Corey Acri

Think. Strategize. Design. Build.

Using strategy, design, and technology to help build teams, partnerships and products that fix problems.  
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Comprehensive UX: Designing for End-Users, Business Users and Prospective Users

The design of a product affects so many individuals beyond just the end-user. Therefore, a UX designer must account for the experiences of each user in a product’s universe. This applies not only to the customer but the employee/business user interacting with the customer or working behind-the-scenes on the product/project in some way. Ideally, the UX designer strives to ensure a seamless experience for both the business user and the end-user.  The better the experience on both sides, the better outcome for the ultimate beneficiary of the work.  Recently, I have been thinking about this idea of comprehensive UX design in the context of CyclePhilly, a volunteer project I have been working on.

We designed CyclePhilly to solve one problem – getting bike transportation planners the exact data they need to assess cyclist route-choice.  The goal is to make the streets and trails in the Philadelphia region better places to bike. Previously, planners could only rely on traffic count or census data.  Now, after a successful launch, they have a tool to accurately evaluate biking habits layered against demographic information.

The tech behind CyclePhilly involves smartphone app integration with a backend database and frontend web services that interact with the database.  All of those pieces track the biking habits of multiple users simultaneously.  Given this complexity, there are a myriad of user experiences to take into account. To name a few:

  1. The experience of the app end-user
  2. The experience of the transportation planner using the data
  3. The experience of the web end-user
  4. The experience of  the volunteer programmer who may need to make updates to any of various front or backend interfaces. 

Using CyclePhilly as an example, on the user side, a less glitchy app could result  in higher adoption and use rates.  This means more, and likely more reliable, data for planners.  An easy, accessible and user-friendly interface for transportation planners to access the data makes it easier to digest and synthesize and ultimately plan better bike routes.  Therefore, the ultimate “end-user” benefitting from the transportation planners’ efficient and meaningful work actually becomes that future biker, one who may never even use the app, about to hit the streets and use the newly paved roads or newly painted bike routes as he or she embarks on his or her journey.

You can extend this concept even further because there are ripple effects.  More bikers on the road, means less cars, less CO2 emissions and, perhaps, a healthier climate.  It also means more people are moving around and interacting with their city, this can theoretically improve commerce and civic life in general.  These are the layered user experiences that demonstrate the value of comprehensive UX design and why it is appropriate to look beyond the explicit end-user of a product.

In fact, you can further generalize and apply these concepts to all ventures.  If you invest in user experience design at each stage of your business, not just for the customer but for the “employee-user,” i.e. the one on the backend building the product, maintaining a website, analyzing data or interacting with customers, you increase the chance of success for your product.   Therefore, striving for a quality user experience at each touch point in a product’s universe amplifies the product’s impact. That’s the comprehensive UX I am talking about.

While I do not hold CyclePhilly up as an example of stellar UX design, I cite it here as a case study to test this comprehensive UX concept. In CyclePhilly’s case, we have some more work to do and some app updates and improvements coming down the pike should help bring us closer to the aspirations outlined above.  In the meantime, I would argue that having these perspectives, and caring about about what each kind of user has to say, are the most important first steps. 

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