According to Steve Rogers, Google’s Director of Europe Middle East and Africa,” Designers need a user experience lab to design products with the customer in mind be it software or hardware products.
Rogers added that, ” All Google products go through user experience design labs before they are produced for the end user to make the user interaction with the final product simpler.”
Kenyan being an innovation hub for the region with global products such as M-Pesa, Ushahidi and now BRCK, and full of thousands of web and mobile developers and designers, the user experience design lab is a timely.
Mark Kamau, the iHub UX lead says the iHub UX Lab being the first of its kind in sub Saharan Africa aim to develop user experience and design thinking culture in Africa, a continent he says has virtually no user experience thinking in product development.
With the launch of the lab, Kamau says they aim to reach out to the entire community in Kenya and across the continent.
“We will reach out to product designers and students from universities to utilise the lab, what we are looking for is to develop a culture a user experience culture in Africa as several of the products are made from the designers perspective instead of the end user.”
Funded by Google to the tune of US$70,000 and many other contributions from other corporate firms, the lab is not just for use by web and mobile developers.
iHub Manager Jimmy Gitonga says there is much to do with the lab.”Just as it is in other markets, houses in Kenya will soon be automated. Real estate developers will use internet to fix security and other applications in their apartments. Vehicle assembly is done here in Kenya, these firms require a user experience lab.
Africa has talented programmers but the most of their products are not created with the user in mind, therefore many of their products don’t get much traction or market share compared to their counterparts in developed markets who have access to user experience labs, this lab will therefore reduce the hours they waste creating products that appeal only to them, will create a culture of having user-interface designers in their teams and will lead to better local products.
The user-experience lab will be open to startups, universities and businesses to test their products and get feedback from their target markets. The iHub UX Lab will then give the designers or developers recommendations for improvements before the products are released to the market or how it can be improved.