With the upcoming MX: Managing Experience conference that will focus on usability and user experience best practices, we'd like like to revisit the three key variables Jared Spool once indicated as being critically important to the field.
Managing User Experience
In San Francisco from March 7-8, MX: Managing Experience will work to improve customer experiences on the web, mobile and more. The featured keynote at MX is none other than Jared Spool, founding principal of User Interface Engineering. Spool, a contributing writer for CMSWire, has spent much of his life researching usability and experience design.
While he will no doubt captivate the MX audience with insights about usability, we’d like to revisit the three key variables Spool once indicated as being critically important to the field. He wrote about them in 2008, but they still resonate and remind us that while emerging trends may confound us, applying tried and true methods can help us all develop new solutions.
The Three Questions for Great Experience Design
These three crucial questions can shed light about how you and your team work to address issues of vision, feedback and culture. Spool says “teams that answer these questions well are far more likely to create great experiences than the rest of the pack.”
Question 1: What will the experience be like five years from now?
While we all work towards a goal, it’s imperative to make sure that everyone not only understands the goal, but is also able to articulate it in such a way that illustrates how the user will interact and complete the transaction.
Looking ahead five years ensures that the actions go beyond the “immediate reactive requirements and starts considering what a great experience could be.”
Question 2: In the last six weeks, have your team members spent at least two hours watching people experience your product or service?
It goes without saying that if you’re focused on user experience, learning how people engage online requires observation. If you’re not watching, you can’t advance their experience. From usability tests or field studies, it’s necessary to spend at least two hours observing the current experience.
Question 3: In the last six weeks, have you celebrated the problems discovered in the user experience?
Spool believes that problems become opportunities for improvement. Establishing a culture that accepts failure, as well as appreciates it as a way to learn about the users and their needs, can learn best from their mistakes.
Ultimately, by making the learning process explicit — offering rewards and acknowledgment for finding bugs — the culture starts to look for it.
If you don’t know what’s wrong with a user experience you can’t fix it. Improving behaviors starts with the vision and leads to observing users’ actions and results in finding and fixing mistakes. There isn’t a cookie cutter for approaching usability. Furthermore, you can’t begin to understand others’ behaviors without defining what you want them to be.
As we dig deeper into usability design in 2010, the questions posed to us nearly two years ago are still relevant.