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Inside Nihilent’s user experience lab

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Deepak Prabhu, VP of consulting and design at Nihilent.
Deepak Prabhu, VP of consulting and design at Nihilent.

Since opening its first user experience (UX) laboratory in SA, global consulting and services company Nihilent has witnessed an increase in the number of cross-sector organisations that require an agile approach to implementing their UX strategy.

In April, the India-headquartered company unveiled its UX lab, the first one outside India.

The new lab, based at The Campus in Bryanston, offers organisations services such as product design and development, evaluation of Web and mobile apps, design thinking, user interface design and change management. It also helps businesses design innovative and disruptive business models.

Speaking to ITWeb during a tour of the lab, Deepak Prabhu, VP of consulting and design at Nihilent, explained that in the digital era, organisations are required to transform their customer value proposition using an agile, innovative approach in their product and service offerings.

“However, meeting their customers’ increasing demands often becomes challenging, and usually the key problem boils down to the way they have designed their customer experience. The Nihilent lab uses a patented design-thinking framework and analytical tools to identify cognitive and emotional triggers as well as non-verbal modalities of UX, to assess how customers respond to products,” noted Prabhu.

The lab has multidisciplinary teams of professionals who work with organisations to enhance the UX, by compiling consumer data, based on non-verbal and verbal cues, to humanise the interaction between consumers and technology.

In order to get a real experience of how customers perceive and engage with a brand’s offerings, Nihilent recruits individuals according to the target market demographics stipulated by the client.

The lab encompasses three main rooms: observation centre, test room and simulation centre.

Technologies used in the lab include brain wave sensors, Web cams, large TV screens, Microsoft Azure’s facial recognition tools, headsets and Lumos software, all aimed at monitoring a customer’s senses, and analysing how the product makes them “feel” while using it.

The products tested can include anything from digital offerings such as mobile or Web apps, digital banking services or engaging with a company chatbot, to physical services such as waiting in a queue.

The client starts by identifying who the target market is and what they want to achieve. A Nihilent consultant then undertakes a process where a ‘guinea pig’ customer is identified and used to test the product/service offering.

The client identifies the target market prior to the testing.
The client identifies the target market prior to the testing.

After the identification process, the customer undergoes the test, experimenting with the mobile app or Web site, to test the UX in terms of functionality and ease of use.

Using biometric technology, sensors and cameras, the customer’s facial expression, emotional response and brain activity are detected and analysed.

The customer’s facial expression and emotional response are analysed.
The customer’s facial expression and emotional response are analysed.

The client is able to view the testing process through computer screens from a different room – the observation centre.

The observation centre.
The observation centre.

Finally, in the simulation centre, the customer watches videos and footage relating to the experience and is given an opportunity to participate in a one-on-one interview to provide feedback about the product experience.

The simulation centre.
The simulation centre.

The data points received from the test include Web cam, brain waves, face-to-face interview and biometrics information, which are all analysed to determine what re-evaluation process has to be introduced.

“Our consultation services are not limited to digital solutions. We also give clients regular visits in their offices to assess the physical processes and how to implement change management in their user experience,” Prabhu concluded.

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