I recently chaired the World Autonomous Vehicle Summit in Stuttgart, Germany where speakers and attendees peered into their crystal ball to understand what the future holds for the automotive industry. How do manufacturers innovate to embrace the future? What does ‘innovation’ really mean in terms of success? What impact will autonomous driving have on the industry? I reflected on these questions as applied to recent technological announcements and published research. Several themes emerged from these which resulted in four considerations for those innovating the next auto frontier.
Data from our Automotive Technology Insights Report, The future is here…can you see it?, found that consumers are factoring in-vehicle technology as a purchase decision attribute. Moreover, the research revealed that new car intenders would be willing to pay more for new car innovation, such as emergency braking, self-parking control and pre-incident preparation (e.g., automatic seat belt tightening).
On the downside, awareness of what the new vehicle features actually do is quite low. An example of a perceived benefit versus reality was highlighted when the study revealed 65% of respondents did not find autonomous driving appealing if it cannot be used after drinking alcohol. This suggests the need to educate consumers about the benefits and not just list the features as bullet points.
It should be no surprise to anyone that we are at the cusp of great changes in the auto industry. Just a few years ago, the introduction of new vehicle innovations used to be dependent upon the chassis of the car and with the traditional seven to eight year lifecycle, innovation took time. Today’s chassis is more akin to a computer where the product development lifecycle is flexible and fast.
The challenge for manufacturers with this faster lifecycle is to ensure the technology features will work and leapfrog them over competitors. Involving users throughout the development process will result in technology that meets user needs, in a way that they expect it to work and where they want to use it. Stand out from competitors by delivering a great user experience.
Another area the study revealed was the variable acceptance of autonomous-driving vehicles across countries. There was a strong emotional anxiety and fear associated with autonomous driving in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. I argue it’s because we like to drive our cars! Surprisingly, Brazil and China were open to autonomous-driving vehicles.
These differences highlight the need to address attitudes when launching products into markets. In this case, manufacturers should address the fear and anxiety in the U.S., U.K. and German markets. But in Brazil and China, perhaps call out the ride-sharing benefits.
An interesting result from our Future of Auto study was around market segmentation. The six segments of car buyers were:
Of the six segments, the two that bubbled up for me were Young Ambivalent and Living and Loving Cars.
The Young Ambivalent segment is the one that should scare the auto industry. These are consumers who don’t care. While the data only revealed this was 19% of the market (relatively low), when we looked deeper, two thirds of Millennials made up this segment. That is almost an entire generation who are ambivalent to car ownership. And, I don’t have to look too far to understand this – I remember how long it took my son to get his driver’s license.
I am in the Living and Loving Cars segment. I don’t want someone driving my car for me or carpooling. When I asked the conference audience, who were largely from Germany, their feelings about carpooling and car sharing were very negative. People, like me, could not fathom letting someone else drive, eat and smoke in their car.
But I started to rethink how car sharing and autonomous driving would impact how I looked at car ownership. If the car is autonomous, it becomes a service not a product. It is clearer to me that autonomous driving is changing car ownership to a service.
And I’m not the only one thinking this. In June 2015, Deutsche Bank downgraded Progressive because they see this change. “We believe the concurrent rise of instant ridesharing and autonomous vehicles presents real questions as to whether there will even be an auto insurance industry as we know it in twenty years…Vehicle utilization will rise and cars on the road will decline as one car can serve the driving needs of multiple travelers per day, which, in-turn, means fewer cars,” said their analysts.
With this looming shift in the auto industry, I’m reminded of a quote from Bill Gates: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” (The Road Ahead, 1996). While everyone continues to speculate how autonomous driving will impact the future, let’s focus our energy on getting it right for the user.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (Executive Vice President, User Experience at GfK).
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 email@example.com (User Experience Specialist at GfK).
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.
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, Lauren Zack, , will detail how an organization (and its investors) should decide when a product is ready to ship.
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?
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (Senior Lead User Experience Specialist at GfK).
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?
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.
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 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 email@example.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
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?
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:
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.
It’s all about the user experience:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.