What is UX

What is UX?

And why it’s essential for your organisation.

In the weirdest pre-Christmas time ever, and after a negative corona test combined with an offer to be picked up directly, I finally agreed to visit my family in Copenhagen.

Staying for a couple of days, just as always, I started looking for things around the house to fix. This time, it was the office.

While cleaning up the office and thinking of how to approach setting it up, I realised that what I was doing was not different than what I do in my line of work. In fact, it turned out to be an excellent demonstration of it.

With that being said, this is a good opportunity for those who still wonder or fear misinterpreting UX to finally understand what it actually is.

Knowing Your Users

In this case: old-fashioned individuals with close-to-zero knowledge of technology. I knew exactly how limited their patience for understanding how things work is. And being familiar with their inability to move around too much, I took the necessary measures to address that.

Keeping in mind the outcomes they want to achieve with the help of technology, I narrowed my focus to the experience they would benefit from the most.

The Final Result

At the time of writing this, I was still expecting my users for their first test. Therefore, the result illustrated in the picture below is not yet final.

The Customer Journey

My users go to the office with their laptop regularly, as well as when they receive an important email. The reason they go to the office is to print the email or document they have received, just so they can read it in their hands. Their session may take a while due to a full inbox or an occasional call.

1. The Printer

As the main focal point of the customer journey, I knew that the printer should be easily accessible while seated on the desk chair, as well as presented in the simplest way possible: a single cable coming out of the printer that needs to be connected to the computer; no additional cables suggesting the requirement of additional action in order to print.

2. The Lamp

Since the session can occur at different times of the day which suggests a different natural light setting, I placed the lamp next to the printer, where the printed sheet of paper is expected to be read. I also made sure that the lamp switch is accessible from a seating position.

3. The Phone

From previous observations, I knew that phone calls may occur during printing. As the phone was already on the desk, I pulled it closer to the chair to save any unnecessary reposition of the user in case of an incoming call.

4. Random Items

As a result of the lack of knowledge I had for the sheets of paper and various items on the desk, I did not remove them entirely but put them together at the far left side of the desk. The intention was to observe whether the user will go the extra mile to reach for some of the items during the planned test later in the evening.

5. Printer Cable

Due to the 50% chance (sometimes 33.3%) to get a USB cable correctly inserted into a device, I placed a label indicating the correct side. Additionally, I drew an arrow indicating the direction the cable should go in just to trigger an affirmation of success when the cable is in its final position – plugged into the computer.

6. USB Slot

Considering that having 11 different slots on the computer could be overwhelming for a user that utilises up to 2 of them (for charging and printing), I put a label above the USB slot used to connect to the printer. I also drew an arrow indicating where the exact location of the slot is.

7. Printer to Laptop Connection

Once connected, the two labels should come together, indicating a proper connection between the laptop and the printer. An additional touch was to select a red colour for the labels just so they differ from any physical feature of the computer as well as any item on the desk. This way, during the first-ever session, the user’s attention would be attracted to the only 2 colours that differ from everything else on the desk, signalising an action. In any later session, the user is expected to remember the action but still benefit from the simplicity of the guidelines provided.

Conclusion

Although explained in this unambiguous way, this is basically how UX works. While obviously far more than prettifying (as it’s often dismissed), UX is the force dealing with the ever-increasing complexities organisations are facing.

Throughout my years as a UXer, I’ve observed many individuals and companies believing they have an understanding of their product and what it can do. Although that may be true, they often have misconceptions of their users and what exactly it is their users want to achieve.

That’s indeed what leads teams into misalignment to do the right thing, or alignment to do the wrong thing, ultimately resulting in bad, or in some cases unusable products.