What does “best” mean?
Best is in the eyes of the beholder. It doesn’t help if we think our products are outstanding when our stakeholders don’t see it the same way. Relevant quality is perceived quality. How can we create what is best for athletes and consumers? How can we create the best experiences? It certainly takes a huge array of activities and measures. A general approach, however, for achieving best experiences for people is Human-Centered Design (HCD).
I work at in the adidas Group’s Global IT department, heading the User Experience (UX) Team that offers HCD services to colleagues. We help optimize the user experience of solutions by consulting regarding HCD and offering user research, design solutions and usability evaluation services.
I often get asked what’s important when it comes to Human-Centred Design and UX, so here goes my little list:
- Involving people – early: To understand people and their needs, we need to involve them directly and from the very beginning and work with them in iterations to reach the best solution – for them. It’s all about seeing things through the lens of the users and to structure your solution so it benefits them. It would be arrogant to think we know better and then hope that people will love our products.
- Trying out solutions: To ensure the solutions work well for people and meet their needs, we have to try them out from their perspective. Presenting solutions to customers at the end of the creation process simply doesn’t work.
- A holistic approach: Another important aspect is to consider the entire experience holistically and end-to-end. Take for example, the way a consumer experiences the adidas brand. All elements of the experience have to play together holistically. It’s also important to look at both interactive (e.g. user interface of an app or website) and non-interactive components of solutions (e.g. our products, service quality or the store environment). To enable this, the parties involved in creating experiences need to collaborate closely. This could involve the Retail team, Marketing, Supply Chain and IT, just to name a few.
Tools and techniques that help create the best experiences
In HCD, there are a variety of different methods and techniques that are used to identify human needs and to test how well solutions meet these needs. Observation, diary studies, contextual interviews and digital analytics are just a few examples of tools that help us understand people better. An important method involves the iterative prototyping of solutions to inch closer to “the best” solution, supported by the evaluation by the actual users of the solution, in realistic settings, by applying for example eye-tracking tests.
Human-centred Design at the adidas Group
Creating the best user experiences is of course not limited to stakeholders outside of our company, but also applies to our employees. Here at the adidas Group, a growing number of internalspecialists are working on creating the best user experiences for both external and internal stakeholders. A concrete example of us applying HCD to an internal solution was the launch of our new intranet a-LIVE. Following the HCD approach, we work on shaping the user experience – the experience people have with interactive products – through improved interaction, user interface and visual design, and by applying methods such as user research and usability testing. I hope you found my very short excursion into the world of Human-Centred Design interesting. Creating the best experience is by no means a simple process, but an art that needs a lot of players pulling in one direction for the benefit of our consumers and customers.