Coming from an engineering background, I, too fall into the trap of focusing too much on product. It is no doubt that as our technological prowess progress, there are some of us who become more and more entrenched in the technology itself – to the point of losing grip of where the end product will end up. That is what gives rise to terms such as UX (user experience) and UI (user interface). It is important to keep in mind that the technology that succeed are the ones that are made for the mass rather ones made to be ‘technological sweet’.
It behooves us to contemplate about the human made objectives that we have encounter with in our everyday lives. For example, why is it that the coffee mug is shaped in a tall and slim fashion rather than in a short and fat teapot fashion? Why is the phone that we hold has a touch keypad interface and that the solid keypad interface as we’ve seen from the blackberry devices died out?
As I recently attended a presentation hosted by SVC Wireless, a non-profit organization hosting startup events and technology conferences, Kimberly Johnson, a Google employee focusing on this topic, helped me puzzle together the story. As Johnson said, it’s not just the user interface but the overall user experience that matters. Moreover, as a guidance for every entrepreneur and technocrats out there, products should be designed in the perspective of its end users. In every part of the process, from idealization and brainstorming to launch and maintenance, the one key component that should always be present is the focus on users.
Furthermore, Johnson stressed that in the past, the question is oftentimes “Who can do user research”. However, in an era where technology is seeping into every part of our lives, the question becomes “Who cares about your users?” In response to this, the follow up strategy then becomes “stop pitching, [and] start listening”.
As a final thought, Johnson recommended that it’s never the “user’s fault”. Instead of penalizing users for their seemingly inexperience in using the product, the innovators should take the step not only to actively train users in technologies but also reduce the transitional barrier so the users can grasp the new product with ease.