The Science Behind a Good App

January 18, 2018

Layan Damanhouri

Many of us find ourselves in frustrating situations at times when using a website or navigating our way in an app. On the other hand, when we encounter our favorite apps, we love using them but don’t necessarily know why.

Often small changes can make a big difference in the success of a product, according to experts in user experience. In a famous case study where a major e-commerce site replaced the “Register” button with a “Continue” button upon checkout, the retailer immediately saw an unprecedented boost in sales by an astounding 45 percent, generating $300 million in the first year.

Organizations tend to look to advertising agencies to build “pretty-looking” websites but some eventually fail, according to Nadeem Bakhsh, director of experience transformation and technology innovation at Uxbert Labs, based in Riyadh. “Company leaders will invest millions of riyals in projects that have no impact,” he says.

Products that people love using are, in fact, scientifically engineered to be easy to use, he explains. This involves user experience.

A ministry’s website, for instance, is ineffective in helping millions of people when it doesn’t relate to the citizen, he says. “Every ministry should have regular design thinking workshops with real users who should be allowed to share their opinion as this will save time and money. Some will have a call center but that’s an old solution. Facebook, one of the best apps in the world, doesn’t have a call center.”

“Websites are decided by the people, not the CEOs and executives,” he adds.

Experts of design thinking have determined that analyzing the psychology of users and testing prototypes before launching a product or service go a long way in not only increasing sales but also building brand loyalty and improving customer service.

By 2020, customer experience “will overtake price and product as they key brand differentiator”, according to Experience Dynamics, a usability consulting firm.

The science involves the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.

Uxbert Labs, one of the rare consultancy companies specialized in usability in the region, has a laboratory where a team of researchers, psychologists, designers and developers technologies such as VR goggles, eye-tracking devices and brain scanners to test them on users.

Studying emotions, like happiness and frustration, and analyzing what a user will choose to focus on or ignore when using an app or website gives valuable feedback to the team to design accordingly.

Apart from Uxbert Labs that was established in Riyadh three years ago, the science of user experience is still shy in Saudi Arabia.

There’s a gap to be filled in customer service and experience that goes under the umbrella of design thinking, according to local experts.

“There’s a need for shifting mindsets and using innovation and creativity in solving problems,” says Dr. Sameer Tabbakh, design thinking specialist.

“We’re often stuck in a culture of copying and pasting where certain models of products are successful abroad but not necessarily with the local culture here.”

Since design thinking involves human-centered approach, creating satisfied users is the ultimate goal, he says. “It’s reframing a problem and finding innovative solutions where listening to the user’s needs is the main element.”

January 18, 2018
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