We spend so many hours using IT devices these days and experience a range of emotions such as happiness, anger and regret with them. What determines how we feel when using IT devices is UX(User Experience) design. Can subjective human feelings really be designed though? Let me introduce you to UX design to answer this question.
UX and UE Design
UX is the total experiences that users have when choosing and using products and services. The first time the concept of UX appeared was in the 1970s and 1980s, after the emergence of HCI (Human-Computer Interaction). What HCI ultimately aimed to do was to help achieve the best interactions between humans and machines.
UX research, developed based on HCI, started studying the emotional factors such as amusement and aesthetics that machines bring to people. This means UX aims for something higher than cognitive purposes like usability or achievements of tasks. Accordingly users are no longer seen as analytic objects but as ones to be empathized. The results of this research lead to some of the most important factors in developing new products and services.
What is it actually like to design UX, though? When it comes to the word, Design, we first imagine the external appearance. UX design, however, is a little different from the typical designing that we know of. Unlike other designs that focus on drivability and functions, UX design studies what the best design is for users.
Take a look at the key map above. What developers cared about most in the beginning was function, but they started focusing on designing the usability and emotions that devices offer. Now they not only have to create products that simply look good, but also bring positive emotions to the people using them. In other words, the interaction between devices and users advanced into comprehensive UX design which drives positive experiences for users.
Why Is UX Design So Important?
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of UX design is to provide positive experiences from the user’s point of view. There were many great products with amazing UX even before the concept of UX came about, but its concept itself has been more emphasized lately with the development and distribution of IT. Because software that runs all computers and smart devices tends to be quite abstract, making it easy to use becomes more important.
IT device users have to follow the developer’s intentions. Even the functions already installed inside the device have may become unusable if the developer doesn’t properly mark them with a certain button. This is why digital devices are evaluated based on the efficiency that users experience, instead of their simple functional quality. This means implementing the user’s point of view is one of the key factors in developing products. As smartphones have become living necessities, understanding the customer’s mind is rising as the mandatory requirement in product design.
UX Design in G Smartphone Series from LG Electronics
Nielson Norman Group, a UX consulting company, suggests two conditions for great UX: First is ‘to meet the exact customer’s needs, without fuss or bother’. Next is ‘simplicity and elegance to produce a product that gives a joy to use and to posses’. Let’s see how the G smartphone series from LG Electronics satisfies such conditions.
The G series from LG Electronics has shown creative and advanced UX. The “Knock On” function which was introduced with the G2 in 2013 is one of the best examples. This function allows you to unlock the phone from sleep mode in an intuitive way by tapping its screen twice. All smartphones before the G series required having a button near the top of the screen or on the side to unlock them from sleep mode.
The “Knock On” function definitely satisfies the requirements for UX suggested by Nielson Norman Group. When the user cannot hold or reach the device, the “Knock On” function provides a whole new UX by changing the behavioral pattern of the user. LG Electronics upgraded the “Knock On” function for G Pro 2 in 2014, and a new function through which users can open the home screen with their own personal knock codes.
The G series from LG Electronics shows the effort to understand the UX from users’ point of view in order to make smartphones easier to use.
UX design helps us have better experiences with products, and is advancing with a simple and clear goal of creating more attractive products for users. Many companies are adopting the idea of UX design in various areas from product planning to marketing.
Recognizing such a trend, LG CNS established the first UX lab in the IT field in 2009. I interviewed two members in the lab to understand better this field and I’d like to share my interview on how LG CNS is advancing their UX design.
What does the lab do?
LG CNS UX lab’s work includes discovering new intangible services for the company, creating UX strategies/plans/designs for all interfaces, product and space design, and UX research. We have run various projects such as creating a mobile cloud office system for better work efficiency with services based on users’ perspectives as well as designing products and the mobile service for a 3D intelligent camera called the smart vision sensor.
What is the best project from this lab in terms of UX?
I think the best was the charger for electric cars. This charger is an example of a truly convenient and new service where IT and UX converge. It has fulfilled the goal of UX design by understanding the users’ point of view.
Many people tend to feel lost using a self-service gas station, especially when they’re older. It’s hard to tell if payment has been made correctly or if gas has spilled anywhere.
The part we focused on the most while developing the electric vehicle charger was intuitiveness. We wanted it to be as easy as getting a cup of coffee from a vending machine. We went through designing, mockup tests, and implementation with a goal in mind of a clear design that anyone can use without getting lost. This is why I chose this project to be most successful in terms of both business and UX.
Is there anything you would like to say to the students wanting to become UX designers?
What’s most important is to look around your environment. UX is all about finding problems and answers by understanding users. Understanding people is the first step to create a good UX design. It’s also important to know how to communicate. UX covers many different fields of business and includes a cooperative process.
Students in related majors must first know exactly what they want to do in the future, and then work on the skill set needed to reach that goal. I hope to see more cases creating real value through UX in the era of IoT.
Today, we learned about the emergence and development of UX design. It is quite interesting that there are people working constantly to understand how we feel behind the day-to-day products we use. Their effort to create better value won’t cease.
As emphasis on UX design has been getting stronger since the beginning of IoT, UX will become more specialized and segmented. I hope UX can become a happy bridge that will connect IT and human beings.
Written by Yoonjung Choi, University student reporter for LG CNS