User Experience - What is it, and why is it important?

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We can all recall times when we’ve had excellent and awful user experiences. These experiences occur not just in software, but in everyday situations. It could be the first time we tediously waited in line for a new smartphone (think back to the early days of the iPhone), or the latest blockbuster movie, or a game release. And we are definitely aware when we use software that “got it right” (or didn’t).

What is UX?

What exactly is User Experience (UX)?

When I ask people to define it, most can’t provide a clear response. We’ve all lived it, but have trouble articulating it in words. Some typical responses I’ve heard go something like this:

  • “It’s a buzz word really, but good for product design”

  • “It’s the great design and User interface! It’s the UI”

  • “It’s the design and UI?”

  • “It’s the name of the coffee machine, isn’t it?” (Someone actually did ask me this once)

Yes, yes, yes, and no!

But it’s so much more than that. As defined by Jacob Nielson, who coined the term UX, “User Experience is an emotion response when a person uses or anticipates using a product, feature, or service.”

There are many factors that contribute to good UX; the 10 Heuristics of Usability is an example. All these factors share one thing in common – they all trigger an emotional response.

Telco Customer Experience

What should a positive UX or customer experience (CX) look like for telco?

In Telco (and retail for that matter), the “Users” are your customers, as well as the people who serve your customers at every touch-point. The right UX design ensures that all users have a positive experience when engaging with the products, services, and features.

According to the Nielson Norman Group (world leaders in UX), there’s a direct correlation between success and satisfaction. This is not surprising! When we successfully complete a task, our brain sends us signals that make us feel good.

So if we know UX is an emotional response, it’s important to trigger these positive signals in the user throughout their journey if we want to create a good experience.

Give Customers and Employees What They Want

Customer expectations are high. They need to be served accurately and efficiently so they can go on with the rest of their day. They detest mistakes and long queues. Basically, they want a pleasant and seamless experience from the moment they enter your store. Telcos need to ensure their store design aesthetics, signage, advertising, queues, products, and brand displays positively add to the customer’s experience.

Your customers also want more power and control over their accounts. Self-serve kiosks and self-care mobile apps are great options that provide this; they make it easy to collect rewards, view bills, and make upgrades on the customer’s terms. These options also need to provide smooth experiences and add to the customer’s overall experience with a brand.

Employees are also important. They are your customer experience tour-guides. Providing them with the right tools in right environment isn’t enough anymore. The products and tools used by staff must perform quickly, be robust, super intuitive, easy to use, and driven by a user-centric design.

UX at Maplewave

At Maplewave, we implement a series of process and testing methodologies to guarantee our products deliver pleasant and efficient experiences that provide value.

Our UX designs use some of the basic principles of usability:

  • Is it learnable? If you need training or instructions to use the product, then you may want to go back to the drawing board. Today’s users want robust power with intuitive simplicity.

  • Is it efficient? Does it improve productivity? Is it fast and easy to use?

  • Is it memorable? Once you learn how to use the product, is it intuitive enough that you will remember how to use it? If it requires lengthy instructions or extensive training before every use, it’s not very memorable.

  • Does it have errors? You may think this goes without saying, but every error detracts from a good experience. Additionally, if there are errors, does the user have adequate controls or help to get out of the error state?

  • Are users satisfied? Remember, there is a direct correlation between satisfaction and success. Satisfaction is a measurement of UX, and it’s how you benchmark success.


UX seems straightforward, but that’s not always the case. Users will always behave in ways we don’t expect.

Despite our in-house experience, it’s important to stay humble and remind ourselves that we are not the user, nor is anyone on our team or in our company. It’s crucial that we understand those behaviors and test our assumptions before, during, and after development. This way, we ensure the products we create are purpose-built and fit the unique needs of the changing telco industry.

UX is about designing what works, not what we think will work. If everyone took that approach to design, we’d all live in a happier, more-efficient world.

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