The field of digital design is changing rapidly as new technology and tools become available. Human-computer interaction (HCI) is changing in parallel as the platforms we use to interact with technology change and become more accessible.
This means that traditional intuitive approaches to design don’t necessarily provide an optimal user experience on modern apps and websites. The field of User Experience (UX) looks at new ways to address these issues.
In South Africa, UX is not considered during the design process, or it is given only cursory attention towards the end of a design project where it will not be useful. Participatory design - UX as well as working with end users for better design - holds the potential to improve usability in websites and apps designed in South Africa.
Prof Helene Gelderblom, who runs the Informatics Design Labs at the University of Pretoria, is looking to address some of the challenges in the field of UX and participatory design in South Africa. Gelderblom and her colleagues have worked with companies such as Deloitte, ABSA, EpiUse and others to improve the UX of their websites and apps while advancing the use of UX in design in South Africa.
The team uses eye-tracking technology in combination with interviews and other qualitative data to help these companies improve their websites, and aims to start using big data to build on this approach.
Eye-tracking technology helps researchers gather data about a user’s experience of a website or platform.