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The importance of having a good user experience from the start
Apr 2007

The importance of having a good user experience from the start

A great product shouldn’t loose it’s appeal because it’s difficult to install or understand.

With electronic gadgets or software, the user experience begins at installation and configuration. Usually if it is too difficult to understand how to set-up the product, the consumer will choose a different one the next time.

Let’s take the example of the SlingBox. The SlingBox allows the user to watch and remotely control their TV set through the Internet. Simply connect the box to both the TV and the Internet. The connection to the Internet allows us to turn the TV on and off, change channels, and most importantly, watch TV shows as if we were at home.

After having tested out the installation and set-up process ourselves, we have to applaud Sling Media’s good work. The set-up process requires a number of important, but easy-to-follow steps. But first, let’s discuss an often overlooked, but very valuable part of the installation process: packaging and product layout.

The designers of the SlingBox packaged the product in a practical and logical way. Pieces are easily accessible and follow the installation process found in the user’s guide.

The User’s Guide, possibly the most important piece of the puzzle, is the first thing we see. (photo 1) It is clearly separated from the other parts. This makes sure the user does not miss it.

Photo 1

The components are well organized in small plastic bags, each marked with a letter that helps us identify the items discussed in the guide. (photo 2)

Photo 2

After installing the hardware, we move on to the software installation, which is also well explained. The installation Wizard contains simple bits of text that lead us through the process almost automatically. Because the steps are so easy to follow, the user isn’t overwhelmed. However, doing the installation manually is also an option if we so choose. Obviously, if more complex scenarios are needed the manual installation is a better choice. However in the majority of the cases the Wizard does most of the work for the user.

If the user has difficulty, a clear tutorial on the company’s Website shows how to proceed with the installation or troubleshooting. This is a useful tool for beginners, and a great example of how to help users have the best start-off experience possible.

The ease with which the user can set-up the SlingBox is an important reminder that user-friendly configuration and set-up should be a priority when planning to sell new products. A satisfying user experience should follow the user from the moment they open the box to the time the product is being used. Usability tests are essential to making sure customers are satisfied, in fact happy with their experience. Unfortunately sometimes the quality of a great product is overshadowed by the frustration a user feels in trying to understand how to use it.

Check back here next time when I discuss the technology of the SlingBox.

Photos: Michael (nino63004 via flickr)

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