User experience (UX) has become more and more important, as successful products need to provide opportunities for enjoyment and user engagement in addition to good usability. UX includes anticipation of usage, usage itself and reflection on the use. The authors created a conceptual framework, UXellence, where positive UX is triggered by fulfilling ten basic human needs: Security, Keeping the Meaningful, Self-Expression, Relatedness, Popularity, Competition, Physical Health, Competence, Influence and Stimulation.
The authors present UX Concept Exploration as a method combining UX measurement, conceptualization of new features by addressing the UXellence framework and involving users systematically in concept and design phases.
UX Concept Exploration commences with the four steps of UX Concept Testing, which is a previously used method. The first step is Concept Briefing. In the second step, Field Experience, the users document situations in their everyday life where they would imagine using the product. At this point, the users can also suggest new features to the product. The third step consists of User Interviews. At the fourth step, Data analysis, the user-generated ideas are categorized by related needs. After these four steps, the UX Concept Exploration method suggests a fifth step to objectively rate the real value of the user-generated ideas: In Expert Evaluation a group of UX experts assess the user-generated ideas and estimate their contribution to a positive user experience. As a result, a unique product is assembled based on the most promising ideas.
The authors conducted an empirical study with 19 participants to validate the effectiveness of the UX Concept Exploration. In general the method worked well. According to the participants, the enhanced concepts fulfilled the basic needs of the UXellence framework better than the original concepts. Furthermore, the experts were able to select valuable features enhancing the UX. The authors concluded that the strength of the UX Concept Exploration lies in exploring both the positive experiences within the concept as well as additional ideas provided by the users. Thus, the method supports the integration of both technology-driven and user-driven innovation approaches.
I was listening to the presentation of this study at the NordiCHI 2014. In the presentation the researchers emphasized that the role of experts as mainly to assess the ideas, not measure them, as measuring UX would require a user study. They suggested in the presentation that this method could work as user input for companies who don’t have trained designers. The authors commented further that the users liked products built on their own needs, because they felt that they were created especially for them. This article explained the whole method more thoroughly than a conference presentation could have, and gave a good overview of both the method and the validation process.
I found the method interesting, but a bit time-consuming, as it requires a whole group of experts working on one concept. In my opinion this method follows traditional HCI thinking and incremental design. It will not create something unique out of a mundane design. However, if the original concept is unique and innovative, this method could provide the incremental improvements necessary for the concept to succeed.