Ensure Great User Experience
for your Software Product
– By Dwaipayan Chowdhury,
Vice President-BI and Mobility
Our main goal for this paper is to provide guidelines to the readers on basic principles of interaction
designs that ensure a quality user experience (UX). A good user interface is like an electric light: when it
works, nobody notices it. A good user interface seems obvious, but what is not obvious is how to look for
certain elements in development of a product which will facilitate a good user experience. Thus, this paper
addresses what constitutes a positive user experience and some of the processes by which it can be
Interaction has a New Meaning Now
Computing has gone well beyond desktop and laptop computers,
well beyond graphical user interfaces and the Web; computing
has become far more ubiquitous (Weiser, 1991).
Computer systems are being worn by people and embedded
within appliances, homes, offices, stereos and entertainment
systems, vehicles, and roads. Thus, this paper addresses product
development approaches that facilitate a good user experience.
Sitting in front of a desktop or laptop usually conveys a feeling of
“doing computing” to users. Users are aware of interacting with a
computer and interaction is purposeful: for exchanging
information, for getting work done, for learning, for playing or
entertaining, or just for exploring.
Perhaps the most notable and most recognizable (by the public)
example of interaction away from the desktop is seen in mobile
communications. With an obvious enormous market potential,
mobile communications is perhaps the fastest growing area of ubiquitous computing with personal
devices; it also represents one of the most intense areas of designing for a quality user experience (Clubb,
2007; Kangas & Kinnunen, 2005; Macdonald, 2004; Venkatesh, Ramesh, & Massey, 2003).
User experience is the totality
of the effect or effects felt by a
user as a result of interaction
with, and the usage context of,
a system, device, or product,
including the influence of
usability, usefulness, and
emotional impact during
interaction, and savoring the
memory after interaction.
“Interaction with” is broad and
embraces seeing, touching,
and thinking about the system
or product, including admiring
it and its presentation before
any physical interaction
From Usability to User Experience
Usability includes characteristics such as ease of use, productivity,
efficiency, effectiveness, learnability, retainability, and user
satisfaction (ISO9241-11, 1997).
Is not “Dummy Proofing”
Is not equivalent to being “user-friendly.”
While visual design is an integral and important part of usability, it is not the only part of interaction design
User Experience Includes
Effects experienced due to usability factors
Effects experienced due to usefulness factors
Effects experienced due to emotional impact
The field of interaction design has grown slowly, and our concept of what constitutes quality in our designs
has expanded from an engineering focus on user performance under the aegis of usability into what is
now widely known as user experience.
To users, the interaction experience is the system. Users have an effort threshold beyond which they give
up and are not able to access the desired functionality. All other things being equal, a product that affords a
better user experience often outsells ones with even more functionality.
Utility - The utility of a website refers to the usefulness, importance, or interest of the site content (i.e., the information, products, or services offered by the site) to the visitor.
Functional integrity – A website's functional integrity is simply the extent to which it works as intended. Dead links, freezes, and browser non-compatibility reduce the integrity of a site.
Usability - Usability refers to how easy it is to learn (for both first time and infrequent visitors) and use (for frequent visitors) a website. A site can have high utility and high functional integrity and still be very difficult to learn or inefficient and tedious to use.
Persuasiveness - Persuasiveness refers to the extent to which the experience visitors have encourages and promotes specific behaviors, often referred to as “conversions.”
Graphic design - Finally, the look and feel of a website can have a significant impact on the visitor experience. The graphic design of a website - primarily the ways colors, images, and other media are used - invoke emotional reactions in visitors that may or may not contribute to the site's goals.
A UX Process Life-Cycle
In this lifecycle, specific to a UX process,
analysis translates to understanding
user work and needs. Design translates
to creating conceptual design along
with determining interaction behavior
and look and feel. Implementation
t rans lates to protot yping , and
evaluation translates to ways to see if
the design is on track to meet user
needs and requirements
The entire lifecycle, especially the
prototyping and evaluation activities, is supplemented and guided by UX goals, metrics, and targets.
Choosing a Process
The lifecycle diagram accommodates the need for many different kinds of UX processes. Because it is a
template, one must instantiate the process for each project by choosing the parts that best suit the project
parameters. To support each activity, the team can pick from a variety of sub-activities, methods,
techniques, and level of rigor with which these activities are carried out. The resulting instantiation can
range from a heavyweight, rigorous, and complete
process to a lightweight, rapid, and “just enough”
Among the many possible factors you could
consider in choosing a process to instantiate the
lifecycle template are:
Type of System Being Designed
Development Organizational Culture
The interaction and work domain complexity should be considered when choosing a process.
UX Goals and Metrics
A UX target table (as presented by Whiteside, Bennett, and Holtzblatt ) gives a good starting point to
measure UX goals and metrics. A spreadsheet is an obvious way to implement these tables.
Because UX targets are aimed at specific work roles, each UX target is associated to a work role since
different roles in the user models perform different tasks.
Within a UX target, the UX measure is the general user experience characteristic to be measured with
respect to usage of the interaction design.
Within a UX target, the measuring instrument is a description of the method for providing values for the
particular UX measure. The measuring instrument is how data are generated; it is the vehicle through
which values are measured for the UX measure.
A UX metric describes the kind of value to be obtained for a UX measure. It states what is being measured.
There can be more than one metric for a given measure. The baseline level is the benchmark level of the UX
metric; it is the “talking point” level against which other levels are compared. It is often the level that has
been measured for the current version of the system (automated or manual).
The target level for a UX metric is the value indicating attainment of user experience success. It is a
quantification of the UX goal for each specific UX measure and UX metric.
UX Methods for Agile Development
A rigorous UX process is probably the most effective path to ensuring a quality user experience for systems
with complex work domains and complex interaction. However the predominant methodology for today’s
development world is Agile and the UX process needs to adjust to that. In Nielsen’s words
(http://www.useit.com/alertbox/agile-user-experience.html), the key things are to “separate design and
development, and have the user interface team progress one step ahead of the implementation team”
and to “maintain a coherent vision of the user interface architecture. Create the initial vision during a
‘sprint zero’ period-before any implementation has started-and maintain it through annual (or semiannual) design vision sprints”.
One of the ways to manage the UX process is to introduce a parallel sprint with the UX person and
customer as shown in the diagram below.
In conclusion to be competitive only features is not enough; a good user experience is equally
The UX Book Process and guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience by REX HARTSON and PARDHAS. PYLA
Dr. Deborah J. Mayhew, Consultant, Deborah J. Mayhew & Associates CEO, The Online User experience Institute