The curved wall of the Airport Express train station at Hong Kong International Airport. (Photo by Stefan Irvine/LightRocket via Getty Images)
As the plane descends over Queens, you get a tense feeling. You are about to land at LaGuardia airport. The hallways will be slow moving and chaotic. The waiting areas overcrowded. Your Lyft will be stuck in traffic. Definitely not an optimum experience..
Visiting a website can be the same way. The ads get in the way, the page is slow to load and you can’t find what you’re looking for. For websites, the way you feel about a site is called the user experience. User experience (or UX) can be a painful or pleasant experience. As a digital designer, my aim is to create an experience that is smooth and graceful and helpful. And if I am truly doing my job well, no one should really detect the UX and design efforts – the site should just work well and give users what they want.
UX can be judged by many factors, but here are a few common questions to evaluate the experience:
- Is it usable?
- Is it valuable?
- Is it credible?
- Is it desirable?
- Does it bring you delight?
- How accessible is it?
By analyzing a site using these considerations, you can begin to frame ways to improve it. But UX doesn’t exist only in the online realm.
Virtually any activity can be examined and judged through the lens of user experience. It can be stimulating to stop and think about a mundane action in your daily life and analyze its UX. The cup of coffee you bought this morning: How was it? Did the barista make it a desirable experience? Was it valuable experience? Was it accessible?
Travelers wait in a line at La Guardia Airport during a storm. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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You can also amplify the analysis to bigger systems. I have flown into LaGuardia airport dozens of times. They’re working to improve it, but its UX is rather sad.
But contrast LaGuardia’s UX with the Hong Kong International Airport’s UX. The Hong Kong airport is huge but it’s accessible. I can’t read the local alphabet, but there are signs in many languages to make it usable. It’s connected by direct rail to the center of the city. Whether it’s your final destination or you are connecting to Osaka, the airport has a smooth, transparent and helpful UX. Especially if you have time to relax in the frequent-flyer lounges.
Great UX is dependent on different systems playing well together. It’s a complicated and fascinating journey of building alliances and managing communication. A typical publishing web site will need collaboration from advertising, engineering, audience development, and content. When considering one of the busiest airports in the world, the UX functions get exponentially more intricate. The Hong Kong airport is doing a good job in making the various systems work well together.
At Forbes, we are always making changes to improve the user experience. We ask ourselves how can we make it a more valuable experience. How can we make it more desirable. Hopefully, the next time you’re in Hong Kong reading Forbes on your phone, we’ll make your connection to Osaka more useful and delightful.