UX Design Combined with Smart Technology: It’s the Small Things
The 34 floor Hyatt Regency I stayed had what I call a ‘smart elevator’ system. I wheeled my luggage to the elevator, after an extremely easy check in process. There, I did not see the standard up/down touch pad. Thus began my UX design adventure in the Hyatt. The only possible choice was a touch screen pad off to the side. At the pad, there were 6 button looking choices, none of which immediately made sense. But, my only logical choice was the one labeled ‘guest rooms’. I pushed that one and it returned a 2nd screen of floor choices.
After selecting my floor, 32, it too-quickly flashed another screen with instructions on it. It took another two go arounds before I realized that the 5 elevators were labeled ‘A’ through ‘E’, and the screen was telling me which elevator would take me to my floor. Once I got it, it was extremely easy. Never once did I wait more than a minute for my elevator. In fact, the elevator was almost always an immediate arrival. It was rare that the elevator car had more than us in it, even though there were always people in the lobby using the system.
Change, Learning Curve, & Positive Results
This new, to me, elevator system and its short learning curve had me thinking about change, UX design, and user experience in a much broader sense. Using the elevator’s new system had a very short learning curve, as does using a freshly redesigned website. Being in the website UX design business, I am aware of what must have gone into this departure from the norm on elevator design. The elevator manufacturer took time to evaluate an established expectation. Then, with the mindset of making it better and faster for the user, they improved the experience.
In the case of the hotel, guests want to get to their room. In the case of a website, they want to find out specific info. Invariably, they want to get to their destination in the quickest way possible. The path to one’s goal needs to be clearly marked. But no matter how clear, the very first approach will have a learning curve.
The goal of the user experience professional is to minimize the time a brand new user needs to achieve their specific goal(s). In the case of the elevator pad, it took me about 15 seconds of focused attention the very first approach to complete my task. I definitely had to read the instructions and use my logic to figure it out. However, once I did, I marveled at the genius and simplicity of the smart elevator system. Future elevator rides took a second to enable, with always a very quick elevator wait.
The best way to discern how your website can be set up to be used as easily as possible, is to study your typical customer, to best understand how & why they use your service.
Steps to Improve UX Design & Experience
When a website is designed with the user’s value in mind the end results are, increased credibility & customer satisfaction, and improved conversions. How we approach a better user experience with a reduced initial learning is with great persona development, use case scenarios, and user testing. For a continual improvement loop, we would add feedback & implementation into the cycle.
The best way to make your website’s important information as easily found and used as possible, is to study your typical customer. Briefly, to define your persona profile, you list the qualities of your stereotypical customer. In the instance of the Hyatt Regency, that person might be described as:
- Business traveler
- Advanced Degree/Education
- Technologically savvy
- Too 10% wealth
- ‘Time is money’ mindset
We would create personas for a high-achieving website as well, perhaps adding a name and nationality, to give our persona a personality. Then list what specific tasks our fictitious user/visitor might regularly want to achieve to create your use case scenarios.
Use Case Scenarios
Defining commonly performed tasks and how a person achieves these tasks begets your use case scenarios. We would then ‘walk through’ each task trying to eliminate unnecessary steps or friction points, with the goal of eliminating or reducing these pain points. We might plot or chart them for visual cues on what can be improved upon. In the case of the website, we want to reduce clicks to getting a street address for your doctor’s closest office, the customer service/complaint form for the airline, or the request for consultation. In the case of the Hyatt Regency, a system for getting guests to their room incredibly efficiently.
User testing is where we can confirm our user experience design as fine as is. Or, does it require change for an even better user experience. Essentially, we bring actual users into the mix. Users will perform specific functions while we watch them. We note any spots in the process that can be problematic and therefore improved. Improvements of our website happens in a iterative improvement cycle.
In the case of the elevator, once I was in the car, there were only open and close buttons. Along the side of the door was a digital display noting the floors the car would stop. The smart programming made stops incredibly efficient for people using the elevator. My time spent waiting for, and riding in, an elevator was greatly reduced. The reduced stress in waiting for the elevator was not left unnoticed. While such a minor item, these types of niceties added up and left me with a lasting positive impression of my stay at the Hyatt Regency.
The goal of the UX design professional is to make your visitors stay (hotel or website) as easy and stress free as possible. Doing so, builds continual goodwill and higher visitor return rates.