Updated on February 11 , 2020 from the original “A basic intro to Quantum UX and XCI in User Experience.”
This article continues on Quantum UX vs Design Thinking. Top 5 differences and quick guide
A few months ago we published a sneak peek of our XCI-based UX framework. As seen in said article, this UX framework is the basis for creating multiform and multidimensional experiences. And those experiences are what we call Quantum UX.
Of course, beyond a vague definition, the previous paragraph tells us nothing about what Quantum UX is, what it is for, and how it is used.
Definition of Quantum UX (or QUX)
First of all, the best way to understand the concept is to define it. A definition (not final) is as follows:Quantum UX is a paradigm applicable to the science of user experience based on overlapping, multiform, and multidimensional experiences. Click To Tweet
What does this mean? That unlike most UX paradigms and frameworks that are structured and rigid in their conception, QUX is amorphous, without evident structure and completely fluid.
Introduction to the concept of XCI
As we could see in the cited article, QUX overcomes the limitations of UML and introduces a fundamental actor. But when we talk about QUX and the multiple shapes and overlaps, an actor can be other things. In this case, the actor can be an actor, a role and / or a paradigm at the same time!
Of course, we are talking about XCI.
And what is XCI? Neither more nor less than overcoming some limitations in the concept of HCI. Before you join the HCI lynch mob, please read on.
As we all know, HCI stands for Human Computer Interaction. And this UX specialization has been and continues to be valid in many cases, as it is based on principles proven time and time again.
However, with each passing day, we encounter problems that go far beyond the concept of HCI. For this reason, many professionals and UX experts try to “fit” research results into a paradigm that cannot contain such results. Which, as every researcher knows, will lead to wrong or at least inconsistent results.
Metaphorically speaking, it is the equivalent of trying to hold an elephant in a jar: It would only be possible if the jar were incredibly large, or the elephant incredibly small. But even if it succeeded, the data would not be valid, because both the giant jar and the miniature elephant would not exist or could only exist as abstractions. This is, of course, the opposite of HCI research and data-driven analytics.
And then we have XCI. XCI is a concept that extends the rigid structure of HCI based on UML. Basically, X replaces H (or, in other words, the rigid concept of “human” ceases to exist).
And what does the X mean in XCI?
The letter X in XCI represents any type of actor that interacts with a system. This actor can be human, animal, mechanical or cybernetic. But it can also be clusters of actors, or multiple actors with multiple roles, something impossible in HCI.
In short: XCI opens up the possibility of expanding the limits of HCI infinitely. XCI retains the HCI precepts, but makes them elastic.
The Components of QUX
Another important Quantum UX concept is UX Quanta, or UXQ.
To stick with the metaphor of quantum physics (or more accurately, Quantum Field Theory), a UXQ is not a single element (like an atom), but a probabilistic distribution of that atom in a field. Moreover, it is an excited state. In other words, it has more energy than the baseline of that element.
This sounds complicated, but as we will see later, it is quite simple. What we mean is that UXQ is not one process or one element, but several processes and elements modeled in certain ways based on statistical probabilities.
To illustrate this using a well-known research method in both user experience and marketing, let’s take the A / B testing method. In this method, we simply take a sample A, change the element ONE, and create a sample B. Then we compare the results obtained by both samples, and the one with the best performance is the winning sample.
In the case of UX Quanta, an A / B test is literally impossible. But in some ways it is more like what we know as Multivariate Test or MVT: the set of changes is larger, and the probability distribution requires more investigation as the number of changes increases.
UXQ is the part of the QUX equation that allows us multidimensionality and multiform experiences.
Quantum UX Energy, or QUXE
As we have seen above, the Quanta UXs are an excited state, i.e. with more “energy” than the baseline. The energy is given by the feeding and feedback between user interactions and a system.
Quantum UX Energy is a fundamental concept of the QUX paradigm: it is what enables UX to acquire this Q, so to speak. In other words, it is multiple information flows that set a static system in motion.
To understand it better: Let’s take a web page. Let’s say we see it in its initial state, the day we launch it, before anyone else sees it. This page will have an energy level (QUXE) of 0.
But once we observe its behavior and performance, we get data that allows us to make decisions.
- increase or decrease the amount of advertising purchased
- reposition elements to do CTR tests
- develop engagement strategies
- create marketing strategies with multiple products
- define geographically localized strategies
- analyze results and create probabilistic predictions
As we can see, all the usual things that any more or less serious company does on a daily basis, with tools that are available to everyone. And just in case we’re talking about free analytics tools .
So once we have the data from multiple sources, at different times, with different variables, we can take action.
In other words, the initial static element will have different types of interactions; from stakeholders, from users, from dynamic content scripts, from advertisers, and so on.
Therefore, it is logical to say that the static element already has an energy charge that it did not have at another point in time. This energy can be represented with formulas and equations. And at the same time becomes part of other equations that allow us to generate more efficient probabilistic systems than those we could develop by looking at the data.
XEl or Experience Elements
Last but not least, we have the Experience Elements or XEl. The Experience Elements are elastic and multidimensional elements that make up a QUX system. We can say that they are the basic skeleton of a QUX system.
For example, if we build a user interface (UI), we will create components that we can reuse, and at the same time generate scalable components. In fact, there are frameworks like Atomic Design that deal with just that.
But unlike frameworks like Atomic Design, or Google’s Material Design, XEls have two particular characteristics:
- they are not static, but able to be “disturbed”.
- And they don’t necessarily exist in one way, but in multiple ways.
For example, let’s look at a Material Design elements sheet:
And now one from Atomic Design:
As we can see, Material Design is decidedly static, it has no pretense of being anything other than what it is. Furthermore, MD guidelines abound in how strictly such guidelines must be followed for each item.
Atomic Design is more eclectic and elastic. It allows us more freedom and creativity. But despite that, it is still a set of static elements with a greater or lesser level of granularity.
For example, still talking about UI to make a more linear relationship with the mentioned frameworks, let’s take a site that sells groceries. Suppose that in this case, an XEl can be a CTA button. For one person. In some place.
But someone else, in another place, instead of a CTA button may see a form, or a slogan, or an interactive product.
And another person elsewhere may NOT see any combination of the above. In other words, a person with a visual disability will receive a specially prepared aural experience that is much richer than the typical accessible element.
But we can go further. As we said, UXQ allows us to add multidimensionality to the elements of QUX.
So we can leave the internet dimension and move on to the physical dimension. And this time, with the same XEl, another person can experience a combination of all of the above, only that in a DOOH system.
And someone else can get a personalized ad or information on TV specifically crafted for her.
And an XCI entity (for example a smart home system) may get information that allows it to verify the food that is missing in the refrigerator.
And another XCI entity can finally receive the “activity summary” from the XEl, and act in a certain way. For example, it can recommend that a human makes a call to the customer. Or it can send an email on its own automatically.
- Material Design is a set of independent elements in a two-dimensional plane
- Atomic Design is a set of elements that make up more complex elements within a two-dimensional plane
- QUX XEls are amorphous elements that function in multiple dimensions
As we can see, an XEl “reacts”. And for that it requires energy (QUXE) to function, energy that the XEl regenerates and multiplies. An XEl without energy is in an inert state, which also conveys very important information: an inert XEl clearly tells us that we are doing something wrong.
In the same way, we can have a “sick” XEl. We say that an XEl is sick when it receives and transmits energy, but the results are not as expected. In these cases, there is likely a programming error or faulty algorithmic logic. Or one of the variables in the equations we use has been substantially modified.
In summary: XEl are multiform and multidimensional elements that are not strictly displayed in a specific plane in particular, nor are they strictly triggers of interactions. XEl can be just this, but also much more: it is a transmitter, receiver, container and analyzer of information in real time.
What is Quantum UX and what is not
Quantum UX is …
As the name itself indicates. Obviously we are not talking about quantum physics, but about the quantum metaphor of elements that can exist and not exist at the same time and in all possible states.
Multiform and multishaped
QUX generates experiences in multiple forms. These forms are generated simultaneously or sequentially according to the need
QUX anticipates and works in multiple dimensions. You can use shape, depth, time and all the intermediate states of these dimensions interchangeably
QUX has no obvious structure or form. On the contrary, it adopts subjective forms and structures on demand.
QUX is a fundamentally inclusive paradigm. It considers all biological, mechanical and cybernetic entities, as well as their specificities. But also accounts for anthropological considerations such as age, ethnicity, language, cultural issues, accessibility levels, etc.
Personalized / Customized
QUX creates unique and unrepeatable experiences. The subjectivity of the receiver is what determines the experience.
QUX experiences are not designed to happen in a preset way. Rather, they are designed to happen in unique ways.
Against what may be thought, QUX is much more measurable than other forms of UX research and UXD. Experience generation is data-driven and data-crisscrossing, in ways that typical UX could never achieve.
Quantum UX is not (necessarily) …
The experiences created in QUX are not rigid, but fluid.
Quantum user experiences do not follow linear processes, but adapt to the user’s need.
QUX uses mathematical data based on measurements and research of user behavior. In this way, it creates new experiences that feed back previous processes and the data corresponding to those processes. However, random experiments can exist. For example, for recreational, artistic or research instances.
Unlike other UX frameworks, QUX is not infinite. Or rather: QUX experiences are endless, but the development processes of these experiences are clearly delimited in time. There’s no such thing as test-iteration-test-iteration(…) endless loops in QUX
Although the QUX development is eminently technological and makes use of high-level technology (mainly AI), it is not strictly necessary for the user to interact with a technological element in a conscious way.
The Quantum UX Ideal Process
On the other hand, Quantum UX does not follow a linear process.
IDEALLY, a QUX process always begins with the user, and from there defines the product or service.
You may wonder: how do I create a non-existent product? How can users provide insights about something that doesn’t exist?
The answer is simple: interpolating data.
Let’s take an example: the Covid-19 pandemic. We know there is no cure or vaccine (at least not at the time of this writing). But the effects of the pandemic make it easy to deduce what the need is.
Not only that: in light of the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, new rules and habits were imposed on users. Which made possible the creation of new products and services that cover needs that did not exist before. Or that they were not important enough to create a project from them.
In this sense, Quantum UX is as old as humanity. The vast majority of inventions that seem obvious to us today arose from deductive methods. That is: data interpolation.
As we can see, it couldn’t be simpler.
This apparent simplicity obviously takes on a higher degree of complexity as the data grows. Which also allows us a greater degree of certainty. If we have the possibility of using Big Data and Machine Learning, we will find patterns that constantly emerge. Some of them in new and unexpected ways.
These patterns that arise from the interpolation of user data allow us to create multiple services, or multiple different experiences for the same service.
Quantum UX Simple Process
But as we said above, this would be the IDEAL process.
However, until Big Data, AI and machine learning tools become popular, the process will most likely start from an idea. This idea can fill an existing need. Or it can be a total innovation and the need is going to be created (this is economics and basic marketing, so I am not going to delve into the subject).
In DT we already saw how the steps would be. In an ideal QUX process, we would look for the data interpolations related to that idea.
But in a simple Quantum UX process, we will start with the initial idea, and we will contrast it against the needs and goals of users and stakeholders. These data are normally very simple to obtain, and will allow us the initial interpolation without the need for more complex tools.
For this purpose, we are going to divide the project into 4 parts, which we can write on a sheet of paper.
At the beginning, we will write the idea of the product or service. Then, we will include the goals (time, budget, assets, sales, etc). Something very important: as in any investigation, we do not start from certainties, but from hypotheses. These hypotheses will be validated through a research process.
In the second section we analyze how achievable our goals are based on our users or target audience. This section is the User Data Dimension section.
In the third section, we analyze the general data of said audience. For example, economic, cultural, age, competition data, etc. Again, marketing or basic economics. We call this section General Data Dimension.
Finally, we will have a fourth section, which we will call User Experience Development.
Here, we will use what we have discovered from research with users and target audience, as well as general or context data. This sub-stage is called the Discovery Phase, since this is where we will analyze the data and validate the initial hypothesis. Or we will prove that it is invalid, but we may discover valuable data that will save us a lot of time and money.
The second sub-stage is Concept Design. Here we will conceptualize the different quanta that will make up the experience.
Finally, the third stage is that of Data Ideation. Contrary to other approaches, in QUX ideation refers to data manipulation. How to obtain data, how to manipulate such data and how to create self-generating experiences without the need for endless iterations or development
Quantum UX and XCI application examples
Update: we created a sample Quantum UX Experiment using AI so you can see an example of what QUX is and can do
Bibliography and resources related to Quantum UX & XCI Resources
Are you interested in learning more about Quantum UX and XCI? Here is a selection that we have compiled on the subject:
Wicked Problems in Design Thinking – R. Buchanan, 2018 (PDF)
Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction – J. Preece, H. Sharp, Y. Rogers, 2015 (Book)
Design Thinking – IDEO, (Web)
Basic Introduction to Quantum UX and HCI – F. Devin, 2019, Academia.edu (PDF)
This article continues on Quantum UX vs Design Thinking. Top 5 differences and quick guide
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