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User Experience

User Experience (UX)

Today’s consumer is bombarded with promises for compelling experiences. They are sophisticated and demanding.  To be successful, a new product or service needs to be intuitive, usable, engaging and desirable.  The user experience needs to be emotional in order to be memorable.  

GfK’s User Experience (UX) research and design experts help our clients create and improve customer experiences for existing or new products and services.

We bring your customers into the heart of the design process from the start; reducing the risk of failed products and costly post-launch changes. We project user insights into all stages of development, from early concepts and prototyping through launch and post-launch activity.

Our user experience findings reveal definitive plans on how to best differentiate your products and services, capitalize on current market opportunities, and guide the UX of future product and service design.

As a result our clients create experiences that are engaging and meaningful; driving user adoption and customer satisfaction. 

Shailesh Manga

UX Labs

GfK’s custom-built UX laboratories across multiple key markets are standardized to ensure consistency and high quality, no matter where the research is conducted. We use our UX labs to host test scenarios to meet any need – from a simulated emergency room to a living room environment – and accommodate everything from focus groups to individual interviews. 

For user experience research outside the traditional laboratory environment, we have unmatched mobile studios that allow data-gathering to occur anywhere in the world, in any setting.

Read more about our UX labs

UXalliance

Our GfK UX team is a founding member of UXalliance, the international user experience network. With more than 500 UX professionals worldwide who speak 30-plus languages combined, the UXalliance gives you access to local experts with deep knowledge of local markets.

To ensure reports are comparable across countries, our partners adhere to strict quality standards and proprietary guidelines. And we have been making global UX research easy since 2005 by offering cost-savings and shorter timelines for multi-country projects.

Related Links:

UXalliance

UX Masterclass bi-annual conference 

Latest insights

Here you can find the latest insights for User Experience. View all insights

    • 04/27/16
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    A compelling answer to the challenge of distracted driving

    One of our clients in the emerging connected vehicle space sponsored research to understand the impact of new technology that incorporates precisely- and logically-placed audio cues on the driver experience.
    • 04/26/16
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • User Experience (UX)
    • Global
    • English

    4 considerations for innovating the automotive industry

    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.

    1. Educate consumers about the benefits of your in-vehicle innovation

    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.

    2. Innovate with a solid user experience (UX) framework

    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.

    3. Consider global attitudinal differences regarding autonomous driving acceptance

    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.

    4. Design the car of the future as a service, not a product

    An interesting result from our Future of Auto study was around market segmentation. The six segments of car buyers were:
    • Safe & Worry Free – Oldest of the segments, this group has below average use of in-vehicle technologies. Typically, they seek inexpensive, easy to use features that will make driving safer.
    • Keep Me Young – This segment enjoys driving and taking care of their vehicle. On average, they seek technologies that enhance the driving experience and performance of their vehicle.
    • Savvy Enthusiasts – This segment enjoys technology and the driving experience. Seek automotive technology that entertains driver and passenger and allows them to connect everyday technologies to their vehicle.
    • From A to B – Importance is placed on practical vehicle features so driving is a safer, more reliable way to get from place to place.
    • Livin’ & Lovin’ Cars – Youngest of the segments, this group highly enjoys both technology and vehicles. Their vehicle reflects who they are, while having entertainment and convenience items close at hand.
    • Young Ambivalent – View their vehicle as an appliance rather than a means freedom or enjoyment, and seek technology that streamlines their devices from home to vehicle.
     
    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.

    Let’s focus our energy on getting it right for the user

    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 gavin.lew@gfk.com (Executive Vice President, User Experience at GfK).
    • 04/20/16
    • Technology
    • Consumer Goods
    • User Experience (UX)
    • 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).
    • 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).
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Shailesh Manga