How to offer wow in the Cloud? A unique book on the user experience provides help with service design

The Finnish Cloud Software Program has published a guidebook that examines cloud software development from the user experience point of view.

A comparable book on how the user experience contributes to service design has not been published before.

Cloud services are used daily by millions of people for communicating, sharing and storing content, gaming and consuming media. The way people perceive and experience Cloud services is critical to user acceptance and the eventual success of these services. However, technology developers and service developers need to design these services so that they are meaningful, fluent, pleasant and rewarding to use.

Much of the previous literature about the Cloud has focused on the technological development of the service infrastructure. While this is very important, it is just as important to work on the parallel human-centered stream that focuses on the user, the person, and not just the technology. This is what user-experience work is all about: understanding what people need, want, desire – and what fits into their lifestyles.

The four years (2010-2013) of the Finnish Cloud Software Program resulted in a rich exploration and innovation of the user experience and service design in the Cloud. The book Landmarks for the User Experience in the Cloud shares some of the findings and insights from the end users’, developers’ and business managers’ points of view. Creating successful Cloud services requires an understanding of user needs, values and practices, and matching the design of innovative services to them. Furthermore, the development companies also need to consider carefully the role of the user experience in their business logic and service delivery processes. One of the core issues is to place an emphasis on the social experience through features for on-line interaction that can truly connect people. Another key aspect is enabling fluent task transfer with a coherent experience between multiple devices, including mobile phones, tablets and PCs. In addition, users need to feel safe in the Cloud – they should always have a strong sense of privacy and data control.

Based on the work done in the Cloud Software Program, the book has three main parts. The first part sheds light on people’s perceptions of the Cloud – what it means to them and how they “live” in the Cloud. The insights of this part provide a basis for understanding what kind of service and user experience (UX) is needed to support users’ practices. The second part takes a developer’s viewpoint and presents issues that can help in the development of successful Cloud services. The last part discusses how the UX can give rise to new and better businesses in the Cloud. Finally, the book presents two multiphase case studies, conducted as part of the Cloud Software Program. Together these parts provide “landmarks” to what is important in Cloud UX development.

The book is aimed at product managers of Cloud services, UX managers, senior managers and students studying subjects related to Cloud development. Although the focus of the book is on consumer services, most of the ideas and arguments presented are applicable also for business services. The book provides practical advice on how to build the best possible user experience – including the “Wow” effect –with Cloud services.

Landmarks for the User Experience in the Cloud
Cloud Software’s final seminar 13.12, Marina Congress Center, Helsinki
Cloud Software Finland is a four-year programme of Digile (2010-2014), which focuses on developing various aspects of cloud services. The programme is funded by Tekes.