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Critical Elements of User Experience Design

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Information Technology
Wordcount: 5354 words Published: 20th Sep 2017

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  • Prof. Michael Weyrich,
  • Tobias Jung,
  • Zeller
  • Christian Zange
  • Hossain

Mohammad Faysal Ebna Hossain

Critical Elements of User Experience Design as a Success Factor for Virtual Working Spaces in the Digital Enterprise


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1.1 Introduction

An Enterprise Network is the backbone of communications within an enterprise or organization that that enables the employees and stakeholders communicate with each other in an efficient and effective manner. A digital enterprise workplace is where technology, processes, people, and the Enterprise organization converge to enhance agility, engagement, and productivity. It is a virtual platform where employees and stakeholders can get the technology tools they require to do their tasks effortlessly. [UBMC15] .Here we are talking about the underlying professional and personal network. It enhances internal and external enterprise communication superintendence.

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The interactive characteristics on the Internet, Wiki and blogosphere have become essential nowadays. With two-thirds of the world’s Internet population are visiting a social networking or blogging site, and the amount of time spent on these platforms are increasing at more than three times the rate of overall Internet growth [UNiel09]. The Enterprise network has also been changing over past years. Social technologies have been added to the Enterprise network to increase productivity to and communication. Social technologies have apprehended the thought of consumers, business leaders, and political leaders. Millions of people have adopted new practices: conveying social interactions online, developing connections, and building and sharing content.

Social technologies can be described as digital technologies utilized by people to communicate socially and collectively to build, improve, and exchange contents. Social technologies possess three major characteristics:

Figure 1: Characteristics of Social Technologies [McK12]

People can communicate socially (e.g., chat, share personal news, send greetings), social technologies enable anybody inside a community or organization to create, add, or modify content and communications. This involves combining or deleting content such as a document or a link, contributing to content supplemented by others, endorsing (e.g., “liking” a piece of content), or executing an action that an individual knows will be shared.

The way of knowledge sharing and communication has been dramatically changed or improved as a side effect of using social technologies. Social technologies can perform a central role in how information is gathered, sourced, analyzed, and disseminated among interested person.

1.2 Applications incorporating Social Technologies and digital workplace  

Social technologies incorporate a wide range of applications for both Customers and Enterprises. The figure below has been taken from the report published by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) that includes applications used for social technologies:

Figure 2: Wide range of applications for social technologies [McK12]

Social network: A Social structure comprised of a collection of social actors (for example organizations or individuals), a collection of dyadic ties, and other social interactions among social actors are known as the Social Network. This perspective provides an assemblage of methods for analyzing the structure of all social entities. [Was94]

Blogs/Microblogs: A blog is a conversation or informational web platform published on the World Wide Web comprising of discrete and usually informal diary-style text entries (called posts). Posts are usually arranged in reverse sequential order, so that the very recent post appears first, at the top of the web page. [UBlog17]. Microblogging is a service that facilitates its users to send and announce small notes, normally just text and typically react to queries. The blog is generally a personal reflection.

Rating and reviews: Rating and review provide a way that enables users or readers to rank the content socially. It also allows users to reveal their feelings about the content (usually through emoticons).

Social commerce: Social commerce is basically a subset of electronic commerce. It involves online & social  media that promotes social interaction, and user participation to support online purchasing and selling of goods and services.[USoCo13]

Wiki: A wiki is a web-based platform that implements collaborative modification of its content and composition right away from the web browser. In a conventional wiki, the words are written using a simplified markup language (known as “wiki markup”) and usually edited with the aid of a rich-text editor. [EnBr08]. The wiki the jointly edited content where approved users can jointly edit and publish the content.

Discussion Forum: An Internet forum is an online discussion platform where users can hold discussions in the form of posted messages. The posted messages are usually longer than one line of text and are often archived. Additionally, the forum set-up in such a way that a posted message may need to be validated by a moderator before it becomes published. [UWiFo08]. The core idea of the Forum is the exchange of ideas or topics.

Shared workspaces: The shared workspace is an interrelated ecosystem in which all users in separated areas can reach and interact with each other. The ecosystem maintained by electronic communications which facilitate users to overcome location and time differentials. The environment is facilitated by a shared rational paradigm, general information, and a common perception by all of the members despite physical position.

Crowdsourcing: Crowdsourcing is a specific sourcing model in which individuals or organizations use contributions from Internet users to obtain needed services or ideas. Crowdsourcing was coined in 2005 as a portmanteau of crowd and outsourcing. [Mat11]

Social gaming: A social network game is a type of online game that is played through social networks.[Jarv09] They typically feature multiplayer and asynchronous gameplay mechanics. Social network games are most often implemented as browser games, but can also be implemented on other platforms such as mobile devices.[Kim11]

Media and file sharing: Media and files sharing among the members have a significant impact on knowledge and information sharing. It provides flexibility and alternative means to work collaboratively with the members.

2.1 Introduction

User experience design is the method of improving user satisfaction with a product by enhancing the usability, accessibility, and pleasure rendered in the interaction with the product. This section begins with regular usability evaluation and why it has become progressively critical to focus on the user experience (UX).

2.2 What is Usability

Usability is a quality attribute that determines how usable is a system or product by its user. The term “Usability” also points to methods for enhancing ease-of-use throughout the design or development process.

Nielsen Norman group mentioned five quality components that defines the term Usability: [UNiel12]

  • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  • Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  • Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
  • Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
  • Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?

In brief, Usability determines how easy & pleasant a product/system to use.

2.3 Importance of Usability

It is very much crucial to make a system where users should not have to think too hard while they are using the system. The user should not have to refer to help sections, and they should not be constrained to feel stupid. By observing the user, finding the usability issues and resolving them in an appropriate manner these situations can be avoided.

System developers usually forget that they are not typical users. There may be aspects of the system that seem apparent to the developer that might, in fact, be entirely confusing to the users. It is therefore essential to take a step back once in a while and make sure that the users are not left behind. Usability Testing is an indispensable aspect of the User-Centred method that establishes the user, at the heart of the development process rather than the system. Embracing such an approach pushes that the user should be foremost in the design determinations.

According to the International Standards Organization (ISO 9241-11: Guidance on Usability)

“Usability is the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.”

These three factors are very much important to attain business goals.

An effective website

An efficient website

A satisfied user

allows customers (users) to achieve their goals

provides answers quickly

achieves their goal

has a high conversion rate

follows a logical sequence

enjoys their experience

meets business objectives

doesn’t waste resources

tells others

delivers a positive brand image

requires less content management time

comes back again

Table 1: Why Usability parameters are important [URed11]

Usability testing lets the design and development teams recognize problems before roll out of the system. The earlier flows are identified and fixed; the less costly the fixes will be concerning both resource time and possible influence to the schedule.  During a usability test:

  • Investigate the activities of the participants to see whether it meets usability objectives
  • Identify how satisfied users are with the system or product
  • Discover if users can accomplish specified tasks as intended
  • Experience how long it takes to accomplish specified tasks
  • Determine adjustments needed to enhance user performance and satisfaction

2.4 Usability Evaluation

Conventionally evaluating the usability of a product does not come into play until the system development is completed or nearly completed. Once completed, users would be requested to accomplish certain tasks on the system. Their performance would then be measured, often using the five usability attributes of Nielsen: Learnability, Efficiency, Memorability, Errors and Satisfaction.[UNiel12] This way of usability testing does not include users until very late in the project and concentrates on the system rather than how the user experiences the System.

“Racing toward launch without looking back might have seemed like a good idea back when the launch date was set, but the result is likely to be a product that meets all the technical requirements for the project but does not work for your users. Even worse, by tackling user experience evaluation on at the end, you might end up launching a product that you know is broken but have no opportunity (or money left) to fix.” [Garret10]

This means of usability evaluation is often named ‘user acceptance’ testing. The term accepting is important here, symbolizing that the focus lies on whether the user accepts the system, rather than whether he/she can use the system as intended

2.5 User Experience Focus

Technological improvements in ubiquitous computing have created an opportunity for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) to be a massive part of our day-to-day life. This has effected a shift from traditional usability engineering to so-called User Experience, where the emotions and motivations of the end-user are provided a principal role than traditional usability metrics such as efficiency and effectiveness.

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There have been studies about defining User Experience amongst UX professionals that have demonstrated inconclusive [Law09] and these are within the field of Human-Computer Interaction. One could dispute that the principles following UX could be applied to any production process. The nearest we can get to a definition is addressed in the ISO 9241-210 standard on the Ergonomics of Human System Interaction – Part 210: Human-Centred Design for interactive systems (ISO, 2008):

“A person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service”

Above statement highlights the experience the user has while using or anticipates using a particular product. The notion of ‘anticipated use’ grants the idea that UX can play a crucial role in the early development stages of system development mentioning that thinking UX before an actual working system is ready can produce invaluable input.

User experience specialists strive to make the system User-Centered. It indicates that while the development of the system the user is constantly the principal focus point and drives the evolution process. According to the ISO standard, six postulates assure the product is User-Centered:[UUCD17]

1. The design is based upon an explicit understanding of users, tasks and environments.

2. Users are involved throughout design and development.

3. The design is driven and refined by user-centered evaluation.

4. The process is iterative.

5. The design addresses the whole user experience.

6. The design team includes multidisciplinary skills and perspectives.

Second Principle (‘Users are involved throughout design and development’) entails that UX teams should include users in all design stages: not just by operating a focus group at the beginning of design or by administering a survey at the end of the project.

3.1 Introduction

Usability testing involves watching representative users working with the system so that development team can make improvements based on what participants do with the system. Usability testing provides invaluable feedback about how the users behave with the system. Knowing how users behave helps to create a much more suitable Platform or application. Rather than just guessing about what people might like on these, it is possible to see their reactions first hand, and then make sure that the system contains just the right features.

Learning about issues early in the process saves development time and money. Rather than spending time developing the wrong thing, a quick usability test will tell the developer whether they are on the right track or not.

Getting the data directly from the users is a much better way of doing design work than arguing about features among the team. In fact, usability testing is a great way of stopping arguments. Rather than spending time on fighting over whose idea is best, put the concepts in front of real users to see how well they can work with them. There is nothing quite like real user feedback that helps to determine the best way forward.

The thing that separates usability testing from many other methods is that with usability testing, it is possible to see real behaviors, what people do rather than just asking what people think. Often watching people do something is the only way to really understand where the issues lie and how to fix the problems you see.

Ease of use doesn’t originate from wishful thinking. It comes from conveying methodical usability engineering activities throughout the project lifecycle. This is a real effort and sacrifices real money, though not as much as some people worry.

It is possible to conduct simple forms of user testing in a few days and obtain vast insights into both user behavior and recommended design enhancements.

3.2 Usability Costs

To estimate the total cost of usability (as opposed to the price of a single test), Nielsen Norman Group collected data from 863 design projects that incorporated Usability Testing. Depending on how they have calculated it, usability costs were within 8% and 13% of the projects’ budget. Based on these findings from other surveys, they have concluded that current best practices call for dedicating about 10% of a project’s budget to usability. [UNiel03]

In reality, the cost of usability doesn’t extend linearly with project size, since many usability testing cost about the same, notwithstanding of how big the project is. A project that’s ten times larger, for example, usually requires only four times more usability spending.

3.3 Reduce Development Cost

Accurate planning at the start of a System’s design process will save time, money and effort in the long run.

A study by Smith & Reinersten found that the critical system-design decisions made during the first 10% of a product’s design process can determine 90% of the product’s cost and performance. This is an outstanding illustration of how a little investment at an initial stage can have a tremendous positive impact on the final product. [UWilson14]

The more money will organization invest in usability at an initial design stage the greater will have the end product. A tiny amount of cash spent on usability design and testing will save the organization from costly design fixes or redesigns later in the cycle.

3.4 Reduced Support Costs

An enormous gain of financing in usability is diminished support costs. Just put, a System with better usability will reduce potential customer support concerns and eventually reduce customer support costs. An excellent way to enhance the website’s usability, while decreasing support costs is by giving online guidance to the users.

Another illustration of how financing in usability at the early stage of the design process will save the money at a later stage. A study by Pressman found that 80% of costs during a software’s lifecycle come from the maintenance phase. The study also found that greatest part of these costs rises out of “unmet or unforeseen” user requirements. [UWilson14]

Figure 3: Reduced call and support costs minimizes maintenance cost

Spending in usability helps to resolve these issues during the design stage, where they can be dispensed with at a much lower price. All redundant second that the support staff uses responding to a customer support issue (time when paying for their wages) is the cost of poor usability investment.

3.5 Increased Sales

It’s not a big leap in logic to claim that improved usability for customers will make them more likely to execute a purchase or to extend their purchase volume.

A study by Creative Good discovered that giving a better experience for the customers will prolong the quantity of purchasers by 40%. [UWilson14]

Another study by UI Engineering observed that by giving “sufficient product information to your customers at the right time you can increase sales on your site by up to 225%”. [UWilson14]

Improved usability makes for satisfied clients who are more likely to purchase, eventually expanding the business’s profits.

3.6 Usability Benefits

The Nielsen Norman Group have analyzed data from 42 cases where usability metrics were available for website redesigns. Averaged across the 42 pairs of measures they had found, usability increased by 135% when they omitted five outliers with especially significant usability improvements. (If they include these outliers, the average improvement jumps to 202%.) [UNiel03]

The improvement in usability metrics differed depending on the metric, as the following table shows:

Table 2: The improvement in usability metrics differed depending on the metric [UNiel03]

The current study of Nielsen Norman Group does not incorporate intranet redesign projects. However, based on their studies of intranet design potential, Jakob Nielsen consider that the average improvement in intranet usability metrics is a bit below 100%. [UNiel03]

3.6.1 Co-Creation

Certainly, the very common metric of ROI is financial, and a tested-to-breaking-point product, including a user-centric UI, will assure the user experience is a pleasurable one, promoting more exchanges, and, in turn, increased revenue.

3.6.2 Trust

If the organization is providing the users a great user experience, the organization will also be strengthening trust in the brand. A user is more reasonably to retain with a website or platform that they’ve earlier had a trouble-free experience of, than one that’s showed something of a usability nightmare. How many customers are using the system, and how many are yielding to use again, can be tracked via analytics software.

3.6.3 Productivity

Profits can also be gained through an increase in productivity of any employee. Systems need rigorous testing to assure the design and UI are helpful to an experience that cuts the time it needs to accomplish a task, enabling the employee to gain more.

4.1 Introduction

The scope of this user experience and usability testing of the platform is for the pilot of GIZ’s enterprise portal which is focused on GIZ’s communities of practice. For this instance, it is very much important to understand the community business processes and the specific use cases for GIZ’s communities of practice (CoP).

A community is a group of experts’ / development practitioners that share knowledge on common development topics and challenges as well as work collaboratively on effective, efficient, innovative, sustainable solutions based on their own experiences and expertise. A community is a collection of people with shared values, behaviors and artifacts.

4.2 Communities of practice

Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. [UWen15]

Shared domain: It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Website ≠ community.

Sense of community: In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information.

Shared practice: Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems-in short a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction.

Communities of practice have a great impact on organizational value chain and knowledge management including knowledge sharing. The infusing factors based on the effectiveness of the communities on practice has been explained by W.M.H. Oosting in 2009 which has shown below:

Figure 4: Influencing elements of the effectiveness of a CoP [Oosting09]

The core is the proper connection between purpose, content, content, conversations and connections where the purpose is at the center and everything is linked bi-directionally with it. From the figure we can express wrathfully that setting up the purpose has a great impact on the success of CoP.

4.3 Community Management Framework

For the business case of GIZ, we have clustered questions which lead to the Community Management Framework. These clusters lead to the business needs of GIZ’s Communities.


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Purpose and incentives

What is in for me? What benefits do we hope to get? Strategic relevance of the common topic?


What useful (preliminary) outcomes do we want to achieve?

Stakeholders /actors

Who should be a member? What is their social glue/shared practice? Have key roles been defined?


What ground rules and milestones do we need for internal cooperation and management?


What common vision have we agreed upon?


Budget for the community? Are members given enough resources by their business units/organizations?


Strategy for planning and implementation by the community?


Plan/concept for increasing the number of members? How to turn new members into returning members?

Content and moderation

Who is/are the community manager/s? Do they have enough resources (time, opportunities and ability to build bridges) and the necessary status? What content is to be created and edited? What content can members be asked to input?