At UI UX Training, we do not consider ourselves branding experts. Yet, we should not overlook the role branding plays in shaping a company’s approach to user experience and the resulting UI design.
The reverse is also true. In certain corporate cultures, UX practitioners can contribute to a successful branding effort. In this article about usage-based branding the authors distinguish between conventional and digital approaches to branding.
While companies traditionally focus on positioning their brands in the minds of their customers, a digital approach shifts the emphasis to positioning brands in the lives of customers.
Furthermore, companies that take this digital approach engage customers more as users than as buyers. This approach shifts the emphasis from pre-purchase promotion and sales toward post-purchase renewal and advocacy. Sound familiar? It should if you are a UX practitioner or someone who participates in design and UX research.
Like “strategy” and “analytics,” the term “design” suffers from misuse. In this McKinsey report about design practices that deliver business value, the authors explain that design is not just about making objects pretty. Design is the process of understanding customer needs and then creating aproduct or service—physical, digital, or both—that addresses their unmet needs. It sounds simple, but it’s actually a high bar; the design must simultaneously achieve functional utility, emotional connection, and ease of use, while fitting into customers’ broader experience.
We agree. Our focus at UI UX Training is the first part of this equation, helping clients understand customers’ current and unmet needs with rigorous UX research.
Verónica Reyero’s interview with Google Senior UX Researcher Faitmah Richmond offers useful insights into design anthropology as a discipline that “provides an ever-evolving tool set for generating insights that ensure the human remains central in the quest to solve the right complex business problems.”
Richmond takes stakeholder interviews to a new level. Before embarking on research with users, she researches her team members in an effort to uncover each person’s subculture.
Read this short article to learn more about design anthropology and Richmond’s predictions for the world designers will face in 2050.
UX Research Systems
In Democratizing UX author Tomer Sharon explains how he and his team developed Polaris, a database housing research findings they call “nuggets.” These nuggets are the data that help Sharon and his colleagues prioritize projects, gather insights as a project progresses, and allocate resources in an effective and efficient manner. Everyone in the company can consume, create, and curate nuggets. Sharon is justifiably proud of his team’s effort to house and actually use UX UI research.
In Creating a UX Research System author and practitioner Tamás Virágh outlines his firm’s ambitious effort to develop the research equivalent of a design system. He gets right to the point as he explains why conducting UX research is not enough.
With research in hand, the next step is to create a commonly accepted research system, where information is stored in a consistent and searchable way.
He’s right, of course. How many UX studies are collecting virtual dust as we speak? Read this article to learn how to store, collect, and connect quantitative and qualitative data that you and your team can leverage to affect real change in your organization.
UX Research: Going to the Extreme
Harnessing the power of extreme consumers: While not new, the idea of interviewing extreme users and customers is somewhat controversial. Supporters point to the power of:
- Product rejecters who may articulate what more moderate users feel but never express.
- Countries or regions with extreme markets that may serve as informal centers of innovation from frugal innovation in Africa to aging consumers in Japan.
- Hyper-attentive consumers who find solutions such as obsessive cleaners who wrapped toilet brushes in toilet paper to minimize contamination which, in turn, led to flush-away disposable covers for brush heads
Skeptics claim that innovation most often occurs incrementally based on wide-ranging UX research rather than through eureka moments.
At UI UX Training, we’re not aware of hard data that supports either side though we have witnessed the strong impression extreme consumers make on clients.
As is so often the case, perhaps the best solution is a middle course in which UX researchers include extreme consumers in their studies while reserving sufficient resources for standard research.