Designing for Human Experiences

Co-written by: Nadia Khayat and Ryana Burrell

In April we had the opportunity to represent ByteCubed at the PSFK conference: Ideas That Transform. Featuring some of the world’s most creative thinkers, the conference created an environment where “disparate ideas can come together in new ways to fuel work that changes the world for the better.” As UX designers, we were drawn to this conference for the breadth of subjects that would be covered – from the psychology of advertising to the latest trends in social robotics, and were excited to learn more about today’s surfacing trends shaping tomorrow’s creative business.

Here are our 3 key takeaways from the PSFK conference:

1. Challenge your preconceived ideas – the ultimate design challenge.

As many know, Uber is everywhere and has totally transformed the transportation industry. The company currently operates in over 400 cities across 70 countries, serves over 1 million drivers, and has more than 6,000 employees. But Uber in your city might not be the same as Uber somewhere else. Different locations have different infrastructures, layouts, regulations and people, resulting in different approaches by the company. While Uber’s mission is to “make transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere, for everyone.”

“Across engineering,” says Pedram Keyani, Director of Growth on Engineering at Uber, “the mandate is to build out a system that can serve the entire world.”

Ethan Eismann, Director of Product Experience at Uber, said during the conference that the company faces some serious design challenges. Since city infrastructures vary greatly across the globe, Uber designs around those differences. For example, roads in India are made up mostly of dirt and mud, are heavily congested with people and animals, and often don’t have any street signs. So without being able to utilize GPS-capabilities (see images below), drivers in India are to locate their passengers by receiving photos of their current location. With the current technical infrastructure, Uber faces a challenge: since most users can’t have a big data payload, Uber is used through SMS and not through an app.

india_2g india_4g

2G/SMS vs. 4G Cellular Coverage in India

Thanks to some brainstorming and ground testing, Uber was able to address some unique design challenges. As a result, the company is now thriving in India where most riders pay cash.

Take away: How often does one apply some self-analysis about the way he/she runs his/her business? Do you know what your customers really need? Drop your assumptions and do the necessary research. What you believed could never work, might well propel your business. A formula for success in your country might not have the same results in another.

2. Bring the human connection back. 

Pirch, a large appliance retail store, reinvented the way people shop for fixtures and created a delightful and engaging experience by allowing customers to play and interact with everyday home appliances, such as toilets, showers, and stoves. “The appliance industry is plagued with indifference, dissatisfaction and lack of human satisfaction,”  Pirch CMO Laith Murad said. Instead of following the typical industry model of aisles of non-working, display models, Pirch introduced an experiential element into its shoppers’ buying process: items are displayed as they would be in a home so that consumers could interact with them. This strategy gets consumers to think about these items in a different light – one that is centered around human connection and emotion.

Take away: Companies have the responsibility to keep people engaged. Leverage technology, design, and culture to provide the best product for your end user and the best experience. How? Some ways include: thinking through how a customer interacts with a brand and how to improve their experience, performing user experience (UX) research, and conducting usability testing.

3. Make data personal and small again.

“Big data” has become a buzzword that has driven many advancements in our approach to the relationship between technology and real-world outcomes. Every week for one year, Giorgia Lupi (who lives in NYC) and Stefanie Posavec (who lives in the UK) collected data around a specific personal topic each week and analyzed the information to create hand-drawn correspondence for each other to demonstrate how data-rich our lives are.


(Example postcards from www.dear-data.com)

“It’s often difficult to get people to understand big data if they don’t fully understand what data is in the first place,” Giorgia Lupi says.

As we navigate a world in which massive data sets drive our understanding of relationships between actions and ideas, taking some time to focus on the nuances of “small data” can help us think more critically about how data really affects our lives. Ultimately, everything we do can be translated to data points, and therefore can be analyzed and monetized. Breaking through the hype of big data helps us truly understand ourselves in relation to the data we generate.

Take away: Bring data down to a personal level and create a new language through visualizations. Now that the use of data is inevitable and there are infinite ways to collect and visualize data for anyone, it is important to think about what all these numbers actually mean and use them to tell their own personal stories.

The ByteCubed Perspective

In this era of digitalization, it is becoming increasingly important to create unforgettable experiences to stand apart. At ByteCubed, we give our clients the opportunity to connect directly with their users by cultivating both a great digital and physical experience. Being inspired to examine how technology intersects with, and, in many cases, informs the human experience, we understand the importance of having both human and emotional connections in design. By designing with humans in mind, we create a more engaging experience that allows users to connect physically and emotionally.

We are always designing experiences and technologies for humans, and we engage in psychological and real-world analysis as we introduce new ideas. ByteCubed’s employees always thrive to create more human-centric experiences by connecting customers to what matters most to them, all by challenging the status quo.

*Cover image source: http://www.psfk.com/event/psfk-2016-conference

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