Nihilent, a global consulting and solutions integration company, has announced the official opening of its first user experience (UX) lab on the continent, it is the only other such facility outside India and second globally.

The Lab was inaugurated by Minster of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.

The lab offers an ideal setting to innovate, drive a deeper understanding of customers and build products and services that create an emotional connect with the users.

The lab uses a patented design thinking framework and analytical tools to identify cognitive, and emotional triggers as well as non-verbal modalities of user experience with the goal of further humanising the interaction between users and technology. The lab is home to multidisciplinary teams of right and left-brain professionals working closely with customers to continually enhance user experience.

Located at Bryanston in Johannesburg, the lab has a start-up like feel to stimulate innovation and foster creativity. It caters to all type of businesses and verticals B2B and B2C for product/content validation, driving projects, facilitating design workshops and bringing to market the next big disruption.

Jeremy Ord, Nihilent chairman, says: “We are thrilled to have chosen South Africa for our second UX Lab in the world. We believe South Africa has the skills base to support our vision for the lab. South Africa’s emerging economy has tremendous growth potential and we are fully equipped to offer innovative products and services to our customers in the region.”

LC Singh, Nihilent executive vice-chairman, comments: “If you want to build brand affinity for either product or services, you need to give customers an experience, something memorable they can connect with and relate to. In a hyper-connected world, that’s your currency.

“Customer loyalty is a misnomer in the experience economy.”

Nihilent uses design thinking to deliver a personalised and enthralling experience. The process starts by first providing utilitarian functionalities and progresses to ensure features are easily and readily accessible by the users. Once the basics are in place, the company uses heuristics and quantitative assessments to work towards making these interactions pleasurable and meaningful.

Gunendra Patil, chief technology officer, says: “Design thinking reduces the ambiguity in innovation by involving the customers on prototypes to find, test and improve concepts. Funneling towards the pilot is efficient as learnings are derived from simulated environments and not static data.

“The user experience trend goes beyond the inclusion of just bells and whistles. From the proof of concept to prototype, empathy and understanding are key to enhancing the usability of the product/solution and customer. If businesses want to continually innovate, they must learn to think in UX.”