8.1. Introduction

User experience is the software layer in which users observe and interact with the service. The user experience of a single component is complex to define, design, and implement. And the complexity increases dramatically when it is provided collectively by multiple components developed by multiple organizations (exactly the case in a data space use case).  

The individual user interfaces might be confusing to the users, but the visible seams in-between services can have even worse impact. The journey for the user between different services and interfaces should be as easy, logical, and comfortable as possible. 

Good user experience is like oxygen; most of the time, users only notice it when it is absent. Bad user experience is a major hindrance to attracting and retaining users, and in the worst case, it can prevent the use of the service if the user does not understand how to interact with the service and achieve what they want to do. Unclarity, confusion, or lack of comfort distract and dissuade users from the service, and bad enough user experience provokes users to spread their evaluations to their peers.  

Conversely, a good user experience allows users to understand both their own journey in the service as well as enough about the big picture to recognize how they are involved in the data space. And counteracting the negative feedback loop above, a good user experience results in users advocating the service to their peers, organically growing the volume. From a human-centric point of view, it is very important to have clear and trustworthy interfaces for the users to understand what is done with their data and to emphasize that the user is the one who is in control. 

User experience is not only a matter of design and taste, but there is also very clear legislation requiring services to comply with usability requirements to ensure that all people with disabilities or lacking language skills are not excluded from the reachable audience.  

And while there is a lot of academic interest in user experience work (such as Association for Computing Machinery, The Special Interest Group on Computer–Human Interaction – ACM SIGCHI), innovation in the sector happens rapidly and wildly. Hence it is of utmost importance to be aware what kinds of solutions work or fail to work in the realm of digital services. This reconnaissance and intelligence work is a tool for continuous improvement – even if the underlying structures of the data space evolve slowly, the user interfaces above may evolve at a far more rapid pace.   

Use experience is a generic and universal concern; there is very little that is skills-specific. But unless those general design principles and best practices are observed and followed, the skills data space will be judged to be hard to use or even useless service by the very people whose experience is suboptimal, the users. 

According to the DSSC representative attending the workshop in June 2023, the user experience context is considered a future topic, and thus there is no guidance or instructions how user experience is to be cohesively and uniformly defined and implemented across data spaces. This, and the universal nature of user experience, are the reasons why this chapter includes general-level guidelines and not only skills data space-specific ones. 

The chapter follows up the introduction with a description of the EU-DUNE UX and concrete user experience implementations from Visions and Vastuu Group. Then a chapter outlines design principles and best practices to be applied to current and upcoming user interfaces to be provided in the data space. As this chapter gives guidelines also at a generic level, parts of this work could be in the future used as basis for wider guidelines between data spaces beyond only skills data space. 

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