A sign confirming mobility’s mainstream role for business and consumer relationships is the recent interest in high-quality digital experiences. But what are the implications for enterprise mobility development and testing? Mobile device clouds like Mobile Labs’ deviceConnect™ have yielded new successes using state-of the-art software engineering including agile methods, DevOps culture, continuous delivery, collaboration, and continuous automated test, among others. In this post we’ll consider how these very successes are making it possible to rise to the challenges of digital experience in mobility and we’ll take a look at the nature of the challenge.
First of all, what do we mean by “digital experience?” Several closely-related concepts are floating around, among them UX (user experience), DX (digital experience) and CX (customer experience), and lately, DCX (digital customer experience). Whether we’re talking about users, customers, or whether we focus on the digital elements of their experience, the underlying principle was laid down by Don Norman years ago when he coined the term “user experience” to describe the effect of the totality of a brand’s interactions with customers and users:
The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. … . In order to achieve high-quality user experience in a company’s offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.
It’s important to distinguish the total user experience from the user interface (UI), even though the UI is obviously an extremely important part of the design. As an example, consider a website with movie reviews. Even if the UI for finding a film is perfect, the UX will be poor for a user who wants information about a small independent release if the underlying database only contains movies from the major studios.
Some of the aspects of a digital design (whether web, mobile, or social media) that go beyond UI include ease of access to content on multiple devices, integration with other tools like social media, CRM software, excellent customer service, and what Norman describes as the “joy to use,” in effect creating a 1:1 relationship with customers that drives brand loyalty.
So, UX, CX, DX, and DCX involve multi-media and multi-discipline design in the service of delighting customers and building brand loyalty. Maybe the best way to sum up what the consultants mean by “end to end” experience is that customer satisfaction with digital interactions must feel as well-wrought, as high quality, and as useful as the actual, branded products.
As a key component of the digital aspects of customer experience, a UX/DX designer might suggest that UI design is closer to graphic design (how things look), and is therefore a critical part of how users feel about their experience. We’ve all seen beautiful web pages or apps that either are frustrating to use or don’t live up to the expectations set by their beauty. We’ve also seen apps that tantalize with a desired function but crash or have UI errors that keep that function inaccessible.
So where do technologies like mobile device clouds and the tools used with them fit into the world of UX/DX design? UX/DX and UI are partners. Just as a beautiful interface can yield a frustrated user, a brilliantly conceived user experience can be let down by a buggy or poorly-performing interface in any of the digital milieu.
Taking on UX/DX goals will bring more rapid and more high-level iteration to development and test, increasing the pressure on mobile developers to rapidly and iteratively build and test. In a sense, we are imposing a higher-level iterative loop – it’s not only about whether the app works, but how people react after using it. So, we have to create a working app before we can tackle UX/DX evaluation, and it has to keep working even as it is re-tooled to improve those reactions.
For UX/DX goals to be evaluated, the UI has to be beautifully designed and thoroughly tested. Without a working UI, the user experience is going to be poor. Much of the feedback from UX/DX evaluation will come from subjective reactions to concepts like, “Is the experience a joy to use?” “Do I feel that it lives up to the quality of the products it represents?” “Do I feel that the digital experience is on par with my other experiences of the brand?”
So, a return to the drawing board to improve UX/DX will likely have sweeping implications for the app – requiring new UI or new database content — in short, larger-scale design changes. Since UX is a subjective measure, the need to be able to rapidly change and test elements like the UI becomes all the more critical to getting it right. Automated continuous testing, continuous deployment, and rapid deployment are all critical tools the device cloud can deliver to make sure that design changes in other areas of the DX/UX experience can be rapidly accommodated in the final app.
If mobility is going to step up fully to the UX/DX challenge, we must accept new pressures to excel with “basic” issues like DevOps, developer debugging and checkout, and continuous delivery with automated tests.