Great User Experience is about providing a ‘good’ feeling to the user. This qualitative ideal defines the user’s willingness to engage with the product and return to it repeatedly to solve his problems or feel attached to it. Therefore, the customer is the center of the experience, and the end goal as a designer must be to create an experience that is enriching, empathetic, and possibly addictive too.
Products such as Airbnb, Facebook, and Google thrive because they value the customer above all others and keep them coming back to the point that it becomes an inseparable part of their lives.
Meeting the user at the crossroads is what customer-centric design entails. It is all about the user’s needs and has nothing to do with what the designer desires it to be.
5 Stages of Customer-Centric Design
- Discovery and ideation
- Communicating product releases and updates
- Continuous iteration
1. Discovery and ideation
The goal is to gather as much information as possible about the goals, target users, and user needs/frustrations by a rigorous process of empathizing with the human touch points and consolidating these findings into documentation, eventually leading to a detailed design brief for the project.
With requirements gathered from the study above and a clear focus on customer satisfaction, the objective is to design an effective, efficient product that best meets the needs defined above. There are multiple concepts and many rounds of brainstorming, and finally, a viable concept is chosen to be taken forward to the prototyping and testing phase.
The prototype created is to be tested with a sample set of users closely replicating the existing user base. The test users are asked about their experience with the product, and subtle details are noted, which can then be worked upon in the final release to deliver a stellar experience to the actual users.
4. Communicating product releases and updates
An essential part of any product is to keep the product updated and fresh to maintain the customer’s engagement. A user loves to feel that the people who built the product continue to care for the user/customer long after it has been released.
5. Continuous iteration
An essential facet of a customer-centric approach is frequently gathering user feedback to iterate and improve upon the existing product to ensure a consistently enjoyable experience for the user. This not only engages the user and makes him dependent on the product but also makes him feel cared for.
The benefits of involving customers in the design process
Customer-centric design means:
- Putting the user’s needs first – giving them a voice, ensuring all their needs are understood and met.
- Decreasing chances of shock by building excitement prior to the release of new features
- Promoting intuitive experiences
Customer-centricity is a mindset that defines the experience a product wants to serve its market. And with the rapid increase in the desire to serve customers efficiently, brands are rising, delivering with a customer-centric thought process, i.e. designing a product of the people, by the people, for the people.