The whole world has changed because of a trouble that we cannot see or touch. People have changed. Even the cultures that you thought would never change have changed.
Here we have to look through the eyes of an experienced designer. The scope of this trouble in terms of health, economy and even politics are so great that it is beyond our capacity. Indeed, we cannot talk about everything, but we can look from the side that is our duty. More closely than ever before, we must examine the resulting psychological pressure and its effects on user behavior.
Let’s evaluate the general environment first. A virus (Covid-19) that emerged in a country at one end of the world has spread all over the world, starting from that country. It has even been seen on uninhabited islands, where only a few families live. At the time I was writing this article -according to official records- the number of people who died from the virus in the world exceeded 3 million.
For months, it was discussed whether a mask is necessary, at which age, which color people are affected more, whether the effect of spreading with heat decreases and similar issues. Decisions were made, decisions were withdrawn. Billions (not millions) of people had to change their lives with various prohibitions. Health systems have been hit hard.
Around 10 vaccines have been found, millions have been produced and used, but oddly enough, the numbers of illnesses and deaths have continued to rise. The mutated virus continued to spread further and take more lives.
Needless to say, a chaotic environment has emerged that we, as human beings, cannot overcome.
Our two negative emotions were triggered like crazy. Fear and insecurity.
We were afraid of getting sick, afraid of dying, afraid of something happening to our loved ones, afraid of losing our job, afraid of losing everything that colored our lives.
Our distrust of administrators and politicians, who we doubted whether they made the right and quick decisions, increased. Our distrust of published statistics. Our distrust of people we think are hiding that they are sick even though they are sick. Even if we trust our country and our people, our distrust of other countries and people in the world, which directly affects us in this regard, has increased. We were horrified by the number of people who were not wearing masks or wearing them inappropriately but were walking around insensitively.
We are locked in our house. We clung to our phones, our televisions, our computers. Many of us have started to run businesses from home. It turned out that the working system called ‘remote’ in the common terminology in the sector, that is, working out of the office was more efficient than expected. Costs have fallen. Giant financial institutions have made working remotely compulsory and permanent. Although it has existed for years, a culture called Zoom has emerged because it directly responds to the remote lifestyle. Although it is the name of a video conferencing software, it has been the source of verbs such as Zooming.
There’s no need to hide it. We were already good with devices with screens. Now they have become an obligatory member of the family. This has caused the issue of user experience to become much more important.
User Has Changed
Our thing is people, our users. How their psychology changes when the wind blows is important to us. That’s why we have to examine the effects of an important environment such as a pandemic in more detail. Let’s compare life before coronavirus with life after;
|Before COVID-19||After COVID-19|
|Commuting every day to an office||No commuting and working from home|
|Taking their children to school or daycare||Homeschooling or caring for children at home|
|Exercising in a gym||Exercising at home, outdoors, or not at all|
|Socializing in large groups at bars||Socializing in small groups at home or outdoors, if at all|
|Buying products in stores||Buying products online|
|Going out to eat in restaurants||Ordering food to be delivered at home|
|Going to a movie theatre||Renting a movie at home|
|Going on international vacations||Going on a local road trip|
|Visiting a doctor’s office||Using a telehealth app from home|
|Visiting a government office to complete paperwork||Completing paperwork online|
Let’s consider the changes in users under some titles;
- Behavioral shifts : As people’s needs and expectations have changed, their general behavior has also changed markedly. We can list the sources that cause these behavioral changes as follows:
- A desire to avoid catching or spreading the virus
- Compliance with local regulations or quarantines
- Economic consequences of the virus or quarantine
- Some combination of these, or other factors
- Psychological shifts : In this period when depression and anxiety rise, people do not want to feel pressure on them. They got sensitive. They want to be comforted and reassured. For this reason, the quality of communication has become more important than ever.
- Changes in user groups : You might be surprised, but people, your users, are divided into risk averse and risk tolerant. Some want to be sure that you are providing a highly safe and healthy service, while others find basic and simple precautions sufficient. They even find other measures unnecessary and irritating. It is very difficult to please both groups at the same time.
- Regional effects : There are 3 main factors that affect the changes according to where you live.
- Illness and death rates where you live
- Measures taken by the government
- Implemented bans and restrictions
- Temporal effects : Whether the imposed restrictions will be temporary or permanent is a question mark for everyone. Even if it is not permanent, so are the conditions and time it will be reduced. Yeni normal It is certain that our living conditions have already changed permanently under the name of the new normal. But the question marks are deep and big.
Industries Have Changed
Users will change, but the industries that serve them will not. Of course not possible.
- E-commerce has reached a larger volume than ever before since physical shopping is not possible. Even the simplest needs began to be supplied over the internet.
- Cargo companies have become one of the sectors that bear the burden of online shopping the most. They worked day and night, even on the days that were normally holidays.
- Airline and tourism companies are on the verge of bankruptcy due to travel bans. Revocable flexible packages, which normally no one cares about, have been the most preferred, although they are expensive. New packages are created. Health-related details have been added to the written features of the hotels.
- The automotive industry had a brilliant period as people wanted to use their own private vehicle instead of public transportation. However, since there were problems in the supply processes, the second hand market surprised the first hand with their prices.
- In order to make the changing user habits meaningful, research companies are needed more than ever.
- Almost all companies in the technology sector were positively affected by the increase in the number and depth of users. Of course, this quantitative increase brought along the responsibility of qualitative development.
I will not consider each sector separately. In summary, changing living conditions have also changed the sectors needed. A large audience has formed, mostly sitting at home, restricted in their movements and using the digital world more than ever before.
Let’s face it, the topic of pandemic is a very big one. Even those closest to the subject cannot detect all its effects. For this reason, the greatest power you have is your investigative personality. You need to closely monitor all phases of your interaction with your users and observe and interpret the changes that occur.
You should reclassify your existing products and services and change their features and priority order according to the new normal. Maybe you had to remove some of your products from sale already. The best sellers turned to the least sellers. Your unexpected products have started a bright life. Consider all these in detail. This is necessary for your life.
Statistics are very important. It is much more effective to follow the changes numerically. People make mistakes, but numbers don’t. You can’t do business with predictions either. I don’t know exactly what kind of numbers you have, but you should keep track of whatever customer-related you have.
You should not make evaluations like we sold 3 this month. You should follow the change graphs since the beginning of the pandemic, by adding the date and date to the important events in these graphs. Which ban came. This ban affected which sectors directly and which indirectly. What effect does this have on my business? What days coincide with the increase in disease spread rates. How have my sales been affected during these periods? How were the incoming phone calls, the number of visitors to the website, the number of people entering my store affected -if your store is still open-. Like whatever you have on hand.
Can you guess how active the part called the old (reptilian) brain, which we talked about in another article, and which undertakes the brain functions related to survival, is these days?
And do you know that this department is 95% decision maker? So the most efficient way to reach people who feel in danger is to speak the language of the old brain.
And of course, don’t forget your colleagues. You run your business with them. Maybe you closed your office. Everyone is at home. But that doesn’t mean they don’t worry. It does not mean that they or their loved ones will not get sick. Make sure you can make a person’s eye shine by just asking. Both s/he and you need that shine.
If you haven’t used remote working opportunities, it’s time to use them, and if you do, it’s time to develop them. I had managers who said, “I wouldn’t call a job that doesn’t work face-to-face”. Now they are all at home. Things are running just fine.
User experience and experience design issues, I think, have settled at the most important point in its history. Because, at the point where human communication decreases, devices, screens, software and things come into play. We also design people’s experiences with them. Our task is great. Making people feel good.
Moran, Kate (2020), COVID-19 Has Changed Your Users. NNGroup.
Nielsen, Jakob (2020), UX Practitioners Adjusting to Post-Pandemic World, NNGroup.
Covid-19 sonrası tedarik zincirlerinde kazananlar ve kaybedenler (Turkish). Deloitte.
Ates Evren Aydinel
Engineer. 22 years white collar. Financial digital projects manager. Guest lecturer at various universities and institutions. Consultant. Book writer and publisher. Founder of Ates Experience Design.