Academics launch toolkit that aims to help businesses understand the experience their customers want

Loughborough University academics have launched a free downloadable toolkit that aims to help entrepreneurs understand the experience desired by customers.

The Sustainable User Experience (UX) Vision Toolkit hopes to bridge the gap between the complicated nature of customers and the limited stereotypes that businesses base their strategies upon.

Inspiration for the toolkit came from research carried out by University academics Dr Val Mitchell and Dr Garrath T. Wilson, of the Design School.

The pair used two Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) projects – HOTHOUSE and LEEDR (Low Effort Energy Demand Reduction) – to explore how customers (also known as users) interacted with energy within their homes.

They concluded that users are “complicated and dynamic, full of invention and emotion” yet ideas for innovative products and services are often technology-led rather than based on a clear understanding of the needs of the target users.

The Toolkit is designed to aid business’s understanding of the experience desired by customers and lead to market growth.

It aims to help entrepreneurs explore, discuss, and capture who their customers are and define the real experience that customers want when engaging with an entrepreneurial business’ products or services.

As part of the Toolkit development process, the academics collaborated with Forum for the Future and worked with two large UK retail brands.

A workshop with attendees of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Asia Pacific Business Forum (APBF 2018) in Hong Kong also helped shape the toolkit.

The feedback from the workshop allowed the team to tailor it to the needs of Asia Pacific businesses, where user-centred design is still in its infancy.  

Commenting on the Sustainable User Experience (UX) Vision Toolkit, Dr Wilson said: “Now more than ever, the quality of the user experience offered by business to customers is increasingly a key differentiator in the marketplace, and a limited understanding of the experience that customer’s desire can lead to market failure or poor growth, through lack of cohesion and direction at a strategic level.”

“What we hope to achieve is a radical change in how start-up businesses perceive, and sometimes treat their customers, with the end goals being a more profitable business, and a better user experience.”

The toolkit can be downloaded for free here. It can be used, shared, and adapted to fit different needs.

Dr Mitchell and Dr Wilson have also been working with designers, social scientists, and engineers to create ‘Home Life Insight Cards’ – cards organised around five key themes that aim to help researchers, designers, policy-makers, industry representatives and other stakeholders better understand the complexity of real-world resource demand and digital media use in the home

The cards are also based on insights from the HOTHOUSE and LEEDR projects. More information on them can be found here.