Why are you developing new products and services?
This might sound like a simple question to answer but think again. Why are you developing the products and services that you and your team are working on right now? You might know what types of features you should implement, what the buttons should look like, but do you really know why you are implementing and developing all these features? This is one simple and extremely important question we need to know the answer for. For who are we developing these products and why should users spend their time and money to use it?
Time to time I hear people say things like ”Yeah, that's a cool feature, let's implement that one”. In every of those moments, my job as a user experience designer is to stop and think about in what way that feature will help our user to reach her goal. My purpose and aim are always to make sure that we are implementing only the features that are needed in order for the product to meet the user’s needs.
Many times products and services are formed by the cool features that we implement in the product. But very often we don't know how cool features will help our users to reach her goal.
• What aim does the product have?
• What goals does the user have?
• What are we trying to create?
If we don’t know the answer to these questions, our user won't know why she should use our product or service.
What about UX and VR?
Think about sailing a sailing boat. Sailing can be a great experience, there are perfect weather conditions you have good company and you know exactly how to sail the boat. In the same way, sailing can be an unpleasant experience, you might feel sea sick, not knowing what all the ropes are for, you feel exposed and that you just want to get out of the boat.
We can draw a parallel between the sailing and VR. The same way we are exposed to the sailing boat, a user is exposed to a VR device. The user needs to ha
ve to right tools (features, knowledge, guidance, motivations and more) to navigate. To be able to give the user the right tools we need to know where she wants to sail, what goal she has. When we know the user's goal, we can start developing a product or boat that has the equipment the user needs to reach her goal. My job here is to be the captain and make sure that the boat we develop has the right equipment so that the users then can navigate through uncertain waters.
From a UX perspective, the VR experience is determined by how the user experiences the virtual reality. This might sound obvious, but it is still very important to realize and point out that when a user enters a virtual reality, she enters a VR-world that has been created by developers. The difference between the real world and the VR-world are therefore that the VR-world is created by people and is experienced by people. So when a user puts a VR headset on, she is in the hands of the developers and therefore also exposed to the VR-world that other people have created.
Now when we are entering a relatively new field, the VR field, we have all the possibilities in the world to make sure that we keep focusing on why we develop the VR-world and why users should use it.
We have to remind our self that the VR-world that we create is a tool for the user the user use to have an experience. We develop tools, we design for user experiences, but science it is a user that is going to use it, the user will create her own experience from the tools that we have given her.
So next time you think about developing a cool feature, think about if this cool feature is going to help our users to reach her goals.