UXOps for an Optimal User Experience

Today, users have increasingly high demands and expectations for digital technologies. Websites and applications need to load quickly, remain stable, and be very user-friendly. Online presences must not disappoint expectations that surfing or shopping should always be an interesting and enjoyable experience, free from issues such as poor performance or other disruptive factors. Even payment processes should be friendly and seamless. The challenge for companies is that the quality of the user experience directly reflects on the brand. Therefore, UX management must become a central element of corporate identity management. Because today, the image of companies – and consequently their revenue – hinges on the customer experience on websites. The Generation Z, in particular, tolerates no annoying bugs or labyrinthine, impersonal websites. As the upcoming core target group, they set the standard for the quality of the user experience today.

Just over 15 years ago, it was acceptable for most websites to load less smoothly on early smartphones. Fragments of content stuttered in frames, wait times ensued, and the entire content gradually became visible. Concepts like "user experience" or "customer journey" weren't even considered. But what was beautiful was that it worked – and fascinated everyone: the mobile phone had become an "internet communication device" – with a wonderful widescreen touch display, a desktop-level web browser, and an email application. At that time, it was also quite common for desktop applications to have their quirks and for web pages to take their time loading. It was often annoying, especially since operating systems also caused plenty of trouble and needed regular reinstallation, but disruptions and interruptions were just part of the deal. That was the typical "user experience".

This performance remained the status quo for a while; it became a habit that everything worked, but not always smoothly, sometimes not at all temporarily. Disruptions were part of the user's daily life and were gradually or sometimes swiftly resolved. For instance, desktop services, classical monitoring, and early APM, with its ticketing systems, once established themselves as progressive approaches – from error to error reporting, through analysis and problem-solving, back to smooth operation. Normal. The waiting times consumed an immeasurable, even gigantic amount of productivity in the economy. However, the demands of companies and, especially, the expectations of users regarding technology and performance have changed rapidly.

Generations in Digital Flow

The digitization of private life and business, the development of e-commerce, and social media brought about tremendous change. While performance was the benchmark for functioning IT systems for a long time, it is now considered entirely natural. In January 2023, approximately 71 million people in Germany used social media, accounting for 85% of the total population.1 The Generation 9:16 is "always on": cohorts of Generation Z (14 to 27 years old) and Millennials (28 to 42 years old), totaling around 40 million people, are true "heavy users" compared to earlier users. They chat or surf for several hours daily.

Users aged 30 to 49 in Germany spent an average of about 2.5 hours per day on their devices in 2023 – 18 hours per week.2 Teenagers between 16 and 18, true digital natives, were online for over 7 hours daily!3 Users mainly send text messages, pictures, and videos via applications like WhatsApp and Telegram or the messenger services of social media platforms.4

Social commerce is becoming increasingly important. In 2022, 29% of Germans reported having made purchases via social media – over half of whom belonged to Generation Z.5 They use these platforms to make purchasing decisions based on feedback from "friends" or customers. Leading platforms for social selling include Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Digital life has become almost as real for Generation Z.

Users now expertly operate technically advanced smartphones with both thumbs at maximum speed, interact on highly performant, user-friendly pages of social media services, communicate multimedia, network, build relationships, and form digital communities, seek information, and mostly have fun. User experience has become a kind of digital flow – interruptions in their blissful ride are almost taboo for Zoomers, be it from people in real spaces, poorly designed pages, or technical issues, the latter are considered entirely intolerable.

Zoomers' Expectations Set the Bar for UX

By 2026 at the latest, a generational shift will occur: from then on, most of the advertising-relevant core target group aged 18 to 49 will belong to Generation Z.6 Therefore, the expectations of Zoomers regarding user experience must become the benchmark for the development of websites and online shops. Besides high speeds, a minimalist user interface with clear architecture and smart usability will also become very important – short paths, few but relevant pieces of information, useful services, personalization, and immersive experiences. Applications in companies must also be designed to meet the future requirements of Generation Z – clear, easy to use, and highly effective. Especially since Zoomers also evaluate potential employers based on their IT. Their demands imply an APM that ensures a continuously smooth operation through AI-driven observability and security solutions, an almost self-driven IT. With this development, user experience management also becomes a critical business task.

Companies in suitable industries must be present on highly frequented social media platforms in the appropriate form and tailor their online shops, not only linked there, to meet expectations. Because the user experience of offerings significantly contributes to the image or brand essence. Excellent performance and standardized designs will no longer suffice for success. Because already today, companies in all industries have significant catch-up needs: According to a KPMG study, Generation Z rates the customer experience on the websites of relevant brands significantly lower on average than other generations.7 There is generally a lack of "holistic customer focus", an adaptation of the business model for a strategic positioning derived from the brand, to attract this generation with suitable products and services.

At least: "CX – Customer Experience has arrived in management. It is seen as indispensable for successfully asserting oneself in the market,"8 writes Harald Henn, Partner at the Institute for Customer Experience Management (I-CEM). However, UX becomes a crucial element of CX in the world of e-commerce. Especially since the number of e-commerce users in Germany is constantly increasing; in 2023, there were approximately 71 million, while sales declined due to inflation, still totaling around 80 billion euros.9 However, the average shopping cart abandonment rate was still around 70% in 2022!10 Reasons for this include a lack of trust in the shops, incomplete product information, high or hidden shipping costs, complicated payment methods, or unfriendly checkout processes. Well-being is also disrupted by text cathedrals, sudden pop-ups, or links to non-existent pages. A new approach to user experience design is definitely needed.

UXOps for UX Design

The paradigm shift from web to UX design and prioritization of Generation Z's requirements is only gradually taking place. There are many technical possibilities, relevant developments include "Mobile First" and responsive web design.11 By 2022, the share of mobile devices in all page views in Europe was approximately 50%. In Germany, there are around 70 million smartphone users,12 while in 2023, around 92% or around 45 million people between the ages of 14 and 57 mainly surfed with these devices.13 Mobile UX design should, therefore, take center stage, as zooming, swiping, and scrolling must work smoothly, while websites on mobile devices should offer a similar structure, the same content, and the same look and feel as on desktops. Responsive design ensures a similar or identical display of website content on all devices – through flexible grids, flexible font and image sizes, and navigation mechanics that adapt to the device used.

Augmented reality is increasingly used to design an effective user experience. Users virtually place lamps and furniture in their living rooms or try on glasses. Through this gamification, they are temporarily engaged and can make their purchasing decisions much better.14 Artificial intelligence (AI) now also comes into play to gain valuable insights into user behavior and preferences. Because AI can analyze huge amounts of data on demand, for example, to create personalized patterns from a user history and specific movements across websites or to calculate probable behaviors and needs in advance through predictive analytics.

However, companies need more than just individual solutions; they require a strategic approach to the holistic concept of optimal user experience tailored to their respective brand images, products, or services. To achieve this, they must internally align and organize accordingly. Dymitr Romanowski of The Story, a web design agency,15 suggests integrating a separate department for UX design, which he aptly terms UxOps. This operational team consists of researchers, psychologists, and designers who conduct comprehensive target audience and user analyses, develop journeys on online presences, and design their entire user experience.

However, simply incorporating a separate UX team as optimizers of existing solutions into the organization is not enough. While post-implementation changes or additions are quite good, it is better if the experts accompany the conception and development of shops, services, or applications – solely from the user's perspective. For example, the ZEISS Group already measures the quality of software during its development regularly using a Custom Usability Index.16 This index results from 13 design principles, based on which user-friendliness is regularly evaluated during the project's progression through prototype testing, aiming for an optimal user or digital employee experience. Therefore, companies should consider supplementing their DevOps teams with designated experts for UxOps for the development and provision of digital presences and internal applications.

Collaborative Development: DevOps meets UXOps

The cooperation between teams for technical and design development has significant benefits for businesses. Good UX designers achieve relatively broad reach as they exploit various methods to reach as many users as possible. They process information about target audiences, consider market trends, analyze user data, and based on this, align the design of the information architecture and user-oriented usability with the company's image and goals. This results in brand-appropriate, clear experience worlds and product pages, trust-building contact options for solid customer service, or transparent and smart payment processes – an acceptable UX. Early integration of UxOps teams into the development processes of websites or software also reduces costs. They identify potential usability problems before deployment and, together with DevOps teams, develop good solutions through iterative processes, avoiding costly post-deployment corrections.

It is time for companies to significantly increase their website conversion rates – and thus their revenue – through demand-driven user experience. After all, the children of Generation Z, the Alphas, are already starting, familiar with smartphones and the internet since early childhood...



1 Kepios Pte. Ltd. https://datareportal-com.translate.goog/reports/digital-2023-germany?_x_tr_sl=en&_x_tr_tl=de&_x_tr_hl=de&_x_tr_pto=rq

2 Statista. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/714974/umfrage/taegliche-nutzungsdauer-von-smartphones-in-deutschland/

3 Jugend-Digitalstudie der Postbank 2023: https://www.presseportal.de/pm/6586/5544327

4 Statista. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/1425154/umfrage/umfrage-zu-den-aktivitaeten-im-internet-nach-generationen/

5 Die Nutzung von Social Selling und Social Commerce in Deutschland: https://www.capterra.com.de/blog/3558/social-selling-und-social-commerce-studie

6 group M. https://www.groupm.co.at/newsroom/mediennutzung-im-generationenvergleich/

7 KPMG. https://klardenker.kpmg.de/customer-insights-hub/was-die-generation-z-ausmacht/

8 Springer Professional. https://www.springerprofessional.de/wie-sales-und-marketing-von-customer-experience-profitieren/23593484

9 Statista. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/71568/umfrage/online-umsatz-mit-waren-seit-2000/

10 ADLOCA GmbH. https://adloca.de/wissen/ecommerce-entwicklung-deutschland/

11 Ethan Marcotte. https://aneventapart.com/speakers/ethan-marcotte/

12 Statista. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/198959/umfrage/anzahl-der-smartphonenutzer-in-deutschland-seit-2010/

13 Statista. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/1425152/umfrage/umfrage-zur-nutzung-von-endgeraeten-zum-surfen-im-internet-nach-generationen/

14 KPMG. https://klardenker.kpmg.de/customer-insights-hub/was-die-generation-z-ausmacht/

15 The Story. https://thestory.is/de/journal/ux-unternehmen-ux-forscher-vs-ux-designer/; zur Person: https://thestory.is/de/company/

16 Zeiss Group. https://blogs.zeiss.com/digital-innovation/de/usability-in-softwareentwicklungsprojekten/