Technical magazines

How a product becomes an experience


What makes products successful today and how does a product become an experience? We address this exciting question in a new article in "Technical Communication".

Nowadays, most products are on a par in terms of technology and quality. But how is it that certain products become icons and trendsetters while others are lost in the mass of competition?

In addition to the technical features, which often have hard physical/technical limits and also in terms of manufacturing costs, it is above all the operation and usability that contribute significantly to frustration or enthusiasm. A product must offer the right feature at the right time, in the right context, be intuitive to use and leave a positive experience. If all these criteria are met, we speak of a positive user experience. In other words, there is a symbiosis of function and technology, of physical hardware and virtual software.

A successful product should therefore always be accompanied by a high-quality experience on a functional and emotional level. The terms pragmatic and hedonic quality are used to describe this rule for successful products, whether on the software or hardware side. If a product can be used quickly and intuitively, it is referred to as pragmatic quality. If a product also subconsciously touches the emotional level of the user, it is referred to as hedonic quality. Products and services only have a chance of success today if the pragmatic and hedonic qualities occur together and are correspondingly high. So if a product cannot really be made "better" through comparable technical standards, it must be made "smarter" and "more desirable" through innovative and intuitive operation and useful additional features.

The brand experience also has a significant influence on the user's perception and emotional experience. The foundation of this brand experience world is always formed by the physical products and their actual characteristics. Nowadays, many industries forget this, so that despite elaborate image and advertising campaigns, the foundation quickly crumbles due to unfulfilled promises of product performance and then a decline in value can hardly be stopped. Conversely, an inspiring user experience of the product is a real booster for the brand myth.

The influencing factors for the brand myth and the product now also increasingly include aspects ofsustainability and future viability, not only in the ecological sense but also in the social and technological sense, as commitments and solutions to new technologies are also a conscious commitment on the part of users and therefore contribute significantly to the product experience (see e.g. the Tesla myth).

The biggest mistake that is often made is purely technically driven development. Here, technical requirements are paired with the often numerous and very enthusiastic demands of marketing and sales. In the best case, regular customers are consulted during development, but they are already familiar with previous products or similar technology. These then often determine the functionalities and appearance of a product, but not the user requirements. The technology should be seen as part of the solution, not as a driver. The technology provides the platform on which the user requirements are based. The technical function should support the user in achieving their goals without them realizing it. If a product feature is too technical and complex, it will deter the user rather than inspire them and the user experience will be dampened.

If you are aware of the behavior of users and involve them in development right from the start, there is not much that can go wrong in terms of user experience during product development. It is important to constantly check the development steps through (usability) testing. Only after successfully completing a test should you move on to the next development step in order to avoid additional costs later on. My advice here is to always ask yourself the following question: is the developed solution the way it is because my user expects it to be or because it is the technical requirement?

This article is an excerpt from the current issue of "Technische Kommunikation 01/20" and can be downloaded and read here >.

Your contact person
Evamaria Plehn, Head of UI/UX Design
Evamaria Plehn, Head of UI/UX Design
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