Improving human experiences is at the foundation of what we do here at Unite Us. From our Customer Success and Sales and Marketing through to our Product and Technology teams, we are always striving to break the boundaries of what makes an exceptional experience. From a personal standpoint, user experience is in my roots. Having a background in Personality and Behavioral Psychology, I'm always looking for ways to make our experiences as simple, non-stressful, and fulfilling as possible – not just for our users, but for every individual in need.
“This is just a tool to get our users where they need to be. They should be focusing on getting their clients the services they need, not the technology.”
What makes an experience?
Let’s take a look at what experience is. At its core, the definition of experience is: the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation... or, more simply: something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through.
Every individual has hundreds of experiences in a given day, most of which are cognitively ignored or not impressed due to other mitigating factors. This is known as cognitive load theory, which is where an individual has used all of their “working memory” resources. When this occurs, an individual is subject to inattentional blindness or, for lack of a better term, the effect of “invisible gorilla theory.” The invisible gorilla theory is based off an experiment conducted by Christopher Chabris, Ph.D. and Daniel Simons, Ph.D. In this experiment, they showed participants a video of people passing a ball around and instructed to keep track of how many times it’s passed. Halfway through the video, a gorilla walks through the screen. Interestingly enough, over half of the participants miss the gorilla entirely. Even when they are told about the gorilla, most people don’t believe it was there. This experiment depicts that we can’t always rely on our intuition and that what we see is affected by our perception in ways that we don’t realize.
Let’s take a look at what makes up a human-centered experience. Experience is made up of three main parts: art, science, and empathy. At Unite Us, we focus on understanding the principles of how people will interact with our tool and how those interactions will impact the individual they are looking to help.
The Science of Experience
I look at the science aspect of experience from a psychological point of view, which is made up of three core areas:
The science of mental process or how people acquire, process, and store information. When designing an experience, we look to make it intuitive and display all necessary controls in a way that makes it easy for our users to do what they need to do without expending any brain power on getting there.
How people exist within a social context and how thoughts, feelings, and behavior are influenced by those around us. We strive to create experiences that maximize the positive impact our platform is having in helping achieve a successful outcome for our users and the people they serve.
How the events and surroundings affect people and how our behaviors are influenced by the environment and situations around us. We study the situations in which our tools are used in to ensure that we’re prepared to take the stress out of a stressful situation for both our users and their clients.
All of the above are instrumental in our human-centered approach when working in a social support setting. Here at Unite Us, our users are tasked with improving people’s lives, often by addressing complex needs. Our platform is a tool in their toolbox that we are always looking to sharpen, hone, and improve on so they can better serve those in need.
The Art of Experience
The artistic side of experience also has three core areas:
Color palette, positioning, spacing, and font choice. When it comes to aesthetics, we believe in a minimalist approach and employ best design practices to make things easy to see, read, and understand.
The process of visually taking the user on a journey in a succinct way. We carefully develop workflows with our users’ best interests in mind. This narrative is about solving their needs, not just navigating our platform.
The feeling and emotions you are attempting to evoke from users. Our platform and brand are authentic and unified by our human-centered vision.
These particular areas are instrumental in the creation of the brand, marketing, and platform we create. We take a very careful look at each of these areas from the color palette, our messaging, and each interaction that we implement within our platform here at Unite Us.
The Empathy of Experience
The last piece of the experience trifecta may be the most important piece of all: empathy. To me, empathy is about seeing problems and experiences through the eyes of the people using our tools. Utilizing user research interviews, focus groups, and shadowing, we have gathered useful, insightful data to help validate or invalidate our hypotheses. Being empathetic and witnessing the real-world usage of our platform is one of the greatest assets we leverage at Unite Us. Understanding and being empathetic of our users' motivations places a human approach at the center of what we are looking to achieve. This gives us the ability to improve our platform to the point where our users’ focus is where it should be: on their clients, not our tool.
Once our Experience and Product teams have collected our findings on how to improve a particular experience or perhaps introduce a new feature, we present them to a committee of individuals that span various departments here at Unite Us. For these meetings, we always make sure to include individuals that directly interact with our platform and/or users every day. This committee discusses what the smartest approaches may be for solving problems that arose from our research and why. They also decide how to best implement new features into the platform.
This diagram shows how our experience design both begins and ends with a human. Everything in between – from empathizing and understanding all the way through to validation – is done with both the human origin and goal in mind. Our phased approach begins with our users. Once we empathize with them and understand the situation at hand, we move into the design process. Even after we have developed and validated a viable solution, we always continue to iterate. We’re always striving to improve and simplify our experiences.
We are cognizant of the fact that we have the unique privilege to not only improve the experience of those using our platform, but also those seeking services through it. Our approach to experience is two-pronged; our tool is designed to simplify case managers’ and care coordinators’ workflows while simultaneously factoring in their patients’/clients’ real-world issues. We keep this two-pronged mission at the forefront whenever we work to simplify a solution or improve our platform. At Unite Us, our goal is always to be ahead of the curve and give ourselves and our users the ability to serve those in need – smarter, faster, and better.