Category: Conferences and Events, Innovation

What is user experience?


Frank-blog-imageIf you were trying to find your way to the airport and saw the two signs above, which way would you go?

Given our natural inclination to read from top to bottom, there are many people who would be inclined to go right, given the direction of the plane’s nose points to the right. In fact, the airport is to the left.

Rearranging the placement of these directional signs to align with the way most people read is an example of user experience, or UX.

Product development professionals from Boston Financial recently attended “The Business, Science and Art of the User Experience,” an event hosted by the Greater Boston Chapter of the Product Development Management Association at Bentley University. This subject was passionately presented by Professor Bill Gribbons, founder of Bentley’s User Experience Center.

User experience is the degree to which a system design aligns with the natural abilities and limitations of the user. It is measured by intuitiveness, ease-of-learning, reduction in errors, productivity, transfer of learning, and alignment with user and business goals.

How might the principles of user experience be applied in the mutual fund industry? Consider the example of designing a user interface for new account applications. User experience testing could help you measure the effectiveness of your design before putting it into production.

For starters, you would begin by recruiting representative users for a “test drive.”

Next, through tracking, recording and then analyzing eye movement, determine where people are looking on the page, and for how long. Also make note of where they are not looking. Are they moving through screens in the order in which you intended? What meaning can you derive from facial expressions? Do you see frustration or long stares at a particular screen?

To complement this data, by means of a wrist band sensor, biometrics can be used to measure emotional engagement. For example, an increased heart rate can correlate to agitation. Biometrics is particularly effective for testing apps on mobile devices.

Finally, users can be surveyed about their “test driving” experience.

With this user experience research, you now have sufficient data to know if your design will resonate with your customers.

What are the lessons learned from Dr. Gribbon’s user experience presentation? When designing products, trust your instincts. If an application or interface makes intuitive sense to you, it is likely to make intuitive sense to others. And then, because we don’t all share the same instincts, test.

Frank Citrone

Frank Citrone

Frank works for Boston Financial's New Business and Product Development Team. He is managing the development of the Compliance Program Products and is developing a structure around Boston Financial’s Product Development process. Frank joined Boston Financial in 2004, working on the Federated Transition. He then developed Boston Financial’s first Project Management Methodology, centralized the Project Management function and established the Project Management Office. Prior to joining Boston Financial, Frank worked for Columbia Management, Liberty Financial and Colonial Management.


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