Design focused on user interaction
For a considerable period of time, I have been convinced that user behavior is a key input to any activity that involves design and customization practices.
But what makes an activity a design practice?
It is important to clarify that, although we could leave pages of reflections on what design is, for the focus of this article we will talk about design from two definitions.
The first is: The act of designing can be understood as the process of building a product, a system or a service.
The second may be complementary and provide personalization: “Design is the way to deliver deep meaning to users through the experiences we create”The meaning of design Reena Merchant, UX Leadership Google
If we join these two definitions, we could say that design activities are those that involve planning and materializing products, systems and services, but also, add an evaluation criterion to know if we are talking about good design: When products, systems and services that we plan and materialize, generate value among those who use them, while making sense with them.
If what we want is to create experiences of using a product or service, then the need to understand in depth the possible users becomes more clear, since they are natural to them because they make sense with their behavior and way of thinking.
User understanding to personalization as a priority
It seems then that a key ingredient when designing something; From a message to a complete service, it is to achieve sufficient understanding so that our design reaches a personalized level, in other words: When we design, we want our users to say “they are talking to me”.
Now, even accepting the importance of the understanding of users in design practices, we have two great unknowns: On the one hand, if we bear in mind that, even at times, it is difficult for us to understand the people who are affected by us, the complexity of each individual, what aspects of users and clients should we focus on? and of equal importance, what are the valid practices and habits to have a methodological approach when facing a design challenge?
It is true that neither of the two questions can be resolved in this article, but they can offer a partial answer to both; collecting some lessons from the practices of service design and gameplay design
Both, finally, are not only similar in that they are design practices, but also that the two focus their efforts on understanding, planning and improving high-value interactions between the product / service offered and the user.
Lessons from service design:
- Design according to the context.
If we keep in mind that in the design and construction of a product there are countless decisions, which leads us on several occasions to seek generality to save some of them.
This, added to the difficulty of capturing contextual information of each use case, of what we are creating, means that in the end those decisions are made of the type: “Console games usually last 60 hours, so the game we are going to create must last 70 ”.
Now, if there were a general lesson from the practice of building Customer Lifecycles and Customer Journeys such as building the life cycle of a product, the detail of how each user understands and reacts to each interaction of the life cycle as one of the practices most common in service design.
I would say that it is precisely that each user reacts differently to the interactions that are created for him and those reactions, as well as the memory and judgment of the interaction that was generated for the user, are generally dictated by the context of the user at the time of interaction.
Thus, the decision of how long a gaming experience will last, to give an example, should not be made based on the device alone, but rather by a combination of data such as age, consumption habits, the device, the place of access and countless data that are now accessible, given the technological advances of current times.
How does this look applied in service design? An example is the adaptation of a space in a bank or a pension claim center, the elderly can wait their turn to collect, while socializing with the other users who wait.
In this case, if there were another target audience, the solution could be the trend, leading users to charge for digital channels to save time. However, with older users being the target audience, the experience will improve if the conditions are optimized so that they are in a space for socialization.
- Not only the what but the how in the service.
“Many companies seek to modify what they offer to their clients, when it has been seen that, in general, changing how they interact with the client to deliver the product or service, usually has a greater impact on improving the relationship”.
Service Design for Business
These days they have gained popularity on social networks listed as “10 things we have used wrong and did not know.” Have you seen any? When designing a service, it is so important to find intuitive solutions for users, as well as to generate mechanisms (tutorials) that facilitate the understanding of its use, and even its existence.
This in service design, means building informative interactions not only directed to the promotion, guideline and first approach to a product and / or service, but also throughout all the points of contact with its end users.
Thus, to share a possible answer to the question posed about what could be an attractive tutorial: An educational interaction is relevant when it is appropriate for the user.
- A complete experience must be multi-channel:
If we talk about generating truly personalized experiences, we have to become aware that, as individuals, we investigate, learn, test and pay at the same time and by the same means. A common flow, to give a very simplified example, would be to research through the web on a mobile device, learn and internalize in a more comfortable environment such as a desktop computer at home, try a physical product in a store and pay for it , also in store, through a transaction with a credit card.
The understanding that each user has a life apart from the primary contact channel could lead to much higher personalization experiences for shopping.
Lessons from the gameplay design:
- Involve multidisciplinary teams:
The practices of the multidisciplinary teams must go beyond the initial configuration of the team and the participation of each role in a sequential process. In video game development teams, it is common to see a gameplay designer working hand in hand with programmers to understand the scope of a proposed game mechanic, or artists working with the technical team, seeking to understand and optimize the architecture of the game to improve the visuals of the product.
The duo between a designer and a data scientist, for example, has demonstrated in various exercises that large amounts of quantitative data can be taken and interpreted from a qualitative perspective, while in the process the designer can share his knowledge about processes sketching and visualization and even learn from the data scientist how to use metrics to measure business goals.
These practices of joint and continuous work, usually give enriching results for the experience that is being designed, since they not only contribute diverse points of view to make decisions, but they generally speed up developments while promoting the practice of iterating.
- Focus creative efforts from a mandate or “creative directive”:
Today it is practically a must have to have an absolutely personalized experience. Each person chooses his own path, which means, in service design, that proposing a single linear path of interactions is assuming a strategy that will be disadvantaged from the outset with respect to proposing a certain number of options for each point of interaction, for each user to choose which one to use.
Something similar to what we experience when we play an “open world” video game, where we have a certain number of missions and we can choose which one we want to play. It is worth mentioning that in video games as in services, each interaction must bring a benefit to those who carry it out.
This, the mandate – A term commonly used in the development of videogames-, is nothing more than a short definition of what the player wants to experience when he is playing, for example:
- “I want the player to feel that he is a Tibetan monk; serene in his behavior but tough and resilient in the fight ”.
Accompanying the value proposition of the service that we are creating with a proposal of the sentiment that we want to generate, means in the design of services, the possibility of offering personalized interactions with the security that the user will remember where they come from.
Thus, decisions such as the interaction of buying the product, move from focusing on how we prevent users from queuing to proposing different interactions in the same row, such as tables, showcases with exhibited products and handwritten notices with information on fresh products.
Finally, being aware that my intention is to lengthen the time of enjoyment, I do not seek to eliminate time from my interactions but to enrich those temporal windows.
- Launch early
The early design stages always involve, despite all the research efforts that can be carried out, making a considerable amount of decisions based on the best of cases, on hypotheses generated by the research.
This is one of the main reasons why there is no launch scenario with a perfect product or service: We cannot have good levels of personalization without knowing how users could interact with the product we have, since until that moment we only had with hypotheses about it, or at most, tests carried out with a group that is not a significant sample.
For this reason, taking advantage of the benefits of measurement that we have achieved today, the proposal for an early launch appears, generally located in an area with a controlled population.
In these situations, the design practice should not focus on designing new features, but on creating and implementing the appropriate metrics to check or discard the hypotheses and iterate on the product.
Thus, among the advantages of launching early we will find being able to design and make decisions about measures and not hunches, since with localized launches we end up with thousands of related and aware users of the product, instead of small target groups.
At the end of the day, we get highly personalized products or services, since from the beginning, they have a considerable number of users who interact with it.
Ingredients for a good service design
Whether it is then applying one or more of the aforementioned lessons, we could say that one of the key ingredients for a good design is to devise and build interactions that are measurable and interpretable by the designer and the team.
Once these interactions (which can range from a displayed guideline to the range of payment options) have taken place by the desired user. How can I deal with measurement, when I have a lot of decisions to make in the design process? What if as a designer, or from my creative approach, I am more used to generating proposals and not measuring results?
Although this is a conversation that you could give us for a future article, you could anticipate that part of the answer to both questions can be found in seeking the right accompaniment, from disciplines that can be complementary; such as science and data analysis, even tools that we have at our disposal, such as CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) or personalization engines.