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User Experience In Montreal

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Excuse this rant, but Users should count more since products and services are created for their users. If more users ranted about their dissatisfactions, perhaps the message would begin to get through.

Three examples of poor user experience came up this week. The first was a reader exchange in the Gazette about the difficulties encountered at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport at Dorval. For years, meeting visitors arriving on domestic flights has been a most unsatisfactory experience. However despite redesigns it never seems to get better. If only ADM would do user tests or user surveys to get inputs on how improvements could be made.

The second example is the Gazette itself. There are many small items that complicate the user’s ability to navigate the paper. For the second time this week, we again have a 1 1/2 page "pop-off" around the outside of the paper that makes reading the paper more difficult. It’s even more irritating than the pop-up ads that clutter up some websites. Again user tests would perhaps show the publishers the error of their ways.

The third example is perhaps the most extreme in terms of poor user experience. It’s the site celebrating Canada Day, to be found at celafete.ca produced by Célébrations Canada. As Kate McDonnell points out, the website’s coy design and programming make it nearly impossible to find a simple listing of events. More critically in terms of user experience, it really is a disaster in so many ways.

How such examples can continue to appear is a mystery. Those companies and agencies that push for excellence know that the only true measure of performance is User Experience. For instance, just check out how IBM is involved in what might be called the User Experience Race. It cites a definition of user experience by the Nielsen Norman Group, a Fremont, California, company that is one of the world leaders in helping companies design human-centered products.

User experience encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services and its products. The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers merely what they say they want, or providing checklist features.

The way to ensure excellent user experience is to do user tests early and often. Here is how Usability Sciences describes the benefits:

Benefits of Evaluating User Experience and Conducting Usability Tests

  • User experience obstacles are revealed. Many times designers and developers are so familiar with the product or site functions that they are not aware of potential problems that can cause the user experience to be unpleasant or difficult.
  • Internal debates are more easily settled. When insights and recommendations are supported through user testing or research, there is no more debate. Positive user experience and success based on intent are the goals, after all.
  • It saves you time and money. Testing during the design and development stage can catch critical user experience improvements that will later save considerable amounts of time and money once the website or product is launched. It just makes sense to build in a positive user experience from the start.
  • Bottom line – it gives you a competitive advantage. At the end of the day, the company who offers their users the best experience wins the race.

One can only hope that more and more companies and agencies will realize there is a user experience race and they should be trying to be winners.

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