Tags Search: design

CyberStudio's new look

Dec
11

Posted by Cyber View Tech Support | Topic: CyberStudio CMS

11 December 2012
The first version of CyberStudio was released in May 2004. Since then the power and capabilities have grown and expanded to continually meet the needs of our customers.

Now entering into it's 9th year, CyberStudio has received a new interface and a new logo.

  • The CyberStudio logo (2004-2012)


  • The new CyberStudio logo (2012)


Treating Users as Customers: Designing the end-to-end

Jan
6

Posted by Frank Garofalo | Topic: Strategy

6 January 2011

"Treating Users as Customers: Designing the end-to-end" (what a brilliant concept), is the title of an article by Steve Workman, a consultant at PA Consulting Group in London, UK. Workman begins his article with a discussion about how for web designers it is easy to divide elements of the user interface and/or the user experience into small parts. He states: "Breaking an experience into small parts allows the details to be worked through and perfected." This is true. However, only looking at the situation with a magnifying glass can miss details seen at the big picture level, as Workman describes: "It's rare that web designers think of the bigger picture - not just the end-to-end journey of a user, but the entirety of a customer's experience." The full span of the customer experience can take numerous weeks to occur, or "it can be as immediate as someone being told about an app, downloading it, playing with it for five minutes, and leaving a review." I strongly agree with Workman's point of: "...the need for designers to think big in order to deliver customer experience has never been so important."

The path a customer takes to arrive to your user interface can greatly affect the expectations they will have of your interface/system. Workman breaks these path/expectation combinations into three categories, to quote:

  • Search gives the lowest expectation because relatively little information is contained within search results.
  • Advertising often paints a rosy picture of products or services so expectations are higher.
  • Social networks produce the most realistic expectations, as this is the only channel where both negative information and independent praise can be found.

Trying to match what a customer is expecting with methods to develop the interface/system to meet those expectations, UX professionals usually turn to generating use cases. Workman states:

Many designers simply view this touchpoint as a single use case, and attempt to group people into buckets to predict what they will do. If customers expect more than a use case can describe, it is entirely possible that they won't be happy with a product or service - their expectations won’t be met.

With the increased number of web sites and mobile apps available on the web, customers' standards for customer support have also increased. I agree with Workman's thoughts on this:

A few years ago, a frustrated customer would simply sigh and give up on a difficult product, or try to accomplish the same thing using another service. More recently, though, people have been treating web sites and "garage-made" apps as if they were products from multi-national corporations, expecting the same level of service from a one-man band as they would get from their electric company.

This is now presenting one-man bands as well as companies of all sizes with several new challenges; "...expectations for support are also going up, often faster than the companies can keep up with," says Workman. He goes on to make the observation, which I agree with, of "...many companies, both large and small, are not providing the same quality of customer service that they provide for their core services as for their mobile apps... they make the mistake of assuming their application is good enough and their customers are technically savvy, so they don’t have to put much effort into customer support."

Looking at the big picture there are several actions that can be taken to improve the full experience of interacting with a company. Workman describes this as:

The customer's experience must be considered at all stages of UX design; the big picture should always affect in the design of the small picture, as each touchpoint in the ecosystem is crafted. Marketing teams must be involved in designing the customer experience, so that the holistic experience of using a service or interacting with a company conveys the right message every time.

Once again, the discussion leads towards collaboration with user experience, information technology, marketing, operations, and customer support. Customers today are expecting an open dialogue with a company to resolve any issues they may encounter. Not only are customer support departments being called upon to help resolve these issues quickly, but information about the issues need to be communicated efficiently to the other departments within the company so that the company can learn from these issues and better respond to the customers' needs thus moving towards the continual goal of providing the best experiences.

I'll wrap up this post with the last paragraph from Workman, which ties the idea together very well:

Thinking of the customer experience, rather than just the user experience, leads to a more complete product, one where customers’ expectations are met before, during, and after their journeys. Thinking of the big picture leads to happier customers, not just happier users.

Read Steve Workman's full article on UX Magazine at: http://uxmag.com/strategy/treating-users-as-customers

"Design of Future Things"

Oct
23

Posted by Frank Garofalo | Topic: Creative

23 October 2010
I had difficulty determining which topic to place this post since it spans several topics.

Recently I've been reading a book by Donald Norman called "The Design of Future Things." I'm not one to do much pleasure reading often, however I have found this book to be: insightful, entertaining, and informative.

On page 93 he discusses the interaction between humans and machines. Through the various interactions that occur between humans and machines, there are all sorts of indicators that machines have been designed to use to attempt to inform their user with some type of information. Now that last sentence may sound very vague - but think about it from beeps to buzzers, LED lights to digital displays - there are a variety of indicators. Norman refers to this in the book as the "human-machine social ecosystem." For example, on my Android phone the same LED light will illuminate green for a text message, voicemail message, and Gmail message. However that single LED light doesn't provide me with information to distinguish specifically what it is trying to bring to my attention - and honestly at times this is frustration. Norman expresses the point that with the design of devices today - some devices try to adapt to the user and on the flip side, the user usually has to adapt to the device. This can be a strong positive and a strong negative at times. To quote Norman, "Combining implicit communication with affordances is a powerful, very natural concept" (pg. 71). Norman goes on to suggest that a "symbiosis of machine and person" is a form of "human-machine interaction at it's best" (pg. 90).

So from a user experience perspective, how can devices and interfaces be designed to benefit the user. Norman shares details regarding how devices today are trying to adapt to a user's behavior pattern to predict what the user will want. The primary goal to achieve is to not cause an annoyance or dangerous situation for the user, but rather to support the user. Predict and give the user suggestions. The device can then adapt and become better at predicting the suggestions to give the user without completely automating the process by making a selection for the user. To support the user information provided, according to Norman, must be "voluntary, friendly, and cooperative" (pg. 130). I certainly agree with Norman especially when he describes the concept of "informate," which he defines as "impact of increased access to information afforded by automation" (pg. 133).

There is a challenge between making a device completely automated and making a device completely manually controlled. The middle ground, as Norman suggests, can be a very complex and potentially dangerous combination. However overall, devices and interfaces need to "provide a user with tools to work and live smarter" (pg. 128).


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