We’ve heard a lot about AV integrators and experience in the past year or so, since InfoComm International rebranded itself as the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA). The truth is most integrators have been doing user experience-based AV designs for years.
Designing for user experience isn’t just about finding the best way for the person who presses the buttons or controls the digital signage content to interact with the technology, said AVIXA staff instructor Marcus Yarborough in a presentation during Almo’s E4 AV Tour stop in Boston last week.
“The user isn’t just the presenter,” says Yarborough. “It’s all the people in the space.”
User experience design factors in visual design, interface design, aesthetics of the space, viewing angles, audio distribution and much more, he says.
“It’s not just about how something looks,” says Yarborough.
“Does the technology and the solution fit the needs of the user and does it allow for growth? We’ve had blinders on. We get into a rhythm. We know what works but we have to think of how we can make it better.”
Enhancing the User Experience
Interactive design allows the user to take the experience beyond simply plugging in a laptop or turning on a microphone, says Yarborough. And integrators shouldn’t simply be happy with providing a functional space for their customers when there’s always more that can be done to make it better.
“Just because something works, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved,” says Yarborough, pointing out the design of Craigslist isn’t exactly eye-catching but it’s functional enough to be a popular site for many to use to find and get rid of items of all sorts.
When designing a space with the user experience in mind, integrators should ask themselves three key questions: Is it valuable? Is it easy to use? And is it pleasant to use?
“Most designers are designing their solutions to the user experience, but they aren’t necessarily calling it that,” says Yarborough. In addition to being functional, reliable and usable, the AV designs of a technology solution should also be delightful, he says.
“When you have to search around for the right button, it can be frustrating,” says Yarborough.
“If we don’t make it so they want to use it, they won’t use it. It’s important for integrators and designers to think way ahead of what might be needed to accommodate all users.
“The truth is we can’t design the experience, since the experience is different for everyone. What we can do is incorporate the user experience into our AV designs,” he says.
Building a Better User Experience
The user experience includes things such as empathy, creativity, evidence, collaboration, execution and exploration.
“Nine out of 10 users want way more than they need, but some users have no idea what they want,” says Yarborough.
The AV designs process starts with understanding the user, defining the solution, thinking about how to create it, designing it then testing it to make sure it serves the intended purpose.
Yarborough emphasized the need to build in scalability for any technology solution.
“You need to include the option for growth,” he says. “The user experience doesn’t end with that project. You have to anticipate what the customer might want in the future.”
The best-designed systems are the ones that essentially become invisible to the users, says Yarborough.
“When the system works, people don’t think about how,” he says. “When it doesn’t, that’s when they start noticing it.”