GigaOm’s latest two events, Structure Connect and Roadmap 2014, focused on the latest trends and disruptors of new technologies. Roadmap (held in San Francisco on November 18-19) focused on the product design and its significance in making products a success or in creating ‘abandoned’, ignored solutions.
In the current tech environment, we are all continuously connected to the Internet, various devices, and have instant access to diverse and large amounts of resources, such as apps, data, tools, etc. The relationship between technology and users has changed, driving design to become a major power in determining adoption. Today, the user experience is in the forefront of technology companies, where great design creates sleek products that disrupt industries. Leading designers, technology innovators, and product developers know that tech-related products today live and die by design. However, we are still at the beginning of this phase, where designers and technologists are still learning how to work together.
Apple’s products, devices, user interface, and apps are often used as an example to demonstrate how great design can drive adoption rates and uncompromising loyal consumers. However, first-rate design is not only limited to products per-say. Facebook has revolutionized the social media platform by introducing an engaging user interface design. Uber introduced a new type of customer behavior app, where its design has been the groundbreaker of on-demand experience.
Design holds a value advantage and used in strategizing content among tech publishers today. The focus is on ‘mobile first’ along with an ‘awesome’ user experience on the website. The website is no longer viewed as is a placeholder. Therefore, the number of active users or unique visitors per a time period (like in a week, in a day, in a month) are not the best metrics any longer. Tracking these numbers as well as how long has the user spent on the site, on which content (pages), and the the individual navigation around the site, give a deeper insight into users’ behavior, preferences and interests.
How to create awesome design?
At GigaOm Structure, several design experts talked about building frameworks for integrating design into the tech company culture. Oftentimes, designers need to find their own way, trying to convince management, the product managers or investors to prioritize design into the development process. At the forefront, product designers, product managers and engineers need to collaborate. When focusing on design, one of the main challenges is to gain and maintain customer trust. A functional, easy-to-use, and engaging design has the prospect of accelerating adoption. For example, autonomous vehicles have become a reality and most Americans are intrigued by their concept. Convincing drivers to use them is another story and 88% of Americans reported reluctancy to use a driverless car today. Similarly, many people relate to robotic devices with suspicion and unease.
To encourage customer comfort and build users’ trust, designers often offer customization or features that create the feeling of “I’m in control”; “I’m the decision maker”. For example, to build trust in autonomous cars, designers can allow drivers to set their preferred speed limit range; their weather condition preferences for driving, or allow driver-initiated actions to override automatic controls. Robots can be made to act more like humans (friendliness concept), even have human-like speech flaws (use of slang, pauses, “Um”s, slight stuttering, etc.), which may offer a social-like interaction.
Some designers pay attention to sensorial experiences. These breakthroughs may include listening to music through the person’s mouth by conducting vibrations through the teeth. Or process smell sensors to gauge if a person is outdoors, at home, drinks coffee (morning?), meal times, etc. The idea is to explore how to increase user comfort, engage effectively, retain customers, and increase adoption.
The wearable markets present new opportunities for designers. According to analysts, wearable devices are becoming hot consumer goods, with a prediction of reaching $18 billion by 2019. Wearables offer a fundamentally new customer interface and user experience. Although these gadgets are considered portable devices, wearables, like Apple Watch or the Will.I.am new Puls, function differently from a smartphone or a tablet. Today, wearables are mainly used for health and fitness experiences. New inputs, a variety of sensors, data collection technologies, as well as digital device communication modes offer new opportunities to designers. For example, sensing force, gravitational pull, touch, etc. can enable heartbeat monitoring, tracking steps, and other athletic and health-related activities. Wearables bring tremendous benefits to several service and healthcare sectors where hands-free technology is essential.
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