Why is User Experience Design important
This question is asked regularly, by management, sales, development, and other people that are often responsible for deciding if UX will actively be part of the project. And without someone who actually has some experience with it, this question might be difficult to be answered. And because it really is important, i will try to provide some answers.
The answers I provide will be based on projects using Application Lifecycle Management which basically means that you have three parts. The first is Business, where you define the requirements. The second is Development, where you build and test the application. And the third is Operations, where the application is used and supported. From the last you can go back to business and repeat the cycle, or you can end the use of the application (end-of-life).
First an answer for the management. If you want to convince them for implementing UX in the project, they will have to see that it is a value-added asset. And this is why:
- Improved requirements
If you want to use UX in your project, you must use this from the very early stage of your project. By adding Wireframes, Interface design, Interaction design, Rapid prototyping and User testing. You can better serve your client because now you can show him what can be expected. This is indeed an extra investment and extends the requirement period, but if you do this right, it will be worth it right when you enter the development stage. Development time will be decreased and with it the development cost, and it will bring you to the next reason.
- Faster time-to-market
Because you have significant increased the quality of your documentation, the development time of the application will be decreased. You will experience less last-minute changes and unseen flaws. Your testing will be faster and better because of the improved documentation. With all this you can deliver your application much faster. In fact, if your project team gets more experienced of working this way, you will compensate the extra time you’ve invested in the requirement period.
- Increased value per user
Once the application is deployed, the users of it will be able to work better, faster en with less mistakes because the interface is specifically designed to their needs and way of working. New employees will need less time to learn the application as a good user interface will explain itself. Thus overall you can see that the output per user increases with the implementation of a good User Experience Design.
- Extended application life
The life of an application is also increased. Applications with no interface- and user experience design often end up to be replaced earlier than applications which have both designs. This because the application does not function as well as expected. Users will complain about this and therefore will ask for something that will work better. With enough complains, the application will be replaced. With a good UX the complains will be reduced to a minimum so it stays in business for a longer amount of time before a replacement is needed.
Why is using UX better for development? First of all, you start development with a much better functional and technical design. You have less last-minute changes and unseen flaws, so the time needed for building will be decreased. I think every developer would very much like the idea that he doesn’t have to do things twice.
Ideality you would like to let the interface be build by someone who is a specialist in designing and implementing interfaces. When working with WPF / Silverlight, I often see three roles. A designer, a developer and the one who stands in between, who’s called an Integrator. I will tell more about these roles in future blog-posts.
It is proven that working this way in development, where you treat front- and backend separate, has resulted in better applications and happier people that were involved. That alone is a very good reason for using UX.
And the final part, why UX is better for the customer. Here are some reasons:
- Visual feedback
The most important, i think, is the way how you communicate with your client. Because you not only will have text for describing his wishes, he can actually see what it will be once it’s finished. By drawing wireframes, making an interaction and interface design, prototyping suggested functionality, you allow him to get a far better impression then with text alone. And because of that, he also can see and explain why and where things needs to be changed. If you are prototyping, you can also test if his request works. Prototyping will also remove assumptions, which is always good when trying to work you way to a solution.
- Increased value per user
As i explained in the management part above, the application will increase the productivity of your users. In the perfect world, you will actually build an application that will work for the user, instead of, what most users experience now, that they work for the system. When you achieve that kind of application, you will dramatically increase the amount of work a user can generate for the customer. But with a good UX, you can get pretty close.
I hope this provides some answers and a bit more insight in why User Experience Design actually is so important. Without it, the most impressive applications can fail in real live, because no-one knows how to use it.