Beating the House with a Full UX Hand

For many, the thrill in gambling lies in the risk; the idea of winning, and often, losing money elicits an adrenaline rush that keeps people coming back for more, even if they do dislike the side of losing. However, for most gamblers, the enjoyment stems from winning alone, and it is this group that will attempt any way of mitigating the risk, within legal grounds of course. The early 2000s card counting scandal, brought to life by a group of whip smart MIT students, spurred on a debate of the ethics behind counting cards. While frowned upon, counting cards is a perfectly legal activity – for those who can manage to do it. And if you can manage to do it, why wouldn’t you?

Counting cards, or finding a way to strategically beat the table at its own game, is comparable to some of the User Experience strategies and philosophies deployed by product creators. User Experience, or UX, is the practice of systematically investigating and implementing procedures to gather behavioral data that serves as the driving force behind the creative design and development of the product. Through testing and research, product creators are forced to step outside of their own ideas and allow the research to dictate the end result. In no way is UX cheating the product design and development process, but without it, you are in fact gambling.

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The success of a site or application rests solely on the majority of the user recorded data, opinion, reaction and attachment, all of which can be predetermined from thorough UX testing strategies. Despite the vast spectrum of design practices and beliefs, product developers should rely on UX as the foundation of their product, as UX boils down to understanding users to provide the ultimate solution. Included below are some UX strategies to be fulfilled independently or in tandem, for maximizing audience insight and fulfilling UX-centric product solutions:

Field studies- The findings from conducting a field study can serve as the foundation for your overall UX strategy development. A field study is a general method for collecting data about users, user needs and product specifications. Through direct, and hopefully unobtrusive, observation, UX researchers can gain unaltered insight into user behaviors and task distinctions.

Contextual Inquiries- Contextual inquiries offer researchers the opportunity to observe users fulfilling tasks followed by a discussion of what the user does and why. Defined by four principles: Context, Partnership, Interpretation and Focus, the researcher engages with the test subject in a comprehensive deep dive into the what, why and how behind specific tasks.

Tracking- As an increasing amount of product engagement now occurs between a user and a screen, it is imperative to develop insight into how users interact with content and calls to action on web pages. Researchers can begin to understand this facet of engagement through tracking with a software technology that collects a web user’s mouse cursor positions and clicks on the screen. Additionally, eye tracking devices can also be implemented to extract insight into the way in which users’ eyes scan a web page and linger on specific content.

Split (A/B) Testing- Split testing allows researchers to discover product variations to increase user interest or conversion through testing multiple variants of a page, feature, banner, etc. among users. Different users are provided with the different variations, ultimately helping researchers eliminate one product element issue at a time. The subtle resolutions of split testing often greatly enhance the overall experience of the product.

All product creators share the same innate goal: to produce a product that resonates with customers and, most importantly, sells. Implementing UX research and testing is playing to win; it’s assuring that the best possible version of a product is released to fulfill the majority of users. Bypassing strategic UX research and testing is ignoring the human element of the product development process, and that is actually the biggest gamble of all.

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