Interview with Forbes China website | Do we really understand customer experience?


Forbes China Daily Talk with Chinese CEOs: Interview with TANG User Experience Consulting Founder & CEO Jason Huang

’User experience‘ is a concept introduced by Donald Norman 25 years ago. But in China, the term began to prevail around 2010. Every day, domestic companies are learning about user experience from technology giants like Apple and Google. The term ‘user experience’appears in big and small Internet topics on a daily basis. But, do we really understand user experience?

In this issue, Daily Talk with Chinese CEOs invited TANG User Experience Consulting Founder & CEO Jason Huang as our guest. Jason Huang is a senior professional with ten years' experience in user experience, and one of the Ten Outstanding Youths of China's design industry in 2012. He shared with us the following wonderful views.

User experience is not an independent part, but goes throughout the entire system.

User experience being truly recognized by enterprises is attributed to Apple iPhone's success. Through Apple, many people who used to equal user experience to UI design got to know about interface frameworks, interactive details and multi-point interactive modes, etc. Today, many mobile phone brands are not inferior to Apple in these respects, but they still can't compete with Apple's ecosystem that consists of Apple PCs, mobile phones, tablets, Apple Stores, software, hardware and services.

You can feel in the system that Apple's user experience-based strategy isn't just a part of a single product, but goes throughout the entire system. This requires strong design leadership behind the products and services to always ensure that consumers are provided with industry-leading experience. So, I always believe in the idea that user experience is not just the design of product functions and UI, but a new user-based concept and thinking of innovators and managers that goes through all the steps including product positioning, conceptual design, detailed design and development, iterative improvement and marketing.

For example, TANG helped IHG design cross-channel user experience mainly on Web, mobile web and App. During the design process, we needed to define consumers' functional needs and design styles of various channels, as well as to create an electronic service ecosystem mainly based on the three channels. The system needed to include OTA companies like Ctrip and other tourism industry players. We had to figure out how a hotel brand offers great user experience at different systems, platforms and channels to improve its influence and profits. Although the ultimate products displayed to the users are probably just sets of UIs, the whole process involves many discussions and decision-making about products, services and business.

Moreover, user experience is not a concept only for Internet products. It should be valued by financial services, airline, healthcare, transportation and social media industries.

User experience is never just UI. Good-looking products are not necessarily good-quality products.

Many entrepreneurs' emphasis on user experience is just visually, or interactively. Meanwhile, most entrepreneurs know or recognize the concept of Lean Startup, which emphasizes a diversified, efficient and 'lean' team. At its core, there are three elements: technology, business and design, which, when perfectly combined together, offer consumers good user experience. The mobile Internet start-up businesses that prevail in China mostly target ordinary consumers, so the importance of user experience goes without saying. Whether it be user positioning,business model, product function or user interface, they are all related to user experience.

So, if an entrepreneurial team hopes to constantly create value for consumers, more attention should be paid to the following three points.

1. Product functions, processes, frameworks and visual interfaces are the foundation for success. There must be someone in your team paying much attention to and managing them.

2.A perfect product is developed through interaction with the market and users, so an efficient iterative user feedback and experience improvement system should be created.

3.User experience should not only be the concern of the person-in-charge, but the focus of the entire entrepreneurial team. Whether all members have a unified innovative idea and concept and persist in making good product experience is generally a primary factor in determining the sustainable development of the entrepreneurial team.

In a word, for an entrepreneurial team,user experience is a 'T' , where the vertical line represents the solution of basic interactive and interface issues, and the horizontal line the entire team's unified user experience-based innovation strategy and idea.

All good products come slowly.

User experience is a systematic thinking and there are critical focal points in the early,middle and late stages of product innovation.

1.In the early stage,a person with experience and thinking in user experience needs to be introduced to the team.His function is to help the team observe products business model, functions and design from the consumers' perspective to avoid the thinking of user experience from the design implementation stage.

2.During product design and development,the design leadership is required. Design is neither a result of public vote, nor the result of compromise.In most cases, the result of compromise leads to a product that is a mismatch of isolated modules.

3.Your product and function plays an important role in the entire consumer ecosystem. You can start from a single product or function, but you should always remember to analyze things from consumers' perspective. For example, Handy Note is a good App, but to consumers, your role in consumer management is crucial for the sustainability of the App. What's the core difference between your product and other existing products? The function should be absolutely good, while user experience is usually relative, relative to the ecosystem.

Successful UI design doesn't mean the business success of a product. From the aspect of design, there are truly great visual designers making an outstanding product. But from the aspect of business, there is not a great man who can make a great product at one time. Good products are generally created through iterative development and interaction between products and consumers.

Finally, the significance of user experience to a company can be summarized by three words: strategic, systematic and long-term.

User experience is an eternal topic in the Internet industry. But many entrepreneurs, even senior Internet professionals consider the improvement of user experience as the last part in product design. Such a product may gain a large user base due to rigid demand and lack of market competition in the early stage. But it will be easily defeated by a strong competitor that offers better user experience. A classic case is Nokia.

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