UX Curve: A Method for Evaluating Long Term User Experience

UX Curve: A Method for Evaluating Long Term User Experience


What is User Experience (UX)? 

User Experience (UX) focuses on the essential aspect of any product company; its users. UX helps companies to thoroughly understand their users, their requirements, their abilities, and their limitations. UX is a growing field in the realm of human-computer interaction (HCI).   

User experience is a many-sided concept, and researchers are yet to find a commonly accepted definition.  

As Hassenzahl and Tractinsky debate, the concept of user experience tries to go beyond the task-oriented approach of traditional HCI. It brings out aspects such as beauty, fun, pleasure, and personal growth that satisfy general human needs but have little influential value.  

Therefore, in comparison to basic usability, enjoyability plays a crucial role in user experience. The limit to which an interactive product is gratifying to use is referred to as the product’s hedonic quality. The shift of importance from mere usability to experiential factors has confronted researchers in considering what user experience is and how to evaluate it.  

The UX Curve 

The method of measuring essential things like customer satisfaction and usability of the products is called the UX Curve. Most of the user experience (UX) design and studies related to it are concentrated upon evaluating short-term user experience and the product’s usage in daily life.  

The long-term relationship of users with the corresponding products and their experience with the product in the long-term is also a crucial factor that determines the overall market success of the product.  

The pleasure and the fun factor of using a product and its usability are the two main user experience factors. Still, the period throughout which the product is tested often falls short, which results in the neglect of essential data to make business decisions.  

The UX Curve method was developed to assist the user in reporting their experience over a more extended product usage period.  

The ease of learning how to use the new product is an aspect of user experience, but when users use the product for an extended period and recommend the product to others; that is what Long Term User Experience entails and not the tiny details or the initial experience of using the product.  

Some various methods and tools have been developed to collect data and information with regards to user’s perspectives and thoughts about using the product in different situations such as: 

Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and Day Reconstruction Method (DRM) were developed to analyze the users’ information. These research methods proved that Long Term UX does depend on the sequence of the events and the user’s personal experience with the product over more extended periods.  

As per the author of the leading research paper, users prefer experiences that improve over time rather than a negative experience or an experience that gets worse over time. Other techniques like CORPUS and iSCALE have also gained widespread popularity in recent years. The former is used to reconstruct the user experience over long periods, generally over a year. The latter technique allows the user to express their opinion and experience over long periods with the aid of a ‘Sketch”.  

The UX Curve is developed so that both parties, i.e., users and researchers, sit face-to-face, and wherein the researchers delve into the participant/user’s thought process. The main points or attributes that are discussed are: 

  • Attractiveness or the beauty of the products 
  • The extent of usage 
  • How the product is being utilized  
  • Ease of use of the product 

THE UX CURVE METHOD: DEVELOPMENT AND ITS IMPLEMENTATION 

Identifying the particular sequence of events was the main point that the researchers were focused on. This process has been proven to affect user’s overall evaluation and helps researchers predict future behavioral patterns of the users. 

Researchers developed a template through which users could draw a curve describing how their experience or opinion changed over time. The template included: 

  • A two-dimensional (2D) graph area 
  • Lines on paper to write on 
  • Space to briefly describe the justifications for any changes in the curve. 
  • The horizontal axis on the curve graph represents the time period or dimension from the very beginning of usage of the product till the current moment of use.  
  • The vertical axis consequently describes the potency of the user’s experience.  
  • The middle of the graph consisted of a horizontal zero line divided the area into a positive upper area and a negative lower area.  
  • The vertical axis was then labeled with the corresponding positive and negative signs.  

The UX Curve helps users to freely express their experiences without the confines of set guidelines or definitions.  

There are five variations of the template used for gathering data. The first one is as described above. The following four templates were more specific and addressed particular viewpoints in regards to UX, each having its headings such as: 

  • Attractiveness: “The product is attractive and interesting in your own eyes and those of your friends.” 
  • Ease of use: “The product is easy and effortless to use”  
  • Utility: “The product serves an important function for you.”  
  • Degree of usage: “Degree of usage over time.” 

After analyzing the curve graphs, they were categorized according to their trends. There were approximately ten categories, such as a U-form curve, improving negative, improving positive, and changeable.  

Next, the categories were simplified and filed into three dominant trends: improving, deteriorating, or stable. Thus, large numbers of qualitative data were gathered.  

Factors involved in the change of UX 

Two critical factors determined a change of experience in users. 

  • The practical and utility-based reasons include functionality, durability, and practicality. 
  • The aesthetic factors included stimulation, identification, and beauty. 

The results after combining these factors were as follows. 

  • The average number of positive factors was higher for those users who drew an improving curve than for those users who drew the descending curves.  
  • Likewise, the mean number of negative factors was lower for those who drew improving curves than those who had deteriorating curves.  
  • The quality of reasons related to the improving or deteriorating curves was quite similar, but technical glitches and bugs were frequently mentioned, related to the declining curves than the improving curves. 

Qualitative data analysis is far more formidable than quantitative data analysis. Still, to develop a product adequately, a solid listing of findings and their periodicity among users is, in most cases, a sufficient level of analysis, wherein most of the results are directly and practically applicable in further design work. 

 The strong point of the UX Curve method is that it uses fruitfully conveys their experiences. These experiences prove meaningful and help designers identify issues that create satisfying experiences and thus affect customer loyalty.  

Conclusion 

The UX Curve method is one of the most reasonable and cost-efficient methods for studying UX over a long period. Compared to extensive and drawn-out studies, it is a straightforward method that aids users in remembering essential issues that are related to long-term user experience.  

This method can be used for evaluating a range of products that are used daily or often. The UX Curve is optimally suited for collecting feedback about a product already present in the market and bracing the long-term development of customer loyalty with successive products or generations of products.  

Although this method may not be quite as suitable for analyzing the user experience of a product that is presently in development, it is to be noted. Some other and more specific methods, such as usability tests, are also needed to provide more precise user interface details. The resulting qualitative data from the UX Curve are not as rich in content as in field studies, but it is not taxing to analyze and can span a more extended time period. The UX Curve is not as rich in content as in field studies, but it is not so taxing to analyze and can span a longer time period.  

This type of analysis requires a modest effort, as the qualitative data were content analyzed and categorized. For the purpose of product development, a light-handed study would probably be enough for noting down the reasons that increase or decrease the attractiveness of the product, the factors that are reported often. The effort, as the qualitative data were content analyzed and categorized. For the purpose of product development, a light-handed analysis would probably be enough for noting down the reasons that increase or decrease the attractiveness of the product, the factors that are reported often.  

Then, it is only a matter of trying to improve upon the negative points and enhance the positive ones. These studies are less taxing to perform, as it has been found; more users can be accommodated compared to field studies, and the generalizing of information becomes easier to confirm.  

Thus, these results show that user experience is inherently personal, solidifying the theories put forth by many researchers. Different users have reactions ranging from both sides of the spectrum, even when they are experiencing the same product.  

User experience greatly depends on the context, and so, user characteristics also have a significant role in simulating a user experience. Thus, it would be beneficial to have a cross-selection of typical users to evaluate a particular product better. Additionally, the qualitative data can be analyzed to identify the repeatedly occurring reasons for improvements or deteriorations in user experience over time.  

Author Bio

Charlotte Lin is a content creator at escaperoom.com. She’s a passionate young woman, mother to an amazing nine-year-old, and an avid reader. Over the years, writing has helped her explore and understand the world as well as her own self. She loves to travel, meet new people, and spend quality time with her daughter. You can find her on LinkedIn.