Every product we use offers a user experience regardless of whether or not there has been an intentional thought and effort put into it. UX as a phenomenon has always existed but the overwhelming increase of competition in the last couple of decades necessitated the exploration of such concepts as competitors started to look for ways to elevate their offerings.
Quantifying and qualifying user experience is a gargantuan multi-faceted task that is based on a broad, subjective, and abstract idea of what is good. In the world of web and software development, however, many frameworks have been introduced to help us understand and dissect the components of an experience so that we are able to consider them individually and improve them in ways that result in a better experience as a whole.
One of the most famous of these frameworks is Peter Morville’s UX Honeycomb which breaks down the user experience into 7 attributes. But before we dive deep into our own take on it, we should briefly talk about reliability in user experience.
Reliability is not included in the above-mentioned framework simply because it is a dissatisfier attribute. In other words, reliability in a product is not a merit on its own (satisfier) but its absence can be detrimental to the user experience.
A software system of any kind should be able to perform and function consistently in ways that the user expects it to. For this reason, conducting extensive testing during the course of development is a prerequisite for providing a great experience for the user. There are powerful solutions in the market such as the Testrigor software testing tool that help you by emulating human interactions and automating tests that exponentially increase the efficiency of the process.
The UX Honeycomb Frame Work
A good product or system scratches a real itch for the user. It is not a solution looking for problems to solve. This attribute reflects the principles of the product-market fit concept to some extent. It is a logical extension of the company’s business model and is centered around its value proposition. Does the technology offer something new or make a cumbersome task easier to do? A product’s usefulness depends on how the answers to these questions translate into features and functionality. A product with a good UX doesn’t need to be one of a kind, but it should serve a meaningful purpose for its user base. The last thing users want is a system with features that do not meet their needs and requirements.
Many confuse UX with usability and while it is not the whole picture, it is indeed an integral part of the user experience as there is no value in a product and its features—however useful they are— when users can’t figure out how to utilize them. Improving usability involves facilitating the means by which users can achieve their objectives effectively and efficiently.
Desirability is the magic touch that glues all the other attributes together and makes the experience something that people yearn for. It is a product of the intangibles such as identity, emotions, and perceived value enhanced through appealing and contextually appropriate aesthetics. Desirability is the reason why users choose one product over another, even if they are identical in every other aspect.
Findability measures the amount of effort and time that a user needs to spend in order to find a product or what she is looking for in a product. In digital products and information systems, it is of utmost importance to design and structure interfaces and information in a way that users can easily find what they are looking for. There is some overlap between usability and findability as finding information can be an end objective that a user may try to achieve. But findability as a concept goes beyond the product to include things like customer support and product website.
Accessibility is about taking into account the whole spectrum of users with varying degrees of abilities at the design level. According to the US government’s accessibility guide: “accessibility is usability for people who interact with products differently”. Inclusive design is about not viewing our abilities as a baseline and extending our solutions to as many people as possible to create great experiences for all users. For example, the CDC reports that 61 million adults in the US live with a disability of whom, roughly 10% suffer from hearing loss and impaired vision. By implementing options for color blind people and captions for those with hearing problems, we have practiced good business as well as improved UX.
Credibility gauges the extent to which users can trust the product and the information provided. Anything that negatively affects the user’s judgment from instances of poor quality control such as inconsistencies and typos to an expression of bad intentions such as presenting misguiding information detracts from the quality of the user experience.