution I was building.
Looking at the investment plans of the companies analyzed by Milkshake, it is clear that the growing presence of UX research in companies has not yet peaked: 49% of companies with UX research plans to invest more, and only 3% of companies intend to invest less in UX research practices compared to the previous year. The report also found that larger companies (51-250 and 250+ employees) conduct UX research relatively more often than their smaller counterparts.
Meanwhile, according to analyst firm NelsonHall, the market size of the global User Experience (but also User Interface) industry was $5.3 billion in 2019, but is expected to at least double and exceed ten billion by 2022.