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User Experience; not just for websites!

You would be forgiven for thinking that user experience is a web only field. Certainly a lot of companies do not step away from the traditional thinking of “UX = web” but it is that thinking that can hold them back from their full potential.

The most successful entrepreneurs tend to recognise that their products are about crafting experiences; anyone can copy a template of success and find ways of making their competing product cheaper, but an experience is much more difficult to copy cheaply. Take a look at the experience of opening an Apple Product; you feel like you are holding a quality product in your hand even before you have turned it on. Everything oozes sleek sophistication and highly engineered simplicity, and that is just the packaging! It’s not just Apple who benefits from this though. Even companies like Starbucks invest millions in research into this area, and research has found that the packaging affects the perception of quality. The feel of the cup can make the same beverage taste better.

It is difficult for another company to give as good an experience with the packaging, but by no means impossible. However, all too often the temptation to try to copy an experience rather than craft one of their own leads them down the path to failure. If they get it right, then they are simply a copy, albeit a high quality knock-off. If they do not, then they are even less favourably compared.

The experience of the user should convey the message and image of the company, whether that is in a website, a piece of software, or a physical product. In fact, if somebody uses the product, whatever that product is, you want the experience to be well crafted. After all, would you feel well disposed towards a company that told you it did not care about you every time you tried to use it’s products?

I did not think so.

Neuroscientists can predict your behavior better than you can

It’s a well known fact that people are unreliable when it comes to knowing what they want, and what they will do.

A human can decide to do something, and then fail to follow up on that decision, often without realising it until much later. Furthermore, they can decide that they won’t do something, only to go ahead and do so. As a species we are pretty bad at predicting our own behaviour, because we often do not realise that our predictions have been so off-base.

If UX researchers could routinely only have access to fMRI scans of users, I wonder what we would learn.