What is User Experience? At the beginning of the course in the summer semester 2020, exactly this question was first addressed to the students. The result shows how user experience is often seen in practice: Usability, User Interface Design and very strongly embedded in the context of software development. The fact that user experience is relevant wherever people interact with products, services or systems, but also the fact that 73 % of UX and usability professionals work in the industry & logistics and automotive sectors (source: Branchenreport 2019 of the German UPA) is often unknown.
What is User Experience all about? Before a product, service or other system can be optimized for users, a lot of preliminary work has to be done. One student described this fact very aptly in her feedback on the course: "I never thought how much work is behind it, whether a button is left or right...". This preliminary work concerns not only the user interface design itself, but also the collection of expectations and previous experiences as well as the analysis of preferences. The course offers an overview of UX practice and the possibility to apply the most important methods in practice. In addition to the better-known methods such as personas, prototypes and mockups, students also got to know user journeys and other less known testing methods. As usual in practice, most exercises were accomplished in small teams. The video gives an impression of the "Lecture Experience", which in 2020, thanks to digital possibilities, was similar for the students as in the face-to-face course in 2019 (see video for online exercise on user journeys).
Why do you need User Experience? As the name implies, the focus of user experience is always on the "user". Even if economic aspects often seem to conflict with UX goals, a compromise can usually be found. Guest lecturer Johannes Lehner demonstrated this discrepancy of different viewpoints using practical examples from his personal experience. Companies that use synergies resulting from the interaction of user experience in combination with other competencies or departments in a targeted and effective manner throughout their strategic decisions are discussed in more detail: Whoever buys an iPhone or a BMW, for example, does not just buy a product, but rather an identity and experience - brand identity becomes user identity - a synergy effect of UX and marketing. As soon as an user interacts with a product, service, or system, there is "User Experience". Whether this is associated positively or negatively depends on the use of this knowledge. Airbnb is a good example of the positive effect: Although Airbnb has developed a pure online platform, the most important moments of the user experience happen offline: the handing over of the keys, the stay in the accommodation, the checkout. Airbnb has overcome the most difficult hurdle for online platforms through the targeted use of digital technologies and with the user in focus: Offline user interactions are supported by an online platform and have a positive effect on the user experience.
What do I gain from knowing about User Experience? "I was able to take a lot out of the seminar, which I can now reuse in my master's degree" - Even though the student from the 2019 seminar from whom this quote is taken does not work in the UX area, this shows that the interdisciplinary and collaborative approach and the methods used throughout the course can be used in other areas as well. In addition to the close cooperation of different disciplines, the understanding and appreciation of colleagues and the team consciousness within the UX team, empathy and a good self-perception play a major role in the field of user experience. This basic understanding and flexible adaptability provide the basis for adapting and applying the methods to everyday problems. The guest lecture not only provides a good overview of exactly this knowledge, but also shows how useful the practical application of UX methods can be.
The guest lecturer, Johannes Lehner, has been working as a UX Designer and Usability Engineer at Intact, as well as self-employed under the brand jBear Graphics | designing emotions, since 2013. Since 2015, he has also been actively involved in the UXPA Austria (User Experience Professional Association Austria) and has been organizing meetups and workshops as part of his work as Regional Representative of UXPA Austria starting in 2019. In 2020, Johannes Lehner initiated the UX Graz Community, a local association of UX Professionals, who together promote knowledge exchange and closer cooperation in the field of user experience across companies. The UX Graz Community is also intended to offer career starters the opportunity to network with colleagues, UX professionals, and local companies and thus facilitate their career start.