Over the past month, I’ve had nightmare customer service with Motorola, regarding my dying Droid. Being blatantly lied to and misled by several representatives (including an L2 supervisor) put a sour taste in my mouth.

Rather than let this post turn into a rant, however, it spurred a lot of personal thought about user experience. In my mind, UX is the interface by which users and customers interact with your company. This interface covers many different fronts: product, policies, support, tone, etc. There are a million UX design tactics to employ, but I like to think about it holistically.

UX is the interpretation layer between customers and the insiders in your company.

The closer your internal view is to the external view, the more users will trust you, and the more fulfilling your company will be to be a part of. Letting the marketing message diverge from the internal attitude is a slippery slope towards becoming faceless. Customers naturally gravitate towards offerings that have soul, and cultures that they can relate to.

 

This is by no means an academic list, but here are a few things that I like to keep prominent when considering UX decisions.

  1. There’s always a competitor. No matter how great you feel your product is, there are 20 other things competing for your users’ attention. Treat them with respect and go the extra mile. Win their hearts with honest dialog and transparency. Give them reasons to become a believer.
  2. People talk. Whether good or bad, people share news. Give them something good to talk about. Friends don’t forward press releases to each other, but they do share great new tools, first-rate experiences, and good surprises. If you can make an experience special or personalized to a user, you’re going to have a huge leg up over companies that assume all of their customers are the same.
  3. Rich enough for power users, easy enough my parents can use it. Granted my parents are pretty tech-savy, but that’s not the point. UI matters, and is an important component to UX. Trim the fat, then trim it again. 5-star restaurants don’t worry about the trimmings they throw away, because their goal is to be breath-taking, not the cheapest.
  4. Build for your target market. Don’t be afraid to change the world, but make sure it has context. Think Google Search vs. Google Buzz. Both were technological breakthroughs, but only search served a burning need and played into a context people were comfortable with (“How do I find things on the web?”). Buzz may have been useful to people willing to make the leap, but without filling a compelling need, it was just a blip on the tech world’s radar.

 

I was looking for a 5th point to round it out, but that would be disingenuous. There are plenty of tenants to building a great UX, but these are the ones that I focus on. Hopefully they’re helpful.

 

Finally, I’d like to thank Charlie O’Donnell and the nextNY crew for selecting myself, Alexis Goldstein, James Swetnam, Danielle Banks, Michael Horn, Lindsay Kaplan, Alexander Taub, and Emily Miethner as nextNY Fellows. There will be some pretty interesting stuff coming up related to the program, so stay tuned.