Traditionally, design comes from art and architecture. Today, it is still not really clear where design ends and art begins. Some say an artist is designing for himself. He experiments, he wants to make statements and enjoy his creations. Designers, on the other hand, work for others and have a clear objective in mind: Addressing the user’s needs and meet their expectations for a given product or service.
I would say that the enhancement of the interaction between people and technology is the task of design.
This interaction is the basis of digital transformation, which goes further than the simple digitalization of products. Digital transformation englobes the whole business process with all the concerned actors. It stands for the redesign of a process in an end-to-end approach. And this is specifically where User experience (UX) design comes into play. It’s the process of creating products that provide meaningful and pertinent user experiences.
Valued in the private sector for a long time as a key catalyst for customer satisfaction, loyalty and corporate branding, UX design is now slowly finding its way into the public sector. A growing number of administrations have started to pay more attention to it, with the objective to improve user/customer experience.
Good UX design begins with the analysis and design of the following aspects: behavioral flow, usability, login attempts, time spent on a particular screen/process, etc. In a nutshell, overall customer experience of a product is the sum of smaller user experiences: Creating a seamless experience, where users can quickly and painlessly enter the service anytime and anywhere, all while knowing that their interaction is secure. During this analysis, a designer needs to put himself in the shoes of the end user in order to understand and consider his worries as well as the need to efficiently fulfill his tasks and reach his goals.
When analyzing the public sector, requirements differ slightly from those in the private sector. Only a few years ago, we merely considered two types of users with different needs: civil servants, fulfilling their work duty and citizens, looking for information and services. Nowadays, multiple users are integrated in a digital transformation process, such as civil servants, citizens, governmental institutions and third parties (architects, service providers). Achieving a universal UX experience requires business processes to be standardized, reliable, repeatable and auditable. Even if an optimal user experience for citizens is the goal, administrations have to keep in mind that civil servants need to be able to correctly fulfill their missions.
When SIGI started the development of the SIGINOVA business platform for Luxembourgish municipalities, we were fully aware that we had to address both technical and UX challenges. We had to make our public business solutions more user-centric, accessible and workflow-efficient, all while implementing an optimized customer experience.
In terms of productivity, we are convinced about the positive impact of UX enabling users to better focus on their job and spend less time on finding their way around the interface. Furthermore, a good UX design allows to save costs and time as users do not need to spend time on elaborate training courses thanks to straightforward implementation. This is even more relevant in the public sector as training often leads to service delays.
Another key element to develop excellent UX design is having a design-thinking mindset. We, therefore, completed our team with dedicated and highly skilled UX experts that helped us shift our teams towards a more customer-centric mindset.
We also began to integrate our users in the development process by encouraging their participation in various workshops, which greatly enhanced their acceptance of the new software design. These workshops have been organized according to a design-thinking methodology, through which design principles for solving complex business processes are applied. Essential elements of this methodology were f.ex. research, understanding of the customer’s business, definition of the problem, brainstorming for solutions, design of prototypes and tests. Agile development principles, which we apply at SIGI, are essential to this process.
Today, we are already looking to improve the existing UX design by testing some proven strategies from the gaming industry. Gamification speaks to the user’s natural inclination for rewards and winning. Software can achieve this by showing progress and offering a sense of achievement, which further motivates users to use and explore the service or to fulfil further tasks.
Artificial intelligence and the concept of nudging are other practices we investigate and that will become part of our continuous improvement design cycle. The goal is to simplify complex processes with the help of digital products.
At the end of the day, it all comes back to user experience and the question: How can we better serve and delight our customers and make sure that their product is being perceived, strictly speaking, as a SERVICE they want to use.