UX Design Could Have Saved Google Glass
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Published on January 19, 2015
When you think of professionals that need to learn UX design, web designers and app developers are typically at the top of the list, and not hardware developers. Yet some UX training could have saved Google from their ill-fated attempts to sell Google Glass to the masses, and in the process also saved them tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. A brief background is in order for anyone not familiar with Google Glass, it is a set of eye glasses that included a small forward-facing camera, along with a display that only the user wearing the glasses can see. The glasses were integrated with an Internet connection, allowing for a wearer to access the Internet using voice commands and have information displayed on the display within the glasses. After a long struggle of trying to sell the devices, Google announced that they are discontinuing sales of Google Glass.
UX design is more than simply making a website, app, or product look attractive. While the user interface design is a part of the overall user experience, the user experience design process begins long before the look and feel of an app, website, or product is created. A fundamental user experience concept involves creating personas and user scenarios. This helps to identify the type of user who will be working with your creation, and the problem or need they are trying to solve by using it. Understanding why a product is needed, when it will be used, and who will use it are critical first steps in creating a successful user experience, and thus a successful product. By not addressing the needs of any particular set of users, and not solving any pressing user problems, Google Glass failed the first step of a successful UX design process.
If this were a UX consulting project, we would have spent days with the product managers for Google Glass identifying different scenarios and personas. Determining the type of problems we want to solve, and then building the product so it fit with the needs users have, and the times and places they would have used the product. Following this, conducting UX research using prototypes with users that represent the prospective audience would have helped identify problems much earlier in the design process, before the product was ever mass produced and brought to market.
UX design helps product managers and product designers obtain a better understood the needs of their audience, identifying if a product is viable, keeps products from failing, and delivers end-results that meet the needs of both the business and the user. Following the processes taught in UX design principles courses could have saved Google millions of dollars, adding yet another way in which there is a significant Return on Investment (ROI) for UX training, and showing the value of investing in the UX design process.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.