Exclusive interview with Jason Huang, Founder & CEO of TANG Experience Innovation Consultant, by Chinese CEO Daily Talk, Forbeschina.com
The concept of “user experience” was proposed by Donald Norman as early as 25 years ago. But this word didn’t get appreciated really until around 2010 in China. Starting from the iPhone, we have seen learning about user experience from technology giants such as Apple and Google is very common, and this word “user experience” appears in various Internet-related topics every day. But, how much do we learn about user experience?
In this issue, the Chinese CEO Daily Talk invited Jason Huang, the founder and CEO of TANG to be the guest speaker. Jason is a veteran with ten years of experience in the field of user experience and is in the list of Top Ten Youths in Design of China, 2012. The following are the wonderful views he shared:
The user experience began to be appreciated among companies since the success of iPhone. Many people once holding the view that the user experience equaled to the UI design began to have access to interface architecture, interaction details, and multi-point interactions, etc. Today, many mobile phone brands are able to do as well as Apple in terms of these respects, but they have never been able to break the ecosystem composed of software, hardware and services that is built by Apple through using computers, mobile phones, tablets, and Apple Stores.
In this system you can feel that its user experience-centric strategy is not only for a single product but throughout the entire system. This requires powerful design leadership behind products and services to ensure an industry-leading experience for consumers. Therefore, I have always insisted that user experience is more than design of functions and UI, it is also about the brand new concept and ideas that the innovators and managers should adhere to in product positioning, concept design, detailed design and development, iterative improvement, marketing, etc. from the user’s perspective.
Take the case that TANG helped the InterContinental Hotels Group design cross-channel user experience based on Web, Wap and App as an example, during the design process, we not only need to define the functional requirements of consumers as well as design styles for each channel, but also build an electronic service ecosystem based on the three channels. While in this system there are both OTAs such as Ctrip and other travel industry players. How can a hotel group achieve excellent user experience in different systems, platforms and channels, thus enhancing the influence and income of the Group. Although what are finally presented to the user may be just a few sets of UIs, there are a number of discussions and decisions in terms of products, services, and businesses during the process.
In addition, the concept of user experience is not only for the Internet products, but also should be valued by in fields of financial services, aviation, medical, transportation, social, etc.
How can a hotel group achieve excellent user experience in different systems, platforms and channels, thus enhancing the influence and income of the Group
User experience is by no means just confined to UI, since a product with good appearance is not always a truly good product.
For many entrepreneurs, the attention to the user experience is just at the level of the VI; going further, it is about interaction. At the same time, most entrepreneurs know or agree with the concept of “Lean Startup”, the core meaning of which is a diversified, efficient, small and sophisticated team. Technology, commerce and design serve as the three core components, while the user experience exactly leads to what users can gain through perfect combination of the three. Most of the hot mobile Internet startups in China are for ordinary consumers, and the importance of user experience is self-evident. User positioning, business model, product function and user interface, are all related to user experience.
Therefore, the entrepreneurial team should focus on the following three points to continuously create value for consumers:
1. Product functions, processes, architecture, and visual interfaces are essential for achieving success, and should be paid attention to and managed by a specialist in your team;
2. Since a perfect product is gained through constant interactions with the market and users, it is necessary to build an efficient and iterative mechanism for user feedback and experience improvement;
3. The user experience should not only be valued by the head of the team, but should gain attention from the entire startup team. Whether you can reach a consensus on innovative ideas and concepts as well as do a good job in product experience - this often plays a decisive role in achieving sustainable development of the entire team.
In short, the user experience is a figure of “T” for the startup team; the vertical is to solve the basic interaction and interface problems, while the horizontal is about the innovation strategy and concept that runs through the team with the user experience as the core and is recognized by all.
Technology, commerce and design serve as the three core components, while the user experience exactly leads to what users can gain through perfect combination of the three.
A good product is achieved through constant improvement bit by bit.
As a systematic concept and project, user experience has its own concerns in the early, middle and late stages. Moreover, the consumer experience is very complicated involving numerous details. So when you finally get the correct direction and prototype of the product, you will find that “a good product is achieved through constant improvement bit by bit” is a truth. Here are a few tips I have organized:
1. In the fledging days of the business, you need to introduce people with user experience-oriented thinking or related background. Such person will control the overall processes and promote the entire team to consider the product, business model, function and design from the perspective of the consumer, to avoid the situation that user experience didn’t gain attention until at the final design implementation link;
2. Design leadership is required in the process of designing and developing: design is not a democratic vote, and shall by no means become a result of compromise, which will often result in a tweener at the end.
3. The role your products and functions play in the entire consumer ecosystem is important: you can cut to the point through single product or function, but don't forget to analyze them from a consumer perspective. For example, Suishouji is a good app; but it is the role the app plays in spending management of consumers that determines whether the app will be kept or not. What mainly differentiates your products from other existing ones? The function is absolute, while the user experience is often relative, to the ecology.
The success of the UI does not mean the commercial success of the product: in terms of design, it is possible for an excellent visual designer to complete an amazing work. But from a commercial point of view, no perfect product can be achieved once by anyone. Good products are basically generated through iterations, and this iteration is not only confined to development, but is also about interaction between products and consumers.
Finally, the significance of the user experience for a company can be summarized in three words: strategic, systematic, and long-term.
Good products are basically generated through iterations, and this iteration is not only confined to development, but is also about interaction between products and consumers.
User experience is an eternal topic in the Internet world. However, many entrepreneurs, even Internet veterans, regard the improvement of user experience as the last part of product design, while such products may acquire a large number of users at the beginning due to rigid demand and less competition in the market. But such business will be broken once a powerful competitor emerges and brings a better user experience, with Nokia as a classic case.