5 UX lessons learned from my work at Vorwerk
Usability and User Experience (UX) – have become crucial aspects of product development in recent years because in times of digitalization, intuitive use is the factor that decides between success or failure of a device. In further developing our Vorwerk products we identified five elementary UX and design challenges. Here come five lessons I learned from my day-to-day work:
It sounds trivial, but a product ought to be as self-explanatory as possible, especially one in which the software and hardware components need to interact perfectly. The user should be able to understand the current status and intention without having to give them a lot of thought. With our VR300 Robot vacuum cleaner, for example, we were faced with the challenge of enabling its intuitive use entirely without a display. The more complex a product, the more difficult it is to achieve that. That’s why a clear, simple navigation system with comprehensible icons and phrases is vital for enabling intuitive operation.
An innovative interface is a wonderful thing, but one the user is familiar with is better. It is possible to give users a sense of familiarity by choosing certain icons, well-known and logical designs or a certain mode of presentation. If we apply these insights consistently to the product or even across several products, the user also learns how to use it. This is what ultimately makes a good interface, since consistency is also a form of simplicity.
Users have learned to work intuitively with particular interfaces. But opting for tried and tested solutions without losing sight of the need to innovate is quite a tightrope walk. It is always important to question the status quo and to avoid becoming blinded by routine – also, or especially, where it’s about the kinds of things that are still seen as delivering the best possible usability – they could already be obsolete the day after tomorrow.
Where consumer products require the smooth interaction of software and hardware, it is particularly important for them to be tested by genuine users as early as possible in the development process. With the Thermomix®, we can make many adjustments to the software and the Cookidoo® recipe world, but modifying the hardware later on can only be done with difficulty or not at all. Only from user tests can we draw the correct conclusions and become aware of questions that would not necessarily have occurred to us. The earlier we speak with users, the greater influence we have on introducing modifications to improve the product.
Last, but not least, the most important principle, which also applies to all of the above: User experience must always be seen as an entity! It is not about whether the user interface looks good. And it’s also not only a question of simplicity and recognizability. Emotional attachment to a product should never be underestimated. The corporate values, our public image, our marketing messages, the mode of selling and even word of mouth between consumers – at the end of the day, all of these influence the user experience for a specific customer. That’s why one of our tasks should be to accompany and help make as smooth as possible the cooperative process between technical development, design and sales force. We devote our daily efforts to achieving this because ultimately, our goal is to improve people’s daily lives in their own homes!
joined Vorwerk International in Switzerland as User Experience Manager in September 2017. Before, he has been in Product Management at Neato Robotics in Silicon Valley, California.