One of the challenges we’ve encountered and attempted to over-come is the perception that User Experience is something that can be added at the end of a project; something that’s done after everything else has been put in motion and is fine as long as it doesn’t interfere with any of the other decisions. The User Experience, as a result, is often unintended and uneven. Like an elaborate sweater, it’s been designed to look great on one side, but full of seams and inconsistencies on the other–and in this case, the customers only encounter the ugly side, since UX wasn’t considered until the end.
The problem is that to customers, the experience is the product. The way a brand is perceived, how loyal a customer is, how likely they are to buy anything else from you is based completely on the experience, since that’s the only aspect that they encounter and care about.
Take for example a restaurant: regardless of how cleanly and efficiently one runs the kitchen, the customers won’t care if the wait staff is forgetful, the tables are dirty and the food arrives cold. Granted, a good restaurant can’t exist without that talented and well-run kitchen, but the customer experience is equally essential.
Adaptive Path has an excellent article that discusses this concept. The whole thing is worth a read, but my favorite quote is:
“To make the experience the product, it must be envisioned, planned, and coordinated. If in a product-based world form followed function, then form should follow flow in a service-centric world. Operations, IT, and other business functions are still just as crucial, it’s just that the frame of reference for planning and coordinating them must be from the customer’s perspective looking in.”