The Anatomy of Rich User Experience

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Now that software is an integral part of our lives, user experience is everything because “when technology becomes a commodity by satisfying basic needs, user experience dominates”.

Text of The Anatomy of Rich User Experience

  • The Anatomy of Rich User Experience White Paper 01-04-2010 Dr. David Saad - Chairman & CEO
  • Table of Content 1. Summary 3 2. Needs for Rich User Experience 4 3. Definitions of Rich User Experience .. 5 4. Properties of Rich User Experience .. 7 5. Disciplines of Rich User Experience . 8 6. Applications of Rich User Experience .. 10 7. Benefits of Rich User Experience .. 11 8. Conclusion . 14 9. Biographies 15 10. References . 17 2
  • 1. Summary Now that software is an integral part of our lives, user experience is everything because when technology becomes a commodity by satisfying basic needs, user experience dominates. Making software useful or even usable are necessary conditions but not sufficient enough to succeed. Making software desirable is a pedestal to aim for. Desktop applications, from personal to enterprise ones, are rusting. The web proved Peters Principle it started as a communication platform, morphed into a publishing platform, and then promoted itself to an application platform, which is its current level of incompetency. Mobile devices are fairing better but they are lacking some luster, especially in the US market which is lagging behind the rest of the world. Games on the other hand have demonstrated their willingness to push the envelope. With Rich User Experience (RUE), the best of all four worlds (desktop, web, mobiles, and games) is converging to provide some truly impressive features some unique for each platform while others common across platforms. RUE goes beyond the conventional point & click interfaces, beyond the aesthetics of the fancy Flash applications of the yesteryears, and beyond the interactivity and portability of Rich Internet Applications (RIA). RUE combines function & form, substance & style, and art & science. RUE applications are incredible, extraordinary, and sophisticated applications. They are solid on the back-end and shine on the front-end. RUE applications are useful, functional, usable, desirable, perusable, searchable, accessible, dependable, comfortable, trustable, credible, and valuable. However, RUE is quite complex. Following industrial designs footsteps, experience design will soon become a formal discipline - actually, a multi-disciplinary field that combines computer science, software engineering, information architecture, flow architecture, cognitive behavior, and art. Thus, leaving RUE in novice hands, or worse to Beaver, is done with peril. Even though RUE has already recorded some impressive successes in certain niches such as configurators, dashboards, business analytics, diagnostic systems, reservation systems, weather systems, and the likes, it has not yet entered the mainstream. So far, the obstacles have been its complexity, availability of experts, lack of standards, and difficulty in measuring success. Those stumbling blocks will soon be surmounted to pave the way for RUE to not just enter the mainstream but become a commodity itself. In the meantime, there is indeed some catching up to do, and companies ought to embrace RUE sooner rather than later. 3
  • 2. Needs for Rich User Experience Before the iPhone was introduced, almost all mobile phones offered more or less the same functionality and utility. Aside Apples marketing prowess that ignited a huge demand, what distinguished the iPhone from the pack was its rich user experience. Similarly, in order to be competitive, applications, of all kinds, must nowadays go beyond their mere functionality, utility, usability, and efficiency. They must become brandable and desirable. Starting with trust, desire turns into loyalty, which can quickly morph into advocacy which is a key indicator of long term customer value and retention. For the longest time, the usability world was divided into two extremist camps those who think with their left brain (developers from Mars) who produce efficient but unusable and ugly applications, and those who think with their right brain (designers from Venus) who thought that the web was created to showcase their artwork. Currently, users are demanding new computing paradigms and expecting that their applications mimic their world by adapting to their needs instead of them tolerating the idiosyncrasies of an application. The World Wide Web started as a communication platform, morphed into a publishing platform, and evolved to become an application platform. The reasons for the success of the browser are obvious: standard interface, global access from anywhere, easy deployment, easy maintenance, easy to use, and no training required. The biggest disadvantage of the browser is the limitations of HTML and its inability to offer the richness of desktop applications. Desktops, mobile phones, and the web (not to mention games for some) have become an integral part of our lives. The value of all such devices is mainly in their software. Because of such ubiquity, we are entering an era where software is no longer geeky but trendy. Software is no longer restricted to improving corporate productivity, but is entrenched in consumer social behavior - from informing to entertaining, and from socializing to dating, software touches almost every aspect of our lives. Software defines personas, positions brands, creates communities, democratizes markets, etc. In addition, there is a need for standardization and portability of applications across all platforms from desktops, to the web, to hand-held devices, to embedded systems, and even to games. There is a need for software applications, of any kind and on any platform, to incorporate best-practices and best-of-all-worlds, specifically: Functionality, navigation, customization, and responsiveness found in desktop applications; Security, scalability, reliability, and fault tolerance found in enterprise mission critical applications; Connectivity, collaboration, and personalization found in web applications; Interactivity found in Rich Internet Applications (RIA); Beauty, elegance, and WOW factor found in Flash applications; Efficiency found in embedded applications; Simplicity, locality, and convenience found in mobile applications; and Engagement and entertainment found in games. Meeting such high standards will not be easy, especially with the lack of standards and skills necessary, but it is indeed a goal that we should aim for, and it is surely very exciting. Finally, inventions and innovations dont stem out of market surveys. When it comes down to needs, classic marketing principles taught us how to establish needs: ask what the market needs, then provide it. Such conventional wisdom is applicable to defining existing needs in well-established markets but not creating new needs in emerging markets in which buyers dont know what they need. For example, if few decades ago a market researcher would have asked consumers if they need a personal computer, 99.99% of the respondents would have said no. When Henry Ford built his first car, he was quoted as saying If Id asked my customers what they wanted, theyd have said a faster horse. Users dont necessarily know what they need or want relative to their experience with software. It is up to the players in the industry to create the need through their inventions or innovations, and then refine their solution based on specific usability testing. 4
  • 3. Definitions of Rich User Experience The term User Experience was originally coned by Donald A. Norman who introduced it to Apple back in 1993. He eloquently said then: when technology satisfies basic needs, user experience dominates. Sure enough, we are now entering a phase where the unique value proposition and the main distinguishing factor between competing products are indeed their respective user experience. User experience is everything because users and customers are still kings, and will forever remain so. Users rule the experience, advertisers pay for it, and competitors fear it. After all the marketing, promoting, packaging, and spinning, what sticks in users mind is indeed their experience with your product, application, website, or game. Their experience determines their selection, their purchase, their loyalty, their referral, and their enthusiasm to your brand (or lack thereof). User experience is very encompassing its wings spans over anything and everything that a user or a customer touches from the packaging to shipping, from functions to features, from sales to support, and anything in between. For the purpose of this white paper, our definition of user experience is limited to software and not any other product or service. Furthermore, our coverage of user experience is strictly limited to issues related to the actual software and ignores peripheral issues such as packaging, sales, branding, customer support, etc. Rich User Experience (RUE) invokes the wow! factor. It ignites emotions in users by first impressing them and then making them addicted, loyal, and contagious. RUE goes beyond the conventional point & click interface by incorporating a gesture interface and speech recognition making the user experience truly immersive. RUE goes beyond the aesthetics of the fancy Flash applications of the yesteryears which offered pretty screens, captiv