September 21, 2012
While some businesses hire new talent to pursue graphical user interface design and development innovations, others look to their customers for inspiration.
According to Steve Baty, a contributor at Co.Design, the next evolution of GUI design may not come internally, but from looking at the way consumers work around the aspects of current apps, software and websites that they don't like. The consumer helps businesses identify popular and unpopular aspects of apps, and it is this data that needs to be extrapolated into new UI features.
"Not to say that creating a disruptive product is easy," Baty wrote. "Even most innovative companies struggle to identify disruptive innovations more than once or twice. But if you want to completely shake up an industry, the best approach is to develop a deep insight into some group of people - customers or non-customers, buyers or influencers."
Baty stated that the best way to accomplish this is to establish three steps toward analyzing user cases and implementing these changes in the design process.
1. Analyze how users work around unpopular features
To achieve innovation in website and application design, a business needs to first establish what its users don't like about its product, and then see what they are doing to work around it. By establishing this baseline, the company can not only eliminate unpopular design features, but exchange them for ones that it knows to be more successful. According to Baty, this process was utilized by Nike, which set out to improve its shoes and ended up developing Nike+, its motivation ecosystem that includes numerous products, including mobile apps.
2. Address barriers and bypass them
Next, the business has to identify its barriers for innovation. What is holding back the UI, and how can it be overcome? For some products this means establishing what is holding back the market in general, while for others it means looking more deeply into the design process. According to Spend Matters, one problem some companies are having is bridging the gap between the actual user experience and design.
Looking to the user experience should be a primary focus for any interface design, yet many companies avoid it. In order to create a successful product, a business has to understand what its consumers want. Only going part of the way may generate sales, but it doesn't maximize the potential success of the product.
3. Avoid tension
Baty finishes by establishing that eliminating tension between users and products should be a key component of design. Consumers need to be able to understand how to use a product, be it an app, website or device, and the UI shouldn't impede this. However, instead of simplifying products, this may mean making the UI work for the user, rather than the product. One example of this is having an interface that teaches as it is used, much like the tutorials used on most smartphones today.
Ultimately, establishing a connection between the user and the product requires a strong user experience, and in order to achieve this, a high-quality UI is needed. By focusing on the demands of users, and the tricks they use to avoid problem areas, a business can ensure success with its future UI innovations and potentially open new ideas as well.