UX Design in Covid-19 Times
This year, the way we live, work, communicate and socialise has dramatically changed. As a consequence, this has caused a shift in how users interact and engage with physical and digital experiences. We can no longer assume that UX design which successfully met the demands of users before the pandemic, is doing so now.
During the national lockdown earlier this year, we had a series of brainstorm sessions to discuss how different industries were being affected by the pandemic and how UX design and research could be used to identify new opportunities and make a positive impact.
The first area we discussed was the UK hotel industry which was forced to close down from end March. They were permitted to reopen in July but within a challenging climate with strict conditions including social distancing measures, international travel restrictions, localised lockdowns and heightened hygiene standards. We focused on hotels in our local area of Cambridge and thought about how we could offer solutions to the following pain points: how could they attract bookings if guests were unable to travel to them? How could they build relationships as standalone experiences or as inducements to future bookings? How could they make the most of their expertise and local knowledge?
As consumer behaviour was forced to change drastically due to these travel limitations, we looked into 'personas' and analysed their new goals, frustrations and motivations. Through this, we created our 'Holidays at Home' concept which enabled hotels to deliver innovative, tech-focused holiday experiences to their guests at home. Bespoke, personalised and luxurious - if guests couldn't physically travel to stay at a hotel then the hotel experience could travel to them. The high-quality digital media experiences would curate the best of what a hotel has to offer, from signature food dishes to hand-picked toiletries and technology enabled video or audio tours of local attractions. This would be packaged together with a design that embodies the essence of the hotel's identity.
The second area of our focus was the courier/home delivery industry. A sector which saw a rising demand during the pandemic because people relied more heavily on home deliveries. It was straight-forward for customers to receive deliveries at home but an issue we identified with the user experience was that some courier services required printed returns documents or for the customer to visit a Post Office if they wanted to send back a delivery.
Our quick and easy solution would allow customers to send parcels from home just by using a pen and an app. No hardware was needed beyond a mobile phone, no printed labels, no extra materials needed by the courier agents, just a parcel ready to go to its destination. The integrated solution within the app would also help build brand loyalty and boost the efficiency of contact free collection and delivery. Each customer who required this service would receive a unique icon which would be easy to draw onto their package, scanned by the app and then sent to the respective destination - therefore making their user journey less painful and friction free.
Our third proposition was an app which would help curate lockdown life. Both the national and subsequent localised lockdowns, and social distancing measures disrupted daily life. People have been prevented from taking part in many activities through which they find meaning, such as visiting the gym, sharing good food with friends or taking part in acts of devotion at faith services. In response to this, we proposed to help people build a better normal through an app that supported micro-reminiscence, a way of finding joy in the seemingly mundane every day. It would aim to change how we appreciate the little things. The innovative app would apply insights from psychology to help people record and reflect on their daily experiences, helping them achieve a sense of fulfilment and associated wellbeing benefits during tough times.
The app would prompt users to come back to little fragments of their everyday to help them feel better and work towards building a better normal. Through regular interaction, users would be supported to build new habits aimed at finding contentment during tough times. The first version of the app would be aimed at activities around food, cooking and eating; however over time the app could be expanded to include physical activities, devotion and faith, and community participation.
The iterative design process would be built on engagement with users. Key to developing a successful technology is to not rely solely on what we think we know but to be open and responsive to evolving demands during the pandemic and the ‘new normal’ that has since followed.
As Covid-19 continues to dominate and dictate the world we live in, it will also continue to affect our UX design ideas, strategies and processes. We have to listen to users and respond accordingly to meet their ever-evolving needs and wants.
Our above ideas have not yet been taken to the next stage of development but we would be happy to discuss them in further detail if they could be of interest to you or your business. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.