Build a triumphant product with Experience Design

By Akash Agrawal, Co-Founder, Sahaj Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd

Looking to inject some innovation into your product lifecycle? You’ve developed “awesome” software that nobody uses? Limited by your tech stack? Need to understand your customer’s mind a bit better? Enter Experience Design (XD). No, it isn’t the panacea of all software development ills, but can surely help kick start the process of customer inspection and disruptive thinking. 

Here are 4 factors by which Experience Design can improve your chances of building a successful product or service.

XD Rattles the innovation DNA- Brings focus and viability to disruptive thinking
Businesses often go down the path of redefining product or services when competing with disruption from start-ups, competitive benchmarking, brand elevation, cost benefit, operational efficiency or concerning levels of quality. Of these, the need to generate new, innovative and disruptive ideas is often imperative to business success and survivability through an increase in market share, market share continuity, price increase, increased ROI, etc.

A customer-centered business realizes that good designers can help increase the probability of successful outcomes that improve the quality of the user’s life and bring value to the organization.

XD Is Inclusive. It aligns Business with the Customer
Irrespective of what the business goal is, or how cool the technology showcase is, the product or the service is ultimately aimed at the customers or users. Startups and innovation-driven organizations are more likely to run with concepts that aim to solve some functional problem or bank on the technical brilliance of an idea or a concept. The fact that it can be done becomes the critical factor, often overtaking how it will be used. Even the idea of who will use it, is really superficial.

The success of any product or service pivots on one critical factor- the way user perceive the end result, the whole package. Is the product intuitive? Is it easy to interact with? Does it help me do my job in the least amount of time with maximum accuracy? Is it reliable? Designers bring in investigative tools and techniques that help them get a comprehensive understanding of the users and what they value, including their goals, abilities and limitations. Users are seldom able to correctly identify the need. They however, recognize the value of the product or service interaction they are missing and Experience Design with user-focused research techniques provides that essential connection of business with the user. 

XD brings the focus back to the idea, with technology as the enabler
While technology should be viewed as the enabler of creativity and innovation, it isn’t long before organizations get stuck in a rut of technical lethargy. It’s quite easy to design solutions that fall within the technical capabilities – either of the organization or the resources that build it. While blue-sky design decisions cannot be taken in isolation, it is the designers’ prerogative and skill set to think creatively beyond the technology constraints and then work with the technologists to narrow down the ones that are feasible.

Innovative approaches to technology have helped the designers to think of different approaches to training, portability, ease of use, maintenance, repair and sustainability - making the product suitable for use in some of the most difficult environments. As customers and end users interact with businesses through vast multi-faceted digital platforms, businesses need to implement technologies that make the customer experience more useful, feasible, seamless or engaging. But, new technologies are not just about making things easier for the customer; brand affinity and loyalty rank high on the list when it comes to what technology should deliver. 

XD brings in viability, feasibility and usability within the context of use
Irrespective of domain, the context of a system is made of three elements: the task being completed, characteristics of the user, and the physical environment that the system operates in. For instance, the inventory stock management tablets designed for warehousing and supply chain management purposes will need to be smudge proof. The mobile screen designed, needs to be really thin and will also needs to support ergonomics of an oil rig employee.

Great products and services designed without the investigations of the customer environment do result in failure. A great example of design in context would be the Embrace Infant Warmer. Designers prototyped this device that costs 99% less than an incubator, has the potential to save millions of newborns that could die every day due to Hypothermia. The team initially thought reducing the cost of parts, materials and technology could solve the problem for rural developing countries. The device is a reality today and gives a fighting chance to infants in remote villages where accesses to such facilities are unavailable.

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