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  • GfK User Experience Experts to Present at 2016 UX Masterclass
    • 04/25/16
    • Technology
    • User Experience (UX)
    • United States
    • English

    GfK User Experience Experts to Present at 2016 UX Masterclass

    Later this week at the 12th annual UX Masterclass, GfK’s Shailesh Manga and Bob Schumacher will take the stage to divulge their latest user experience (UX) insights.

    • 04/20/16
    • Technology
    • Consumer Goods
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    3 guidelines to successfully integrate digital into the dining experience

    The opportunities for restaurants to introduce a digital component into the dining experience are wide and diverse. However, for this exciting technology to result in happier, more engaged and satisfied diners, integration must maintain focus on the entire experience, not just the digital interface itself.  After recently dining at a restaurant that incorporated a digital interface, with my UX ‘hat’ on, I came away with three guidelines to ensure that a strong user interface leads to an overall good experience for your restaurant diners.

    1. Make the digital interface easy to use

    During my recent dining experience, the restaurant provided an iPad at every table on which I was able to view the menu, order my food and pay. The interface was great and I was able to quickly navigate the menu and choose my dinner.

    To ensure your digital interface is useful, intuitive and visually appealing, the following UX design best practices can be applied:

    • In addition to offering the features a diner needs, the user should be able to learn to navigate the interface within the first ten seconds of use.
    • All action buttons should have clear affordance on the page.
    • Visual cues within the interface should clearly direct the diner to the next step in the ordering process.
    • Menu items should have both textual descriptions and detailed pictures to meet the needs of all users. To keep the design aesthetically pleasing, take full advantage of the digital interface by providing users with pictures of the menu items. By placing these images behind each menu option, the menu will not be limited by page space and all menu items can be accompanied by images. Text descriptions will be preferred by some users, and along with the use of symbols, can provide an at-a-glance assessment of dietary restrictions (see example from sprig.com below).

     

     

    2. Create a quicker and easier experience

    Integrating digital components into restaurant environments should result in a simpler and faster dining experience. One way to do this is to combine order and pay through the same interface, saving the user the extra step of paying after they order.

    Since customization is very important to diners, the digital interface must allow easy customization options for food ordered through the interface. For example, when ordering a burger, a diner should be able to customize toppings, cheese type, condiments and any other options that could be asked for when ordering at a counter or through wait staff. Don’t slow down the dining process – if these customization options are not included and/or easy to see, a user might be forced to seek out other guidance when they cannot be found.

    3. Complement the digital experience with the “human element”

    My food arrived within 10 minutes, but when I needed some mustard for my hamburger, I could not find a waiter. The iPad offered an option to request a server, but after pressing it a few times, no one arrived. My excitement at using the digital interface was quickly soured by the lack of anything resembling a non-digital experience.

    The most well-designed interface will never result in a great user experience if the non-digital components of the dining experience are not equally well-designed. The user experience of dining is a combination of both the digital and the non-digital.

    The delivery of food should be seamless from the ordering process. Orders should go to the right person at the right table. This can be done through the digital interface by allowing users to enter their names when ordering or tagging each step with an easy-to-see order number to ensure that wait staff can easily see where the order belongs. However, if the food is not brought out quickly, or orders are prepared incorrectly, this can detract from the experience.

    Assistance must be easily accessible. The digital interface can again help with a clearly visible help option, but once help has been requested, a staff member must arrive promptly to ensure that diners do not become frustrated when their request is not fulfilled.

    Staff can also serve as “trainers” for the digital interface and must be well-versed in its use. Some diners may not be as tech savvy and may not be able to use the interface as intuitively as others. This is the most important time to ensure that staff is able to help these diners to ensure that their digital interface struggle is not detracting from their dining experience.

    Non-digital elements must also work seamlessly to ensure that once the diner has completed their interaction with the digital interface, the experience continues to be a positive one.

    The digital and non-digital must blend seamlessly

    At first glance, a unique digital solution with an easy-to-use interface might seem like it should be enough to improve any dining experience. However, if there is a lack of thought beyond the digital interface of the ordering system, it will ultimately result in a poor overall user experience.

    The digital and non-digital must blend seamlessly into a customized and efficient experience, and the best user experience will be one where diners’ needs are met equally though the digital interface and the “human element” of the restaurant.

    Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at maddy.ross@gfk.com (User Experience Specialist at GfK).

    • 04/11/16
    • User Experience (UX)
    • United Kingdom
    • English

    GfK sponsors UX in Media Technology event

    UXPA UK hosts diverse group of speakers to discuss the impact of user experience research on the media industry.  As an active contributor to the user experience (UX) field, GfK is proud to support the United Kingdom (UK) chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) with their latest event, UX in Media Technology. The April 21 presentation promises to be a lively debate about how UX research can help innovate the delivery of customer-led content and capture and maintain audience attention across media.

  • GfK’s Lauren Zack to Speak at ProductCamp Boston
    • 04/08/16
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • User Experience (UX)
    • United States
    • English

    GfK’s Lauren Zack to Speak at ProductCamp Boston

    When releasing a new product to the market, timing is everything. Releasing a product too soon can be disastrous. Release the product too late and there may no longer be a market need. In a speaking session at ProductCamp Boston, Lauren Zack, Vice President of User Experience (UX) at GfK, will detail how an organization (and its investors) should decide when a product is ready to ship.

    • 03/31/16
    • Technology
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Virtual reality
    • Global
    • English

    The Emerging and Evolving UX of Virtual Reality

    Virtual reality (VR) has had its ups and downs over the last few decades, but all signs point to 2016 as a watershed year for VR entering the mainstream of consumer technologies, as we highlighted in this year’s Tech Trends 2016. Facebook’s purchase of Oculus will finally bear fruit this year with the release of its first commercial product. Not to be left behind, Samsung, HTC and Google will release (or have already released) new virtual reality products or updates to existing ones. So as virtual reality reaches its pinnacle turning point, how can focusing on the user experience (UX) ensure consumers will embrace and adopt this exciting new technology with ease and enjoyment?

    VR from a UX perspective

    A major challenge for virtual reality from a UX perspective is how users interact with the technology. The input and interactions of virtual reality differ greatly from nearly every interface to come before it due to the fact that the user cannot see his or her own hands nor an input device (e.g., mouse, keyboard, gamepad, et cetera).

    The stakes for getting the UX of VR right are potentially even higher than with a website or mobile app. Any frustrations or difficulties with physically controlling or inputting selections in a virtual reality platform are magnified as the user is operating within an isolated environment and, in extreme cases, could even cause disorientation or motion sickness.

    Many manufacturers are designing creative solutions to tackle these problems:

    • Minimal buttons. Depending on the generation, Google Cardboard, whereby users insert their smartphone into a special cardboard holder, features a simple button/lever for making selections; the user presses the button on the side of the headset and a lever then physically taps the smartphone screen. For a virtual reality solution that costs less than $20, this simple method of interaction is quite ingenious. However, while a single button is easy for even the most inexperienced users, the level of interaction afforded by a single button is obviously very limited.
    • Head tracking and fixation. App developers are experimenting with their own input methods to take into account low-cost VR headsets without the input method described above. One VR video player app that I’ve used utilizes head tracking and fixation for controlling playback (that is, the user looks around for the play/pause button and points their head toward it for around five seconds). This is a very passive method of interaction but given that it’s for a video player (by nature, a passive medium), it works in this instance.
    • Multiple controllers. At the higher end of the VR headset spectrum are the Oculus and HTC Vive. The Vive, which offers a more immersive VR experience through the extra processing power of an actual computer and head-tracking via laser sensors, comes with two controllers to track hand movement and allows for multiple types of input. This method of control is more in-line with the stereotypical view of VR where the user is not only immersed in a 3D environment but also able to manipulate objects within that environment. Based on the pre-release reviews, the interactions available with the Vive are unparalleled relative to the other VR platforms on the market (or soon-to-be on the market). So with the Vive, the UX challenges shift from the physical interactions between the user and the controls to optimizing the virtual interactions happening on-screen (which itself is a topic for a different blog post).

    User feedback and experiences matter for VR

    At this point, most manufacturers are still working out the kinks and refining how their VR products should be controlled. User input is critical throughout the development of these new interaction models to ensure the end product will be successful. What works on one VR platform might not work on another; the wide range of device classes may even demand their own interaction models. The controls and input methods of virtual reality on a smartphone are likely to be very different than that of a virtual reality on a desktop computer.

    There is no crystal ball to see what UX practices will work best for virtual reality; however, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that incorporating the feedback and experiences of real users into the development will help to ensure a much more satisfying and enjoyable VR experience and, ultimately, consumer adoption.

    Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at ryan.carney@gfk.com (Senior Lead User Experience Specialist at GfK).

    • 03/30/16
    • Technology
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Wearables
    • Global
    • English

    3 tips to effectively incorporate wearables for your guests’ travel and event experiences

    Nowadays summer vacations can be planned, booked and customized without ever picking up the phone or even logging into a laptop. Hundreds of apps exist solely to create the ideal vacation experience. Smartphones can be used to pay for things while on vacation, but with the advent of wearables, even that may someday seem cumbersome. Some theme parks and resorts are already looking to design a more seamless experience with radio frequency identification (RFID) in the form of a wearable, a technology that promises to streamline everything from reservations and tickets to keeping track of children. But, can hospitality businesses and event organizers increase adoption and comfort level of this technology? How can you make it a competitive differentiator to draw people to your resort or event?

    The technology

    Disney uses Magic Band technology: a wristband with RFID that stores park tickets, room access (goodbye room keys!), dining reservations, ride tickets, in-park photography and credit card information. The good-old-days of lugging around a camera, cash, credit cards, miscellaneous pieces of paper with reservations – even souvenirs – all over the park, are a distant memory. The wearable is integrated with a mobile app that allows access to park maps, wait times, reservations and fast passes. This leap forward in the theme park experience will soon be typical throughout vacation and event experiences everywhere.

    Music festivals are already applying RFID technology. For example, the Chicago festival Lollapalooza mails guests wristbands for admittance. If activated online prior to the concert, credit cards can be linked. At Lollapalooza, festival-goers can simply scan their personal wristband to purchase food and drinks.

    RFID also has important safety implications. Gone will be the days of missing children in a crowded theme park, zoo, sporting event or cruise ship; simply scan a wristband to access emergency contact information.

    The user experience

    This technology is a great opportunity for brands to build loyalty and differentiate from competitors. The wearable’s user experience (UX) from set-up to use should be carefully designed and integrated into the vacation or event. If the following tips are considered, users will be more likely to setup, activate and interact with the technology throughout their stay and have a more consistent, engaging experience as the design intended:

    • The device should be easy to set up. One of our information design specialists, Flori Manning, comments in her white paper, “A good instruction design provides a service that is pleasant, flows well and feels ‘very doable’ to its audience.” This very important step is critical to users feeling confident that they can use the technology throughout their vacation or event. For instance, allow users to scan a QR code with their phone that takes them directly to an activation page; the easier and quicker it is for users to set up and get started, the more likely they are to actively use the wearable.
    • Out-of-box experience should match the tone of the resort, vacation or event experience. One product experience that is often overlooked is the out-of-box experience. In a recent webinar, we discussed how this important part of the product experience shapes a user’s perception of both the product and the brand. This experience is a huge opportunity for organizations to get users excited about their vacation or event…and, in turn, excited about using the RFID device.
    • Ensure the device enhances – and does not interrupt – the experience. In order to attract users, each part of the wearable guest experience – from acquisition and activation to use – should be seamless. Short and simple communications on using the technology, prior to guest use, as well as knowledgeable staff available to assist throughout, are key components to a continuous guest experience.

    The opportunities available for you to connect to your guests through wearables are limitless. At theme parks, vacation resorts, sporting events and music festivals, personalizing and streamlining the experience with integration between apps and wearables will soon be a convenient, commonplace occurrence. Designing the device, packaging and instructions with the audience in mind will ensure your users will embrace the technology and offer a differentiating edge.

    Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at jenny.mccarthy@gfk.com (User Experience Specialist at GfK).

    Download the white paper: How to design great product instructions: Five challenges to overcome

    Access the webinar: How to think “out of the box” about what your customers are actually buying

    • 03/10/16
    • Financial Services
    • Health
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • Consumer Goods
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    Putting the minimum in Minimum Viable Product (MVP): It’s about the experience!

    Getting to market first can often be the difference between success and failure. But getting there too early can also be disastrous. If quality is judged to be poor, the brand suffers and reputation might not be recoverable. If adoption is low, the innovative technology itself might seem irrelevant, obscuring its value rather than exploiting it. So the challenge for technology leaders racing to market is this: How good is good enough for a minimum viable product?

    Great idea + great technology + great experience = disrupting an industry

    You’ve got a great idea, you think it will be a hit in the market and fill an untapped need. Your team develops innovative technology to transform the idea into a working product. What’s next? Successful disruptors focus on the entire consumer experience to increase the likelihood of adoption and reduce the risk of low adoption. For example:

       

    • Uber released an initial product with an addictive experience coupled with innovative technology. The design of the engaging mobile app succeeded by combining simple visualization of cars and location with a straightforward payment workflow. This ensured quick adoption and that consumers would not quickly switch to next-to-market competitors such as Lyft and others.
    • Warby Parker made the experience of getting new glasses seem fresh by combining technology with a great, personal brick and mortar experience. In addition, the experience includes an understanding that the socially conscious brand will donate one pair of glasses for each pair purchased. This focus on multiple ways to interact with consumers created an initial product suite that reflects a dynamic, multi-channel approach.
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    Designing a great experience: The Holy Grail of product development

    Developing the consumer experience has never been a hotter topic. A recent Harvard Business Review article quoted Bridget van Kralingen, a senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, saying “there is no longer any real distinction between business strategy and the design of the user experience”. As a society, we are fascinated by products that seem to become ubiquitous overnight. In his book, Contagious, Jonah Berger ascribes this success in part due to personal recommendations being prime influencers in behavior – if you have a great experience with a product, you are very likely to tell your friends and family to check it out, and they are very likely to do it.

    This rapid, viral adoption is what all product developers seek: rather than investing heavily in promotion and marketing, a great product experience will sell itself and early adopters will become the product’s most effective spokesmen. In fact, our data has shown the direct relationship between user experience and active brand equity – a direct contributor to market share.

    How should an organization (and its investors) decide when a product is ready to ship?

    It’s all about the user experience:

       

    • The technology has to be “ready” enough that the experience communicates a quality product. This means no bugs and no typos. Details matter, a lot.
    • The value of the product is apparent to users: the use of disruptive technology, innovative approach, etc. need to be readily seen both from the marketing messaging and the product itself. Example: Uber and those little black cars on your mobile device, clearly communicate information and expectations.
    • The first shot needs to have a clear purpose. You can always layer in more technology (e.g., targeting additional devices such as watches) and more features but the first launch has to provide a great (possibly infectious) experience even for the early adopters.
    • Delight your intended customers. Measure beforehand what the experience feels like and use this to inform your go-to-market strategy.
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    The race to market has never been tighter. As soon as a company decides on a cool, new, innovative, disruptive technology, there are dozens of competitors right on their heels. The winners of this race will determine what’s good enough by developing strategies that incorporate a focus on the experience in their definition of minimum viable product.

    Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at Lauren.Zack@GfK.com. And find out more about user experience.

    • 02/22/16
    • Technology
    • Consumer Goods
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    3 Steps to Evaluate the Out-of-Box Product Experience

    The “out of box” experience is a brand’s first impression. It is a critical touchpoint of the customer journey that often gets overlooked by organizations. This experience covers the unboxing, product setup and initial use of a product. Attention toward this touchpoint can generate excitement and delight around a product and brand.

    The benefits of a great out-of-box experience

    For an organization, a great out-of-box experience means decreased number of product returns, reduced number of complaint or support calls into a call center, more customers retained, a better product and brand reputation and ultimately, delighted customers. For consumers, they want out of box experiences to have clear instructions and to contain a product that delivers on what the packaging promised.

    Three steps of the out-of-box experience

    As a user experience (UX) professional, I can’t help myself to evaluate the occasional out-of-box experience on products that I purchase for my home. This recently happened with an in-home air monitor that I purchased.

    1. Unboxing

    I purchased the Foobot – a self-proclaimed ‘good air guru.’ My family members have allergies and asthma and we thought it could be a good idea to get an air monitor to help us identify what might be causing the occasional allergy flair up. Upon first inspection, the package was beautiful, fun and friendly. The instructions in the box are minimal (plug in, download, set up the app) with a QR code that links directly to the mobile app download. My first impression was that this was going to be a slick experience.

     

    2. Setup

    According to the box, the set up seemed like it was going to be easy. After all, there were only three steps and a minimal help pamphlet. However, I did experience a few issues. There ended up being a pretty short distance requirement for the device to the router, which in my house was not possible. This caused a pretty lengthy connection time and some troubleshooting. It did eventually connect, but we still struggle to maintain a constant connection.

    Our second issue was that it didn’t tell us where to place the device (up high, at ground level, near or away from a window, etc.). The only thing it did tell us was that our kitchen is full of high levels of ‘particulate matter’, which was a bit concerning!

    When the product promise (from the box) does not align to the actual experience, it does cause user frustration. Luckily, both of the issues I experienced could have been easily uncovered with a quick UX evaluation or user test during the package design phase.

     

    3. Initial use

    Once up and running, I found the Foobot interface to be fun to operate. It displays different types of readings with ideal ranges for all: volatile compounds, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, room temperature and humidity. It also provides an overall score on the health of the room. You also get to “name” the device – my daughter called ours Jupiter, for some reason.

    I’m not too sure what to do when a room is rated ‘bad’. The Foobot is really great at telling me when readings are high and sending notification to my phone, but I’ve yet to learn what to do if/when I get high readings, despite the box promising us ‘actionable advice’ when this occurs.

     

    Conclusion: remember to think out of the box

    My overall impression is that it is certainly a cool gadget to have around the house. I’m having nerdy fun moving it to different rooms to see how readings vary, checking in on the readings while we are away and to see how room air changes over time (when cooking dinner for example).

    When organizations involve users in the out of box experience design, they will learn what users expect from the product before they use it, how users anticipate the set-up and how (and where) they will use it once it’s in their hands. This information supports a better, more satisfying design that will leave a positive impression of the product and the brand.

    I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience. I would like to hear from you, so please share your thoughts in the comment section below or contact me at ben.weedon@gfk.com.


    Learn more about out-of-the-box experiences.

    View our webinar recording, How to think “out of the box” about what your customers are actually buying. In this webinar, Flori Manning, PhD, User Experience Design Director for GfK, highlights what organizations stand to gain from optimizing this memorable experience, user experience best practices and how they are applied to product learnability, and the challenges and considerations for package design and instructions for use (IFU) design.

    You can also download our white paper How to design great product instructions: Five challenges to overcome. In this paper, we detail these challenges and how to overcome them.

    There are so many ways to connect with your customers with respect to instruction design that yield positive outcomes, including successful product use and how users perceive both product and brand. Read the whitepaper to see what techniques are appropriate for your product’s out-of-box experience.

  • GfK User Experience Expert to Deliver Keynote at World Autonomous Vehicle Summit
    • 02/19/16
    • Automotive
    • User Experience (UX)
    • United States
    • English

    GfK User Experience Expert to Deliver Keynote at World Autonomous Vehicle Summit

    Gavin Lew, Executive Vice President of User Experience (UX) at GfK, will deliver the keynote speech at the Vonlathen Group's World Autonomous Vehicle Summit. The two-day summit, located in Stuttgart, Germany, aims to analyze and explore the newest automated driving systems while discussing the future of autonomous driving.

  • Gen X & Gen Y Webinar Series: What Works for Me (Session 3 of 7)
    • 02/02/16
    • User Experience (UX)
    • United States
    • English

    Gen X & Gen Y Webinar Series: What Works for Me (Session 3 of 7)

     

     

  • Turning the Tables
    • 01/25/16
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Australia
    • English

    Turning the Tables

    In one of the latest Research News features, Catherine Eddy explains how turning user experience research tools inwards has helped reduce staff turnover and improve workplace culture.

    • 11/12/15
    • Technology
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    UX and market research: The future of innovation research

    Recently, a client came to us looking for help in designing a new product to revive their languishing business. Despite offering superior technology, their products were struggling, while a key competitor had been gaining momentum.

    We started with an Expert Review of products offered around the world. Our detailed examination of each product’s features returned an expected outcome – our client’s product delivered offered technically superior features than its competition. So, why was their business struggling?

    Once we began to look more deeply into users’ lifestyle, needs, and pain points, we began to understand the reason for the competitor’s success – the competitor product’s features addressed a very specific pain point that others weren’t designed to solve.   When we shifted our focus to better understand user pain points, we uncovered a new set of unmet needs that offered opportunities for innovative designs.

    This foundational information did not come from a user experience study in isolation– it came from the coupling of market research insight to the experience. A deeper examination of both the user and the marketplace in which the product operates helps user experience (UX) researchers and designers uncover a wide range of opportunities for improving existing products or designing completely new ones. Starting the design process from this foundational information ensures that we offer users the products and experiences that not only work well but truly meet their needs and fill a white space in the market.

    The innovation opportunities offered by a UX plus market research partnership don’t stop there. The world around us is filled with products that were redesigned specifically to address a design failure:

    -          Research revealed a popular infant cereal box couldn’t be handled easily in the most common usage situation (while mom is holding a baby). It was hard to open and allowed product to seep out while filling the cereal bowl. It was clear this product needed to be reimagined from the mom’s viewpoint. The manufacturer redesigned the product from the viewpoint of moms’ actual usage experience. An ergonomic container with a flip top and pour spout allowed mom to pour the product with one hand and funneled the product into the bowl resulting in less mess.

    -          In the early days of online shopping, shopping carts were difficult to find and navigate. Users commonly left the website with items in their shopping cart. While this abandonment could be attributed to a buyer’s pause, surprisingly, loss of conversion was also due to frustrations with the shopping cart process. In one case, after we researched to understand why users were leaving their carts full, a popular e-retailer moved the purchase button’s location to the top of the mobile site so it would be more easily found. This small design change increased the business revenue additional $500 million per year.

    -          Blood glucose meters were initially designed with a small font on the read-out screen and limited functionality. Feedback from diabetes patients indicated the need for additional features and functionality, such as dietary tracking and insulin dose monitoring. Adding these features to blood glucose meters was a natural first step, but targeted UX research also identified companion web and mobile applications that would be better tools for the more advanced functionality. This targeted UX research led to innovations such we mealtime insulin reminders and customizable target glucose ranges with personalized alerts.

    These are great examples of successful innovation resulting from the combination of market research insight and user experience design. Ultimately, the future of product design will depend on expertly designing a framework that embeds both market research and UX. Moving out of the silos that separate these research methods and tools will spark incredible ideas and designs that will lead the market.

    For more information contact Meredith Paige at meredith.paige@gfk.com.

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