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By Julia Burchell

Meet the UX Champion: Erik Meijer on good mobile user experience design and its potential

Erik Meijer on what good mobile user experience design is and its potential

Erik Meijer, Director and Chief Commercial Officer, Indosat and member of the Design Challenge selection panel, will be speaking at the GSMA mWomen Seminar, ‘Meeting Women’s Wants & Needs Through Mobile,’ at Mobile World Congress next week, where the Design Challenge winners will be announced. Today, he shares his thoughts on what good mobile user experience design is and its potential for benefiting both resource-poor women and the mobile industry.

1. Why is user experience design so important?

More and more people now have access to “smart” devices. And more and more features are becoming available on entry-level devices. This means that we need to ensure that such features and devices become increasingly easy to understand and to use by an increasingly large segment of the world’s population. Currently even the most tech-savvy smartphone users probably use less than half of all the features these devices offer. Good user experience design becomes the key to getting the maximum, relevant benefits out of the next wave of smart devices; with it, these devices have the potential to significantly enhance the productivity and happiness of more people in the world.

2. What characterizes a successful design?

A successful design needs to:

  • instantly show the relevance and benefits of using the device/features to the target user
  • instantly entice the target user to try it out
  • remove clutter: show on the opening screen the most relevant features/applications/use-cases and remove the non-important ones
  • look like it’s easy to use/not scare off potential users because it looks too complicated
  • use relevant terms & icons to the target user segment
  • minimise the number of “clicks” to perform relevant actions
  • have an intuitive input method
  • have easy-to-understand output formats
  • not use “jargon”
  • be pre-set with all relevant settings so that the device is “ready for use, straight out of the box”.
  • include a very simple and as-short-as-possible user manual

3. How can UX design improve women’s lives?

The right UX design will greatly increase the number of people that will be attracted to and can use the device. With this, many more women will be able to use smart devices and gain maximum benefits out of them. This in turn will improve these women’s livelihoods, happiness and success.

4. What is the role of research in UX design?

The most important element of a successful UX design is that it has to be relevant. The only way to know what is relevant to whom is by researching it. Also, target user tests of the initial concepts will be essential to be able to tweak and fine-tune the design to perfection.

5. What are some examples of innovative UX design in emerging markets?

For me, these are the Nokia Life / Qtel / Indosat mWomen application ‘Info Wanita,’ the Grameen Foundation apps in their Village Phone projects and Nokia’s c-series phones.

6. Why should the mobile industry invest in women as customers?

Aside from the obvious reason of scale (women make up around half of the total world population and is therefore a massive segment), women are also in many cases drivers of economic progress, influencers of their families and neighbourhoods, who are eager to improve their welfare.

7. Why is the Design Challenge a worthwhile initiative?

The next wave of growth in the telecoms and technology industry will be the mass-market adoption of smart devices and these will greatly change consumer behaviour and media consumption.

This mass adoption of smart devices depends mainly on three levers:

  • the decreasing costs of smart devices
  • the increase in purchasing power of consumers in many regions
  • the relevance and ease of use of the next wave of smart devices

This third lever is of the utmost importance and is the object of the GSMA mWomen Design Challenge. I sincerely hope that this initiative will form the basis for the next wave of smart devices for the masses, and women in particular.


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