Cognitive experience design or #CognitiveXD is the practice of using artificial intelligence (ai) technologies to reduce the human mental effort and time required to complete a task.
Design is in the eye of a technological, social and cultural storm, revolutionizing how we interact with the world around us. Its impact on business is the difference between disrupting, or being disrupted, as a new design method dictates which brands win and which lose. Central to it all is customer experience, the benchmark of a brand’s value.
As important as it is to have people with the right skills and appropriate team structure to implement user-centered design, it is just as important to facilitate a good design process. An effective design process involves several phases: researching, designing, prototyping, testing, and iterating.
Designing for users presupposes that the product development team understands the users it is targeting. True understanding comes from extensive qualitative and quantitative research, which help the team identify market segments and user needs, behaviors, and attitudes.
A fundamental premise of bringing design into the development process is that design happens before programming begins. If the foundation is flawed, corrections can be difficult to make after coding begins. During the design phase, objectives and features are not only defined, but also who the target user is, what their goals are, what the context of use is, and what the task requirements are. As mentioned earlier, design tradeoffs are made based on the business case for the product, so it is important to establish the business goals upfront. During this phase it is important that the team consider the product in terms of goals, which are generally more descriptive than features.
As the product evolves from a conceptual framework and interaction model, it is important to create prototypes of the design. Prototypes not only help communicate the design, but also help the team visualize the design and understand task flow. They are also useful for gathering user feedback throughout the design process, whether they are storyboards or interactive mockups.
Low-fidelity prototypes may be created using pencil and paper or in Visio. Such prototypes are useful for visualizing and getting user feedback on task organization or conceptual ideas. Hi-fidelity prototypes are more operational and allow the team to get feedback on the mechanics of user interaction.
User testing during the design process offers many benefits. Feedback from user testing can provide input into the current design, future releases, and related products, and offer general lessons about usability that might be applicable across the entire network. It can also provide the development team insight into the user’s perceptions, satisfaction, questions, problems, and general use. More specific information about user research methods can be found in the next section.
Rarely is a product team going to nail down the best solution on the first try. Therefore, it is important to allow for time to iterate on the design so the team has an opportunity to modify the design based on user feedback. The more the design can be refined upfront before coding, the more time spent on development can be saved. Of course, additional lead time is needed for the design team to design, prototype, test, and iterate, so involving UED upfront and early is imperative to fostering user-centered design.
Throughout the development cycle, feedback and input from users is gathered to ensure that the design is based on real data, and not the product development team’s imagination about what users do.
Using this method enables the efficient design of effective interactive systems as UCD expedites and simplifies gathering user feedback and incorporates it into the design process.
Specifically, user-centered design means that product teams start by observing and working with its users. Throughout the design process, users judge whether the product meets their requirements by evaluating prototypes.
After a period of iterative evaluation and design, the technology is built to fit the mockups.
User-centered design is about describing the whole user experience, not just what the users see on the page. It is about relating user goals to application functions, as opposed to taking requirements from someone and turning out web pages.
The deliverable for user-centered design is a product that is useful, usable, and desirable to users, not just the final HTML, programming, or implementation.
Note that user-centered design is different from and complementary to market research. Market research strives to answer the question, “What product should be built?” Marketing knows what customers are asking for, what drives their behavior at the point of sale, what they will pay for, and what determines their purchasing habits.
User Experience, on the other hand, knows what customers or clients actually do, what makes a product simple or difficult, usable or not. Thus, User Experience is better suited to answer the question, “How should the product be designed?”
Marketing, User Experience, and Engineering offer a spectrum of perspectives in product development. Creating the right synergy between these functions so that a successful product is built is not an easy task.