Who are you designing for?

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Everyone has an opinion about what is good and what is bad design. While some people will find bright contrasting colours appealing, others may find them distracting.

While some may find signing up before being able to use a free service frustrating, others could find that same requirement pleasant. Knowing what works for customers and ensuring that their experience at every stage of the sales lifecycle is a positive experience is a core focus of businesses today.

The job of achieving this positive experience has been tasked to the modern-day User Experience Designer (UX Designer). Their responsibility is to ensure that customer engagements with a product or service are a positive and addictive one. An experience that is positive will lead to improved sales and greater customer loyalty and retention. A good UX is also an important source of sustainable competitive advantage over competitors. It’s all quite straight forward, except… that it’s not.

You see, it doesn’t matter how incredible your UX Designer is, he or she cannot design an experience. Imagine a person standing in line at a pub. Let’s call this person John. The pub has spent considerable time working on ensuring that John has a wonderful experience. So, in the beginning John is enjoying his time waiting in line, but then from out of nowhere a man comes and pushes into the line before him. All of a sudden, the wonderful UX design has been thrown away. A mere mortal simply cannot control all the variables that exist in the real world. So, a UX Designer cannot design an experience that is consistent every single time, instead what he or she can do is design for an experience.

Designing for an experience is not an easy task. First and foremost, it is vital to remember that just because you feel that an experience is good, doesn’t mean everyone around you shares that opinion. So UX designers spend a considerable amount of their time researching. In the field of UX, research is the king. Good UX designers spend a considerable amount of time researching their subject areas. The designs that come out of the research are built, tested, and tweaked until the perfect user experience has been defined.

There is also another problem, which is that no single person has the immense depth of knowledge required to successfully design for an entire experience. To do that you’d need a user researcher, information architect, user interface designer, usability tester, and a UX designer at the least. Sure, you don’t have to have every one of the above roles being played by different individuals, but it would be reckless to assume that one single person can perform all of the above-mentioned roles efficiently.

There is a lot that goes into the creation of a great customer experience and despite this being an absolutely vital part of the customer lifecycle we tend to see high impact decisions being made based on ego’s rather than research. So, we need to remember that we are not designing our experience, we are designing customer experience.

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About Author

Mehrdad Behroozi

Mehrdad (Merv) Behroozi is general manager of Hamilton graphic design and web development company E9. Phone: 07 838 1188 | Email: merv@e9.nz