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  • Improving the user experience of a ticket machine interface
    • 04/20/17
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    Improving the user experience of a ticket machine interface

    We aimed to improve the user experience of Deutsche Bahn’s touchscreen user interface for customers, thereby improving the ticket- buying experience.

  • GfK hosts 12th User Experience (UX) Masterclass in China
    • 04/06/17
    • User Experience (UX)
    • UX Design
    • UX Measurement
    • UX Strategy
    • Global
    • English

    GfK hosts 12th User Experience (UX) Masterclass in China

    GfK, in partnership with the UXalliance, will host the 12th User Experience (UX) Masterclass at the InterContinental Puxi in Shanghai on April 20.

    • 03/09/17
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    How to define engaging experiences in self-driving cars

    Autonomous vehicles have the potential to disrupt everything we know about driving. Earlier this year, I attended a panel discussion regarding the advancements in autonomous driving at the 2017 Consumer and Electronics Show (CES). One conclusion from this session was that it is no longer a question of “if”, but “when” autonomous vehicles will become part of our lives.

    A blank canvas for auto manufacturers

    With no need for a steering wheel, accelerator, or brake pedals, the interior of a car becomes a blank canvas. So, how will companies shape this canvas while keeping the user at the forefront?

    For example, if a passenger wanted to work on their commute, a car could be customized into an office space with a desk and internet connection. Prefer to relax and recharge after a long day? A car could offer features like a massage chair or a big screen TV. And, in the case of ridesharing, a different car could be called up to fit the user’s mood. The car has the potential to become a “third-space”, a space to be used for more than a way to get to where you are going.

    Understanding the types of experiences consumers want

    UX research methods such as ethnography will help manufacturers understand what types of experiences consumers want to have in-car, and how to deliver them in a way that engages and delights. Ethnography helps designers, engineers, and researchers build empathy by taking them out of the lab and placing them in real world situations users face every day.

    We employ this approach to uncover insights while observing common tasks side-by-side with participants. This method uncovers behaviors and insights that wouldn’t be revealed in any other form of research, and allows us to truly see the world from the user’s perspective. These insights allow us to develop use-case scenarios and solutions that are both nuanced and relevant.

    Standing apart as the landscape evolves

    As the autonomous vehicle landscape evolves, manufacturers who are able to create truly exceptional in-car experiences will stand apart. The first step to delivering exceptional consumer experiences is understanding what consumers expect and need – and how they should be delivered. Through direct observation, ethnography has the power to uncover this. The question is, which auto manufacturer will be the first to get it right?





















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    • 01/06/17
    • Consumer Goods
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    3 usability tips every appliance manufacturer should consider

    The household appliance industry has been particularly impacted by rapid-evolving technology and Connected Consumer innovations. Our user experience (UX) researchers and designers are fortunate to see and test many cool-looking prototypes that integrate these innovations before they hit the market. While we draw some of our insights from UX best practices and years of experience in UX design of appliances, having a set of benchmarks in our arsenal makes recommendations that much more powerful.

    Measuring UX in household appliance research

    We have integrated a UX measurement tool in household appliance research over several years resulting in a robust benchmark database. A scientifically-validated tool, the UX Score offers holistic insight by combining pragmatic usability aspects (learnability, operability) with hedonic qualities such as usefulness (identification, stimulation) and look and feel; this results in a score that can be compared to competitor products, different versions of the product, or, in the case of household appliances, benchmarked for the category. Our database includes years of global research covering diverse product categories from cooktops to freezers.

    Diving deeper into the individual dimensions of the UX Score

    While the overall benchmark UX Score for household appliances indicates a good user experience through its relatively high value (about 5 on a scale from 1=low  to 6=high), researchers are likely familiar with the following situation: A consumer is excited about a new idea and design, but once they attempt to use it, the disappointment surfaces. So we must dive deeper into the individual dimensions of the UX Score.

    Here we see the mean benchmark values by dimension for the UX Score of household appliances.

    Mean benchmark values of each dimension including overall benchmark (orange line) for household appliances


    In the “inspiration” and “look and feel” dimensions, we see high benchmark values compared to the overall benchmark line. This is fostered by continuous innovations through new functionalities that show a stimulating effect on the product experience as well as the high-quality impression.

    The more pragmatic “operability” dimension represents the lowest value by comparison. The location of features and information do not conform to consumer expectations. The “learnability” dimension value is also reduced – a catchy and intuitive usage of household appliances is limited.

    How to improve the user experience for household appliances

    Based on this benchmark data and UX best practices, we have established three tips for household appliance manufacturers to improve the user experience of their products:

    • Define functions and interaction design before constructing the physical interface.
      Thereby you can perfectly place functions exactly where users expect them to be. This works much better than placing the function anywhere and then trying to explain it with an icon.
    • Involve hardware designers as early as possible in the concept development process.
      Designers and hardware experts should work together as early as possible in the concept development and testing process. This will ensure the pragmatic, as well as, hedonic aspects will gain attention.
    • Opportunity of thin-film transistor (TFT) displays should not be overstrained – avoid abundance of functions.
      TFTs offer a great opportunity to explain functions. Although consumers are very familiar with the interactions via touch, too many gimmicks lead to confusion and disorientation. If no TFT is available it becomes even more essential to focus only on the most relevant functionalities. Self-explanatory icons should be found for other functions, which are then tested as early as possible (see point 1).

    As household appliance innovations continue to evolve, the strengths (hedonic qualities) seem to be well-considered. To address the category weaknesses like operability and learnability, appliance manufacturers should apply a holistic user experience design process to keep classic usability aspects top of mind.

    Lena Tetzlaff is a User Experience Consultant at GfK. Please email to share your thoughts.

    • 12/14/16
    • Technology
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    The secret to a “killer device” that keeps users locked into your ecosystem




    The world of consumer technology has steadily moved toward an ecosystem model over the last few years; whereby a single manufacturer has created an interconnected set of devices touching upon several facets of a consumer’s life, from communication to entertainment to housework.

    For manufacturers of these devices, the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. If a manufacturer is able to lock in a consumer with one device, for example a smartphone, they have the potential to influence a myriad of future purchases, from wearables, TVs, and laptops, to big-ticket items, like home appliances, home automation systems, and even vehicles.

    Generating loyalty through device ecosystems

    The further you dive into a particular device ecosystem, the harder it is to switch to something else. For example, if someone purchases an Android phone and later finds themselves in the market for a smartwatch, they’ll logically opt for an Android Wear watch. Once it’s time to purchase a new car, they might then decide on a car with Android Auto to get the most out of the connected features of both their phone and car. Then when it’s a year later and it’s time to upgrade to the latest and greatest smartphone, the most logical route is to get another Android phone since it’s guaranteed to still be compatible with their watch and car.

    This is why it is so important to have a well thought out and engaging device to grab users’ attention and lock them in early.

    Developing the “killer device” that keeps users coming back

    The phrase from a few years ago was “killer app” to describe that one great app that encouraged people to buy a given smartphone. In the age of the device ecosystem, it’s the “killer device” – that one perfect device that draws people in and (hopefully) generates the loyalty needed to keep users coming back to the same manufacturer for all of their other devices.

    Creating that killer device is no easy feat and is often the end-result of lots of planning and hitting the market at just the right time. Part of this planning though is ensuring that the device is not only easy to use but fun to use, and this is where user testing becomes so important. Because the difference between a good user experience and a great user experience can mean the difference between a consumer buying a manufacturer’s product once and moving on and a consumer buying a product and becoming locked in as a customer for life.

    Ryan Carney is a Senior Lead UX Specialist at GfK. To share your thoughts, please email
















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    • 12/01/16
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    5 ways to apply design thinking to UX research




    When I was just starting out as an industrial designer, I can remember rolling my eyes when I heard some prominent designer or design agency talking about how designers were going to save the world. I thought they were a bit full of themselves (and I still do), but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some value in what they were saying.

    They didn’t have a name for it at the time, but what they were talking about is what we now refer to as design thinking. Design thinking is broad and vaguely defined, and if you ask ten designers what it is you’re likely to get 12 different opinions; but if you examine those various opinions you’ll start to see some themes repeated, reflecting many of the tools that designers use in their process including user-empathy, prototyping as exploration, abductive reasoning, re-framing, and the list goes on. As a starting point, we have identified five tools of design thinking that can be applied in a research context.


    1. Think systemically. Rather than focus on the immediate problem, look for the larger context. You might come to understand the problem better, and you might see solutions that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Famed engineeer Paul MacCready said, “The problem is that we don’t understand the problem.”
    2. Be empathetic. It is vitally important to understand the subject from the user’s point of view. While you benefit from seeing the larger context, you don’t want to fall into the trap of seeing the issues through your lens and not the user’s. If you do, you could end up solving the wrong problem. The most useful piece of software in the world provides no value if the user can’t navigate it.
    3. Linger in ambiguity. Don’t jump to an interpretation or a solution too soon. Allow the question to be ill-defined; allow for multiple possible answers; don’t assume anything. As soon as you think you know the answer, you stop processing new information. Delay that decision point until you have all the data available, and you will make a better decision.
    4. Maintain a result-oriented focus. Instead of focusing on a solution, focus on the end result you are trying to achieve. Blockbuster focused on improving the video rental experience and did quite well, until Netflix focused on video viewing and eclipsed Blockbuster overnight.
    5. Reflect and invite feedback. Examine and re-examine your assumptions, your insights, and your solutions. Seek input from a variety of people, knowledge bases, expertise; imagine your solution in a different scenario, with a different user. Re-test not only to verify your answers, but to identify the next questions.

    Design is a subtle, intuitive, and non-linear process. It cannot simply be mapped and codified into a repeatable, cookie-cutter method, but the principles underlying it can be emulated and applied to other problems including research design. If we can remember these principles when we are planning, conducting, or analyzing research, we will open up new opportunities, generate more meaningful insights, and create richer feedback.

    Perhaps the most important element of design thinking is that—contrary to what those design luminaries would have you believe—it is not restricted to an elite group of people. As Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon said, “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones” (Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd ed., 1996). So, while you may not have the training to design the next ground-breaking smartphone or web search algorithm, you can apply the mindset of design thinking to your area of expertise and go a step further, or maybe even leap beyond.

    Tyler Duston is a User Experience Lead Specialist at GfK. Please email to share your thoughts.















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  • GfK’s Hannah Duffy to speak at global innovation and health technology conference
    • 11/11/16
    • Health
    • Technology
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    GfK’s Hannah Duffy to speak at global innovation and health technology conference

    Hannah Duffy, senior user experience (UX) consultant at GfK, will share perspectives on the topic “Avoiding the storm in the NHS through design.

    • 11/02/16
    • Health
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    Four best practices for bulletproofing drug and delivery device innovations




    When applying human factors engineering in medical and drug delivery device development, the end goal for manufacturers is a successful validation study. Proper application of best practices in human factors engineering throughout the development process, not just at the end, is how that success is achieved. Having managed and executed hundreds of such studies, we’ve observed some common pitfalls that, if not navigated properly, will likely result in FDA requests for additional research – pitfalls that can lead to time wasted, money lost and effort exhausted.

    Four best practices represent examples of how to apply human factors engineering to reduce time and money, and increase your rate of success:

    1. Ensure participants in the human factors validation testing are representative of intended end users.

    Do not assume. Base your definition of intended users on data gleaned from past research, and document the inputs to your definition. We often see incomplete or incorrect assumptions about the nature of the end user. For example, during one study a manufacturer assumed physicians would use a particular device to accomplish a task, but ethnographic observations revealed that physicians typically handed the device to a nurse to complete the task.

    FDA guidance indicates that human factors validation testing must include participants who are representative of intended end users (adult patients, pediatric patients, various types of HCPs and caregivers). In some cases, support personnel (i.e. staff who perform equipment maintenance, repairs, cleaning, etc.) may need to be included as a separate user group, likely with separate tasks. The FDA requires a minimum of 15 users per user group, and sometimes more.

    2. Assess tasks and sub-tasks associated with product use with sufficient granularity to truly understand failure modes.

    It’s crucial to perform a task analysis that is granular enough to identify every interaction a user has with an interface, breaking those interactions down into elements of perception, cognition and action. This helps to understand key failure modes. For example, we conducted formative research for a manufacturer with a goal towards identifying any opportunities for refinement in the packaging and labeling for a drug. Previously, a graphic designed to communicate the proper dose was made larger in an attempt to reduce improper dosing. We helped the manufacturer redesign, rather than enlarge the graphic and saw a reduction in improper dosing in later research.

    For critical (and essential) tasks, it’s crucial to observe behavior through simulated-use scenarios because what users say they would do versus what they actually do can be vastly different. Craft each scenario allowing participants to demonstrate what they would do if they were at home/at work/in other intended use environments. Control environmental factors (light, sound, distractions, etc.) to be representative of the intended use environment.

    3. Conduct preliminary analyses with an eye towards defining and documenting context of use in addition to designing the product and associated materials.

    Product manufacturers often assume that because they have implemented a training program, all of their users will be trained as they prescribe. But when we’ve conducted contextual inquiries or ethnography in clinical settings, it’s not at all uncommon to hear that some clinicians have skipped training. Or that a”train the trainer” model is only loosely followed. This results in scenarios where the user might interact with the device without any formal training or a long time after they were initially trained.

    Taking the opportunity during preliminary analyses to evaluate the context of use, who is using the product and how is just as important as formative usability testing to ensure safe and effective use will be validated at the conclusion of the human factors effort.

    4. Prepare for complexity of validation by establishing robust team training on best practices in application of human factors engineering, and control for quality and consistency.

    In validation studies sample sizes are typically larger. Representative user populations are often difficult to identify and require data collection across multiple markets. Representative contexts of use must be simulated carefully. Add to all this the variety of team members involved in the execution of such an effort (research leads, participant recruiters, site coordinators, moderators, note-takers and trainers). It is important to have a robust system in place that ensures the team is appropriately trained for research protocols, that good documentation practices are adhered to, that a robust root cause analysis has yielded sufficient understanding of all observed use errors and that any adverse events have been reported. Any missteps and, at best, significant time, effort and cost go into documenting and explaining deviation from protocols. At worst, the validity of your data falls into question and leaves you with a need to conduct more research.

    Ultimately, implementing these best practices will not only support a successful validation study, but they are also critical to ensuring the product you are developing lives up to the promise of your innovation by delivering a superior user experience.

    For more information on our best practices for safeguarding drug and delivery device innovations, contact















    Want to learn even more tips?



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    • 10/27/16
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    The emerging relationship between brand and user experience




    Welcome to the world of the experience economy where experience triumphs over rationality. How consumers think and feel about your product or service is driven by the sum total of all their experiences with your brand. The user experience you provide equates to the delivery of your brand promise. To put it more starkly, how you make your customers feel will dictate how they perceive your brand now and in the future.

    Getting the user experience (UX) right is therefore no doubt top of your wish list. We know from our extensive work with brands around the world that small changes in UX can deliver significant and meaningful gains in terms of long-term brand equity. In a recent study, we found that a 0.1 change in the mean UX Score (a validated measurement of usability, usefulness, and aesthetics calculated on a six-point scale) resulted in an increase of 1.3% in brand equity. The message is clear – get your UX right in the short and medium term, and growth will follow. There can’t be a better incentive for getting it right every time.

    What consumers think about your brand is influenced entirely by their experience

    The reality is that consumers are fickle creatures, overwhelmed with a plethora of choice. All too often brands only get one chance to engage with them. Once upon a time, the way to engage with these consumers was through paid media. The prevailing wisdom was that with enough investment in the right channels, customers would, in time, take notice. But this is no longer the case. The balance of power has now tipped in favor of today’s Connected Consumers. This means that brands are more reliant on earned media than ever before to reach consumers. This is why UX matters so much: what consumers think about your brand is influenced entirely by their experience with your brand.

    The key to success in today’s market lies in influencing earned media

    We know that customer experience impacts brand perception and earned media. For this reason, we see a strong argument for investing in your UX rather than paid and owned media. This offers you the opportunity to generate a better customer experience and more positive brand exposure. The resulting earned media should then deliver greater returns. It’s a strategy that benefits both the brand and the consumer, and one that’s primed for success.

    UX is the urgent challenge for today’s marketers

    Brands that make the necessary investment in UX will achieve bold, sustainable and effective growth. As a first step, you must be able to quantify the user experience in order to understand its impact on brand equity and relationship to market share. With a tool like the UX Score, you can quickly and cost effectively identify improvements that will delight customers. You can prosper in today’s experience economy and grow your bottom line.

    How do you tackle the challenge of earned media?

    To share your thoughts, please email
















    We discussed this topic in greater detail and shared our research results in a webinar.


    The emerging relationship between brand and the user experience



    View the on-demand recording of this presentation














  • Best practices to bulletproof drug device and delivery innovations
    • 09/28/16
    • Health
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Medical Devices
    • Global
    • English

    Best practices to bulletproof drug device and delivery innovations

    Explore our free webinar recording that will answer key questions and learn best practices in the application of human factors engineering that can bulletproof Rx and medical device innovations.

    • 08/19/16
    • Technology
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    Turning the smart home into a consumer-led revolution




    Connected consumers around the globe have brands wondering what smart product technologies are next in line for mass adoption.  Even though a number of emerging tech trends have enormous potential, the smart home in particular stands out as one that offers endless opportunities for brands.  However, adoption of the technology so far has been slow due to a fragmented and confusing market that consumers don’t fully understand.

    For the smart home to truly be successful, it must transform from a technology-led revolution to a consumer-led revolution, with partnerships, collaboration and education providing necessary clarity.  But with opportunities in several different categories, where do key players begin?

    Start with what consumers expect

    In order to fulfill consumer expectations for the smart home, manufacturers must start by understanding what those expectations are and how they appeal to consumers.  In our global study of 7,000 consumers in seven markets, we found that a majority of consumers (86%) were aware of the term “smart home”, but most have a relatively limited depth of knowledge on what it actually is.

    Additionally, appeal for the smart home varies by market and demographic, with millennials and generation Xers in developed countries showing the most potential as early adopters.  And while various smart home categories like security and control, energy and lighting, entertainment and connectivity, etc. have different levels of appeal, around half of consumers globally agree that smart home technology will have an impact on their life in the next few years.

    Focus on the consumer benefits

    When it comes to the smart home though, high awareness isn’t enough for widespread adoption.  In fact, outside of cost, the main barrier for consumers globally, the lack of a cohesive vision or product has blurred the benefits of using the technology.

    In addition, many consumers have concerns over their personal privacy and whether or not integration between devices will be simple and seamless.  For smart home products and services to work together, collaboration and partnerships must happen within the market, and consumers will need to be educated on the full benefits of living in a smart home.

    Finding smart home success

    The path to success for smart home developers lies in understanding specific market needs, ensuring a seamless user experience through innovative partnerships and collaboration and communicating how the technology will enhance the lives of connected consumers.  With the smart home already appealing to many consumers around the world, technology must no longer be the driving force behind smart home innovation…  it’s now time for consumers to lead the revolution.
















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    • 08/17/16
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    Building on Elon Musk’s master plan: Payment systems and the future of automotive




    In a recent Let’s Talk Payments article, I discussed Elon Musk’s recently published Master Plan part 2 that outlines his vision for the future of Tesla, which now includes the acquisition and merger of Solar City. In my article I pointed out the disappointing omission of an in-vehicle payments platform from Musk’s plan.

    Therefore, I took it upon myself to update Musk’s master plan part 2 to include a necessary fifth item about payments, which many automotive companies are already working on but have yet to fully develop. The new plan looks like this:

    1. Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
    2. Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
    3. Develop a self-driving capability that is ten times safer than manual via massive fleet learning
    4. Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it
    5. Install an operating system that allows your car to pay for things using a digital wallet

    The need for in-vehicle payment systems

    Connecting the vehicles we drive with our surroundings is universally believed to be the future of the automobile.  The use cases for including a payments platform across passenger vehicles, heavy duty trucks, buses and semis are many; parking, tolls, fuel/charging, maintenance, car washes, the drive-through and even for use by an advanced digital assistant to help with booking reservations, hotels, etc.  Thus alleviating the need to find and locate a credit or debit card and read the numbers over the phone which would in-turn make vehicles safer.

    With the inclusion of the sharing economy as #4 on Musk’s to-do list, coupled with the fact that Musk’s fleet of solar electric vehicles will be autonomous, e.g. self-driving, this leaves plenty of opportunity to plan, shop and make purchases while in route. And with the rest of the automotive world including Ford, Honda, Mercedes and potentially Apple working on autonomous and electric cars, wouldn’t a seamless payments capability be a differentiator for Tesla’s vehicle; further increasing Musk’s lead from the pack of other automakers?

    Making auto-based payments invaluable

    To make an in-vehicle payment system superior and encourage usage over an app on a phone, the user experience must be superior.  Integrating customer needs with functionality and simplicity that trumps mobile app usage will go a long way to making the vehicle the payment method of choice among consumers. And although Musk shuns market research, these types of design and usability preferences can be easily determined through a well-designed user experience research program.

    The value proposition of including an in-vehicle payments platform may be lost on consumers today, but in the future it will be a table stake, much like cruise control and blue tooth capability. By getting there first, Musk could dominate and create yet another competitive advantage for Tesla.

    Whether or not Musk finds a payments platform too detailed for inclusion in his master plan is yet to be seen, I’m still waiting to hear back from him.

    Tim Spenny is Senior Vice President on the Financial Services team at GfK. He can be reached at
















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