You may have heard the expression “user experience” – or “UX” for short. But what does it mean? What qualities must a product possess for users to develop an emotional attachment to it and enjoy working with it? Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can find answers to this question in the recently opened “Design4Xperience” competence center. The center helps SMEs develop new concepts that dovetail with the needs of the respective customer segment. Together with Fraunhofer IAO, Stuttgart Media University supervises the center, while bwcon GmbH is responsible for project management.
“User experience plays a vital role in the digitalization of business and the economy. By means of the competence center, we want to reach out in particular to SMEs, so that they remain competitive with their products,” says Nora Fronemann, who supervises the project at Fraunhofer IAO together with her colleague Anne Krüger.
In a time of fierce competition in digital offers, good usability alone is not enough. It is less a question of how to design a system that allows users to fulfill a task effectively and efficiently and more one of appealing to users’ personal needs and fostering a positive emotional connection between users and products or users and activities. User experience (UX) is not just the basis for future user behavior, but also plays a key role in customer and brand development. Big companies have already recognized the connection between a positive UX and the market potential of their products and services.
Now the “Design4Xperience” competence center has been created so that SMEs can benefit from targeted support in improving the user experience of their digital products and interactive services and creating more positive designs. As part of a multi-stage service package, the new center offers interested companies information and insights about user experience as well as tools for implementing the approaches developed. Furthermore, they can test the methods developed during the project of the same name. This is done in workshops that equip participants to then implement these methods in their company. On top of this, the competence center also offers consulting services tailored to the specific needs of SMEs.
The activities of the competence center are already showing success: “Through its work at and with our center, one SME customer has already managed to instill a creative and people-oriented mindset in its employees, who otherwise tend to be immersed in the world of features and functions,” reports Anne Krüger from Fraunhofer IAO.
In collaboration with bwcon GmbH, the research partners are putting together an attractive package for SMEs and are providing companies with individual guidance in each project phase, including how to apply the methods or how to tap potential sources of funding. This will enable SMEs to make their software products more appealing, innovative and successful in future.
The competence center emerged from the “Design4Xperience” project, which was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the “SME Digital” priority funding category. The project carried out research into positive experiences with technology and methods developed for positive UX.