Back in August I posted my thoughts on some different ways to measure the success of a WLAN deployment. My main argument was that we needed to start finding ways to measure the overall user experience (UX) in addition to all the speeds and feeds. To my delight, my thoughts were generally well received in the wireless industry and the overall consensus was that UX should be one of the primary concerns when designing a WLAN. With that in mind, I think it is time to take this to the next level and try to come up with a standard way of measuring and communicating the UX of a WLAN; I call it the Universal Wireless User Experience Index (UWUX).
To highlight the potential value of this type of index, begin by asking yourself the following two questions. If you answer yes to either of them, then having a UWUX could have helped you.
- Consultants: Have you ever tried to talk a client out of certain WLAN UX design choices but failed because you couldn’t find a way to communicate just how user-unfriendly their WLAN was going to turn out?
- Administrators: Have you ever been forced to go back and redesign the way your end users register, sign-in, authenticate, and gain authorization to your WLAN after it has already been deployed? Was it, by chance, because the users complained that the WLAN was just too hard or complicated to use?
As I stated above, having a standard way of scoring the UX of WLAN and showing how it compares to other networks could be a very valuable tool when it comes to design and deploying an end product that will live or die by the opinions and comments of the end users. Imagine being able to demonstrate how requiring proxy settings changes on an uncontrolled guest WLAN will lower the UWUX score below a certain threshold; resulting in a dramatic increase in helpdesk requests. The results could be shown in a numerical format and a graphical scale formatso that anyone could understand regardless of technical knowledge.
The benefits of the UWUX Index increase dramatically as more people adopt it. It’s a lot like IQ scoring since no single score has any real meaning. Only when we compare a score to the rest of the scores in the index are we able to start deriving meaning. It’s because of this that I’ve decided to share my plans with the community in the hopes that there will be others who want to help design a universal index that can be used by all WLAN professionals and administrators regardless of company affiliation.
Will it be a challenge to come up with repeatable measurements? Yes.
Will it be hard to create an index that serves everyone’s needs? Yes, but the goal is to have an index that serves most common needs instead of all needs.
Will the end result be incredibly useful? Time will tell but I think the answer is yes. In my opinion, if the end result is that we all focus more on designing for user and business needs, then it is well worth it.
More to come…
Dan C. (@SimplyWifi)
If you would like to contribute ideas on what the UWUX Index should include please feel free to leave a comment below, DM me, or contact me through our website. I already have some ideas but am in the very early brainstorming stages so all ideas will be considered. Also, if you think this could fly, please retweet or share the post with WLAN, UX designers, or end-users so that we can gather ideas from as many different viewpoints as possible.