Design: When the product listens to the user

Anyone can tell you the pleasure they have in using a smartphone, digital object, or “well-designed” app. Design plays an important role in the creation of a “good user experience.” Chantal Maugin, Director of Design and User Experience at the Orange Technocenter, explains her team’s mission.  

Design in all its forms

Design is not only a question of aesthetics and functions. Design is about utility and relevance. Design investigates whether usage has meaning or value. Design is a dialogue between technology, marketing, and usage.

In the area of technology, the goal of design is to incorporate a level of complexity to give the user the perception of fluidity. Chantal Maugin explains that, since we use an increasing number of digital services daily, attention must be paid to “ease of use, which is the key to adopting and experiencing these services without stress. … At that point, we go beyond the concept of a physical object.”
“For example, television services are still provided via a remote control and the user interface on the screen, the reaction between the command given and the service received, and the time required to flip through channels, etc. The functions of the DesignedByOrange remote control presented at the Show Hello were streamlined by moving some of them to the TV screen interface. This in particular was the result of close collaboration between technology, marketing, and expertise in ergonomics. Design investigates all aspects of the user experience.” 

The 3 dimensions involved in designing an experience

  • Utility: the end use of the service and its added value.
  • Usability: the fluidity with which the product allows the action for which it was designed to be performed.
  • Aesthetics: Not only the appearance but also the emotion.

The means to meet the challenge

The Design and User Experience teams of the Technocenter include some 50 people in Châtillon, London, Amman, and Abidjan. Teams work on innovation projects focusing on networks, connectivity, data, and the Internet of Things, and design things such as products, interfaces, sound, and packaging, etc... A few examples of their work were presented at the Show Hello.

Soon everyone whose skills allow them to help design the user experience (ergonomists, designers, service designers, sociologists, research engineers, study organizers, etc.) will be put in one department within IMT.

We also have country teams, and, together, our goal is to increase the impact of design and the user experience on our projects.


Observe and understand

“Observing users and understanding their behavior and their usage context is essential to the innovation process. One must not only understand users’ needs, but also see how they act and react, and it is important to make these observations throughout the project. The technical and economic constraints provide the context. We are not designing an object. We’re designing an overall experience.”

When designing interfaces, for example, the Orange teams take advantage of tests performed under real conditions to see whether their choices work. “Orange Lab provides us with a community of more than 40,000 potential volunteer testers who we can ask to carry out our experiments or test new services.”


A constantly evolving discipline

In order to rapidly and reliably integrate changing usage and user experience codes, Orange teams are constantly on alert, and must be able to question themselves. “In the digital world, people cannot function in a closed loop. The evident influence of players such as Apple and others is enormous and imposes codes and standards that must be taken into consideration.” Design is undergoing massive changes and includes a large range of types of expertise.


Helping young innovators

Orange is committed to the creation of innovative solutions to improve the user experience of its products, and it supports creation and design. Since 2010, the young designers competition has allowed design students to test their solutions for our digital world.

During the competition, these young professionals, who come from over 15 different countries, are supervised and advised by the Orange Design and Marketing teams.

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