The guidelines were developed and refined by IBM usability design experts. They identified key elements and characteristics used in creating successful and satisfying initial experiences for the users of their products. They also identified successful design and evaluation processes and provided insights to integrating these processes within the product development cycle.
The results of their work and much additional follow-on work are included here to help all designers appreciate the importance of this crucial phase of product use and to share the insights that will allow product developers to create compelling, productive, and satisfying initial experiences for their users.
The motivation for examining how we design the initial experience becomes apparent when we consider some of its potential impacts:
Specific attention to the design of the initial experience should result in reduced support costs, improved customer satisfaction, and increased sales.
The initial experience associated with computers, workstations, and peripherals has tended to be much harder than that related to consumer electronic products. Thus, there is a need for an initial design focus that will lead to measurable improvements. Retailers such as CompUSA and Circuit City, and magazines such as Consumer Reports and PC Magazine measure aspects related to users' initial experience of products. Improvements will be apparent to customers before as well as after the purchase.
If the elements essential for users' initial experience (packaging, product documentation, software, accessories, sales or promotional literature, and the product itself) are not designed in concert, they are likely to come together in a haphazard manner that will create user frustration. Often, these pieces are developed by different groups and are not integrated until the product is ready to ship to the customer. While only a few of the developers are likely to see the entire package, all of the product's purchasers will.