What is User Experience
User experience is a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a product or system, or service. It includes practical, experiential, affective, meaningful, and valuable aspects of interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of system aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency. In the beauty services industry, it is translated into how our consumer values the experience of the customer journey in the salon.
Have you ever thought about how your customers experience the services you provide? How do they feel about visiting you in the first place? What do they look forward to? What kind of feelings do they experience during their journey in the salon? What are the best moments in that journey? When and why do they feel frustration or anxiety? What will they remember the next day? Understanding our clients’ experience is the first step to improving their customer journey in the salon.
“No product or service is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences. Think through all the stages of a product or service – from initial intentions through final reflections, from the first usage to help, service, and maintenance. Make them all work together seamlessly.”
— Don Norman, inventor of the term “User Experience”
Why is it important to offer great User Experience in the salon industry?
From a neuroscience perspective, it has been determined that we remember experiences in our life more vividly and longterm when they are linked to an emotion. So, in a business context, that means that for our clients to remember us better we need to create positive emotions during their visit to our salon. To create positive emotions, we need to break down the stages of the customer journey in the salon and try to design each stage with the goal of offering positive emotions and exceeding expectations in each stage. Flow between all stages from the moment our client thinks about making an appointment until the time she gets back home from a visit is also especially important.
In the salon that practically means that organization is key to offering unique service. To exceed our client’s expectations, we really need to have good organizational structures in place. Imagine your client receiving an email with your summer collection photos for her to be inspired from before she comes to her salon visit. Imagine the team going through the client’s history notes to prepare for the visit as best as possible. Imagine your clients receiving a customer satisfaction short questionnaire after her visit. And of course, imagine everything in between those stages flowing effortlessly and offering memorable experiences and professional expertise.
User Experience Design is a Problem Solving discipline
User experience may be subjective in nature to the degree that it is about individual perception and thought with respect to a product, system, or service. User experience varies dynamically, constantly modifying over time due to changing usage circumstances. In terms of the professional beauty services industry, user experience is about how a user interacts with, and experiences, the service in the salon.
User experience design is a problem-solving discipline. That means that before starting designing the customer journey map so that the experience improves, we must actually have a problem to solve. To have a problem to solve we need to research first.
Have you noticed some clients looking anxious about the colour dye on their head? Or others who don’t exactly know where to go? Or some who can’t really understand what you are trying to propose?
One branch in user experience research focuses on emotions. This includes momentary experiences during interaction: designing effective interaction and evaluating emotions. Another branch is interested in understanding the long-term relationship between user experience and product or service appreciation. The industry sees good overall user experience with a company’s products as critical for securing brand loyalty and enhancing the growth of the customer base. All temporal levels of user experience (momentary, episodic, and long-term) are important, but the methods to design and evaluate these levels can be vastly different.
Fundamentally user experience design is a problem-solving discipline focused on building products and services that will solve problems for end-user. The term ‘experience’ refers to the emotions of end-users. What differentiates great products and services is that they will create positive emotions for the end-users while they are solving their problems. User experience is a research-based discipline and design teams should always make decisions based on research carried out with end-users. Research is everything. If you are not doing research, you’re not doing user experience design.
User Experience Designers consider the Why, What and How of product and service use
As a UX designer, you should consider the Why, What and How of product or service use. The Why involves the users’ motivations for adopting a product, or for being loyal to a service whether they relate to a task they wish to perform with or to values and views which users associate with the ownership and use of it. The What addresses the things people can do with a product or service—its functionality, or usefulness. Finally, the How relates to the design of functionality in an accessible and aesthetically pleasant way. User experience designers start with the Why before determining the What and then, finally, the How to create products and services that users can form meaningful experiences with. The aim is to offer a fluid experience that flows nicely from beginning to end.
So, for example in a hair salon, the Why could be the proximity of the salon, or the price/quality ratio, or advertising, or just having been satisfied in a previous experience. The What addresses the services the salon has to offer and the How relates to the actual experience. It’s the experience we want to divide into stages and improve with user experience design, but in order to do so, we need to first understand why our clients are coming to our salon and preferring our services.
User Experience Desing in User-centred
Since user experience design encompasses the entire user journey, it is a multidisciplinary field – user experience designers come from a variety of backgrounds such as visual design, programming, psychology, and interaction design. To design for human users also means you must work with a heightened scope regarding accessibility and accommodating many potential users’ physical limitations. A user experience designer’s typical tasks vary, but often include user research, creating personas, designing wireframes and interactive prototypes as well as testing designs. These tasks can vary greatly from one organization to the next, but they always demand designers to be the users’ advocate and keep the users’ needs at the centre of all design and development efforts. That’s also why most UX designers work in some form of the user-centered work process and keep channelling their best-informed efforts until they address all of the relevant issues and user needs optimally.
The key concept is to understand that we are NOT the client. It does not matter what we think our client needs, experiences, or feels. Only by researching customer satisfaction and needs can we accurately understand our client’s mindset and improve on offering more value to our services.
Research is key in User Experience Design
Research is the main key ingredient underpinning user experience design. Research is fundamental to understand the problems we are attempting to solve for users. There are many variations and techniques of research design such as qualitative versus quantitative, attitudinal versus behavioural. Nothing changes mindsets, deepens understanding and can make or break products or services like usability testing. Proper research requires setting clear usability test objectives, recruiting users, preparing test scripts, and facilitating and recording usability test sessions. Setting clear objectives for customer and stakeholder interviews, preparing scripts, and conducting and recording interviews. Talking and listening to users is also an essential part of the user experience designer’s job. Conducting card sorting exercises, online surveys, heuristic evaluations as well as understanding the concept of A/B testing and how it helps optimize and refine existing customer journeys.
By using research techniques (usability testing, online surveys, interviews, analytics), we can acquire a large amount of raw data – both quantitative and qualitative. The goal of the research is to identify the problems we should be solving for users. It is only through analyzing this data that we can clearly articulate the problems that we are attempting to solve for the end-user. We will have to look at several frameworks and techniques that will help us make sense of the research data and articulate the problems to be solved. One of these is triangulation, which is using multiple data sources to provide a more accurate understanding of the problem to be solved. Creating an affinity diagram, customer journey map, personas and customer value curve also helps to understand the benefits of the outputs and to capture user goals. We will prepare a customer journey map and understand its importance in capturing user goals.
In research detail is key. Collecting as much information about the clients’ experience from the point she even thinks about booking with one of our services to the point she leaves our salon is essential in order to improve each stage of the customer journey in detail.
User Experience and Interaction Design
Interaction design is where the rubber begins to hit the road. This is where we get to define what happens when people use our product, service, or software. How does the service make them feel? Are there any pain points? How do they behave when experiencing the service? What kind of feedback do they need during the service? How does it respond when a problem occurs?
In user experience design there are some design principles that must be followed. Design principles are high-level guidelines which, if followed, can help us create high-quality service experience. It is important to have a thorough understanding of these principles and use them as reference points in our designs. If adhered to, they will increase the probability that the customer journey design will be successful.
Design principles are proven solutions to common problems across many different design principles including advertising, architecture, and software design. Perceivability and predictability help to make the purpose and function of a product or service clear. Affordances can help communicate how a product or service works. Adhering to conventions in design can increase usability – that the principles of constraints, feedback and forgiveness allow users to flow through the customer journey more effectively. This reduces effort and errors.
One basic rule I need to emphasize upon again is that “We are not the user”!! As soon as we understand and accept that, we are ready to research and deep dive into the real reasons why our clients visit us, the actual needs and emotions they have at each stage of their journey in the salon and the pain points we need to solve. Good luck!