Carlos Neves


Head of UX, Xpand IT

How Artificial Intelligence is transforming digital experiences

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is often described as one of the pillars of the “4th Industrial Revolution” – a technological revolution that is fundamentally transforming the way we live, work and relate to each other. It is based on the convergence of various advanced technologies, including AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, the cloud and nanotechnology, among others. These technologies are developing exponentially and have the potential to cause profound changes in practically every sector of society, driving process automation, intelligent personalisation, advanced data analysis and improved human-machine interactions.
  • This article looks at the relationship between Artificial Intelligence and digital experiences and how AI is playing a vital role in the design of those experiences.

ArtificiaI Intelligence and digital experiences: a crucial role in UX

AI plays a crucial role in creating more personalised, efficient digital experiences.

The technology is capable of analysing massive volumes of data in real time and identifying patterns and mental models. This means it can understand and anticipate user behaviour, preferences and needs more accurately than ever before.

Predictive UX with AI is applicable in areas such as e-commerce, entertainment, health, retail, transport and education, among others.

For example:

• It can anticipate patients’ needs based on their medical history and suggest relevant treatments or consultations.

• The car industry uses AI to develop autonomous cars that can drive safely without human intervention.

• Investment platforms use it to analyse the financial market in real time and make recommendations based on the investor’s goals and risk profile.

• Online education portals use these technologies to offer personalised tutoring to students, assessing their progress and adapting content based on individual needs.

• In food retail, stock management and replenishment processes benefit from the potential of implementing AI tools, as exemplified in this Xpand IT use case.

AI is shaping the future and transforming how we design digital experiences. By having access to a vast amount of information about users, we can use it as the backbone of a relevant experience based on the user as an individual with specific needs and expectations.

The application of AI in UX design includes:

Intelligent Customisation

Personalisation is one of the most notable fields in which AI is making a difference. Companies like Amazon, Netflix and Spotify have adopted AI to offer personalised recommendations to their customers.

Virtual assistants

Chatbots and virtual assistants are examples of AI that offer more natural interactions with devices and applications, helping businesses to operate remotely. They respond to voice commands, provide information in natural language and can conduct specific tasks, making the experience more convenient and efficient.

Business process automation

Businesses are adopting automation for tasks such as customer service, inventory management and financial data processing. In more complex business processes, AI analyses data in real time and makes informed decisions to optimise operations.

Predictive UX

Predictive UX is made up of a set of powerful tools that analyse patterns, trends and correlations. These are some of its benefits and how it can be applied:

Contextual personalisation

The ability to analyse data and understand the context in which a user is interacting with a system or application. This includes considering information such as location, browsing history, personal preferences and environmental data.

Smart recommendations

One of the most visible aspects of predictive UX is the generation of intelligent recommendations, which is widely used in e-commerce platforms, content streaming and social networks.

Proactive assistance

AI is also used to provide proactive assistance. This means that instead of waiting for the user to ask for help, it can anticipate common problems or queries and offer solutions automatically.

Continuous learning

As the user interacts with the system, AI collects data on their preferences and behaviour, constantly refining predictions, and personalisation. The more data it has, the better it becomes at anticipating the user’s needs.

The future of AI in experience design

As AI continues to evolve, the future of UX becomes even more exciting. Personalisation will be taken to new heights, with systems that understand not only our behaviours but also why we make certain choices.
AI will improve accessibility, making digital experiences more inclusive for people with limitations. For example, AI systems can automatically translate content into sign language for deaf users, making such content even more accessible.

AI will also continue to play a crucial role in creating more natural and intuitive interactions. As voice recognition and natural language processing technology develops, it will be possible to interact with digital applications in a way that is closer to human communication, which will make technology easier to use and more accessible to everyone.

Final Thoughts

Artificial intelligence is transforming how we experience the digital world, making experiences more effective, engaging and convenient. However, like others before it, this technology still has a long way to go to mature and sustain itself. We have only just begun to explore the potential this technology has to revolutionise different businesses and industries.

The use of AI offers numerous opportunities, but also raises concerns that must be weighed up, such as the representativeness of models, data privacy, security measures, ethics and responsibility. Addressing these challenges is key to ensuring that AI is used consciously.

As we continue to move forward in this era of artificial intelligence, it is essential that UX professionals, in partnership with companies, are at the forefront of this revolution. The adoption of AI is not only a competitive advantage, but also a necessity in order to offer high-quality digital experiences in an increasingly connected and technology-driven world.

Carlos NevesHow Artificial Intelligence is transforming digital experiences
read more

UX Framework: which UX tools to use when creating a good experience

  • The ideal experience allows users to perform a task effectively and positively, ending with a feeling of satisfaction.
  • Building the ideal experience is a more complex journey – it’s a journey of learning, trial and error, successes and failures, and many iterations and evolutions.
  • Discover the UX tools we use at Xpand IT and the activities we execute to create unique experiences.

In the previous article, we discussed the fundamental characteristics of UX (holistically analysing behaviours, creating empathy and eliminating assumptions, and assuming a central role in the brand’s relationship with customers). In this article, we will detail some of the activities and tools we use to define intentional and memorable experiences that simultaneously meet specific business objectives.

Solve problems the UX way

The solution to a UX problem is to get a clear answer to the following questions:

  1. What’s the problem? (Clearly identify the problem)
  2. Who has this problem? (Who are we designing the experience for?)
  3. What are the goals? (Business and users)
  4. How will we solve the problem? (Strategy)
  5. Which features are needed to achieve those goals? (Functional requirements)
  6. How will the product work so that those goals can be accomplished? (Problem’s solution).

To find the answers, the UX team uses different activities and ux tools that must adapt to the complexity of the problem. These are the most significant:


A big part of the product’s success comes from finding the right problem to solve.

The discovery phase is probably the one that varies the most between projects. More complex projects will include significant user and competitor research activities, while small projects may ignore some of these activities, maintaining informal interviews, surveys or field studies.

What activities do we perform?

UX workshops for discovery, empathy and prioritisation – UX workshops are used throughout the process to solve cross-functional ownership issues and achieve consensus, among other goals.


Strategy is one of the processes that should have priority in the context of a UX definition.

Defining a clear strategy will shape the project’s objectives – what the organisation hopes to achieve, how success should be measured and determining priorities. At this stage, we should find answers to three fundamental questions: where is the company now, where does it want to go, and how does it want to get there?


The objective of the analysis phase is to extract concrete results from the data collected during the previous stage, moving from “what” users want/think/need to “why” they want/think/need.

What activities do we perform?

? Interpret data – we interpret the data to explain and understand raw data.

That interpretation summarises the patterns or underlying concepts found in the raw data: Key Insights (persona, action, need, constraint), Job-to-be-done (situation, motivation, expected outcome) and User Stories (such as persona, action, result)

? Functional analysis – functional analysts ensure, at this stage, that the focus is on the user, their objectives and how they perform the tasks to achieve said goals.

? Mental models – the way people build their mental models are based on many factors such as past experiences, knowledge level, and cultural references. The structure of a mental model diagram is divided into two parts: problem space and solution space.

? Experience map – an experience map is an extended version of a mental model based on a universal framework: product lifecycle stages, user experience emotions, data collected and insights from the UX team.

Projecting the experience

This phase of a UX project is collaborative and iterative. The premise is to present ideas to real users, obtain feedback, refine the ideas and repeat the process in an agile way. These ideas can be represented by interactive wireframes or functional prototypes, deliberately low fidelity prototypes to delay – at this point – any conversation related to graphic identity, branding or visual details.

What activities do we perform?

? User flows – when designing a digital product, we need to know what is expected of people, what we want them to do and what steps they need to take. User flows provide a guide, showing the succession of interactions that users must make from the starting point to completing the task.

Knowing the paths you want the users to follow informs how a product needs to be structured; Understanding information architecture – our brain prefers order to chaos. Information architecture takes the features of a project and places them so that they make sense to whoever will use them.

Information architecture can be divided into the following parts:

  • Identify: what content do we need to tell the brand’s story? What elements do we need to communicate what we need to convey?
  • Classify: categorise the content and design its distribution in the organisation and hierarchy of the product.
  • Map: structuring and organising, deciding how each concept or block of content will lead to the next.

Information architecture organises content into manageable hierarchies. This structure establishes how people will assimilate the ideas presented in a logical succession.

? Wireframes – creating a wireframe provides a high-level plan for each page, with visual indicators such as lines, grids, and boxes showing where content, images, and other elements will go. They are typically low resolution with a sparse and minimal layout.

Whether it’s a simple map of boxes, lines and boxes or a more sophisticated representation, wireframes provide a framework that also serves another essential function which is communication: they are a powerful visual tool, making it possible to show everyone, regardless of their job role, how the product will be structured.

Designing the product

This phase is where the high-fidelity design is developed, and the product’s first version is validated with stakeholders and end-users through user testing sessions. The role of the UX team shifts from creating and validating ideas to collaborating with development teams to guide and defend the product’s vision.

What activities do we perform?

? Prototyping – prototyping works like an almost finished version of a project.

Navigation, interactions, and key visual and content blocks will be in place. It is unnecessary to have all elements, but everything the user needs to interact and experience must be integrated.

Prototypes allow you to get feedback and adjust before you finish defining the UX. You can make both low and high-fidelity prototypes. Low-fidelity prototypes focus on function over visual design, while high-fidelity prototypes focus on the look and feel of the final version of the product.

? Micro-copy – text clusters responsible for shaping a generous portion of the experience. The effective use of these texts allows to guide, involve, suggest and create pleasant experiences.

? Functional guides – we produce visual, navigational and documentation guides to provide alignment with the UX and Development teams. This way, we ensure that the teams are updated on any development and changes made to the navigation structure or visual resources.

? Usability tests – once you have a working prototype, it’s time to do usability testing.

Usability tests can be moderated or unmoderated.

Face-to-face (moderated) tests allow you to analyse how people react emotionally to the experience, receive unfiltered feedback and understand what’s working and what is not.

Usability tests can happen at any point during the process.


As we’ve seen, the ideal experience allows users to perform a task effectively and positively, ending with a feeling of satisfaction.

This premise is deceptively simple: building the ideal experience is a more complex journey than one might think at first – in fact, it’s a journey of learning, trial and error, successes and failures, and many iterations and evolutions.

It doesn’t have a beginning, middle and end because the ideal experience changes as our users change; therefore, it’s iterative by nature. Xpand IT’s UX business unit is focused on creating omnichannel experiences that are useful and enjoyable for end-users and thoroughly adapted to our client’s business needs, goals, and vision.

Read the first part of this article. 

Carlos NevesUX Framework: which UX tools to use when creating a good experience
read more

UX Framework: how to create memorable experiences

  • The importance of psychology in UX and how to organise information;
  • The relationship between user behaviour and brands and the difference between UI, UX, CX and BX;
  • Users are at the heart of UX.

The UX process aims to build better experiences for digital products: it shapes the scenario, guides people and offers them something useful and valuable and affects how they feel. Content, structure and navigation come together to provide a memorable experience. An ideal experience allows users to perform a task effectively and positively, ending with a sense of satisfaction. Discover the UX framework at Xpand IT:

The importance of psychology in UX

The UX process starts with understanding the business goals and the best way to reach a target audience. By understanding the psychology (behavioural and cognitive) of the target audience, it’s possible to provide them with a positive and memorable experience.

In the field of Behavioural Psychology, we know it’s possible to induce people to have certain behaviours by submitting them to certain stimuli. In UX, this means that, through small stimuli in the interface, it is possible to guarantee that the user has the expected behaviour.

Therefore, when developing a digital product, it’s essential to consider the expected behaviour of the user and what can be done to reinforce it.

Cognitive Psychology is the area that focuses on the process of cognition and thinking. This field covers attention, memory, perception, language, and decision-making topics, among others.

Studies on perception and attention are most important in UX development routines: perception is how we capture and interpret external information through the senses. It is also related to attention, which deals with the prioritisation process our brain goes through when faced with different types of stimuli.

In addition, the experience must make sense from the point of view of structure and organisation: the human mind is constantly looking for patterns, and these must make sense to the user.

The relationship between user behaviour and brands

Sometimes we’re so obsessed with meeting user expectations that we don’t consider the need to focus on the brand for which we’re designing a product and experience. That is, we lose focus on what differentiates users from customers.

Before demystifying UX processes, it’s worth understanding the relationship between customer and user experience and the brand in a larger context. Each element of the customer experience contributes to creating a better brand experience.

So, what do the acronyms UI, UX, CX and BX mean, and how do they relate to each other?

UI – USER INTERFACE: The space where interactions between humans and machines take place.

UX – USER EXPERIENCE: How we feel when we interact with a product or service.

CX – CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: What happens when we interact with a product or service.

BX – BRAND EXPERIENCE: Build and aggregate the meaning of the brand in the consumer’s life.

UX + CX = BX: CX encompasses customer interactions with all facets of the brand, including the digital product, while UX is a part of the CX.

Users are at the heart of UX

As we’ve seen, UX is concerned with user motivations:

  • Why did they decide to access a website or an app?
  • What information do they need?
  • What problems are they facing?
  • What solutions are they looking for to solve them?

UX analyses users’ minds, designing an experience that will give them what they’re looking for or need in a simple and direct way.

Unlike UI, UX moves away from visual elements and focuses on connecting and engaging people with the product, building an experience that meets their expectations.

UX should be guided by empathy

The UX team constantly seeks to put itself in the user’s shoes and understand their logic reasoning. Their motivations and pain points are researched and uncovered to know how all the pieces fit together holistically, intending to help people achieve their goals.

It’s critical to understand their problems and the journey they will take to get where they want to go.

Research eliminates guesswork, letting us know real people’s challenges and expectations.

Genuine empathy cannot exist until we know deeply those we want to reach.

In conclusion, it is clear that UX is a multidisciplinary area that encompasses three fundamental characteristics:

  • Discover and analyse behaviours and mental models to understand them in their entirety and globality (holistic doctrine);
  • Have the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand their journeys and pain points, eliminating assumptions;
  • UX should be considered a central part of the macro scenario of the brand’s relationship with customers or potential customers.

In a follow-up article, we will pick up from where we left off to detail activities and tools we use to design intentional and memorable experiences that, at the same time, meet specific business objectives: How to solve a problem “the UX way”; Which activities do we perform in the moments of discovery, strategy and analysis; How to design a practical experience and design the final product.

Read the second part of this article. 

Carlos NevesUX Framework: how to create memorable experiences
read more

Applying ‘Product Thinking’ to UX

Life’s too short to build something nobody wants.

Ash Maurya in “Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan that Works”

UX/UI in Xpand IT

During recent years, Xpand IT has been investing in supplying UX/UI services, which has resulted in significant growth of our HCI (Human Computer Interaction) portfolio in B2B and B2C application software and mobile apps to both Portuguese and international clients.

Our interfaces and user experience design have always been based on the User-Centred Design concept and have been delivered in almost all industries: retail, banking, telecommunications, insurance, health, transportation, e-commerce, mobility, public utility, and others.

We are prepared for the next challenges concerning user experience in digital products  –  for example, we increasingly propose and design CUI (Conversational User Interfaces). However, we still find traces of a mentality that is not completely receptive to the idea of the digital product, and is more worried about lining up a huge number of functional requirements that sometimes are completely inappropriate to the needs of the final user of the product.

The immediacy experience offered mainly by social media apps is transforming our expectations concerning the way we want to use products and digital services. As UX designers, we feel the need to analyse the complete ecosystem that brands and users share, in order to define how a business can still be relevant in a world where immediacy is king.

User-Centred Design – with its concept of bringing users into the design process – exists to reduce the gaps between those who create a product and those who use it. The UX team from Xpand IT is focused on finding these gaps, preventing them and eliminating them.

Thinking about the product

In its traditional approach, UX/UI design is focused on the functionality of a digital product: the appearance of the interface (UI) and how users interact with it (UX).

However, a group of functionalities is just a small and fragile part of a product: it is just some of the many possible solutions to the problem the product is trying to solve.

It is not that functionality is not important, but it is usually secondary to the reason why people use a product. The reason is simple: the user uses the product to solve a specific problem in the real world.

In practice, this means we have to understand the product first. A particular function may (or may not) be a useful part of a product, but without the product, that functionality may be wasted.

For example, Uber’s app is frequently used as a good example of user experience design: one of the functions that creates the most empathy is the countdown that shows the time until the car is due to arrive, which is certainly convenient and is related to the goal of the app. However, what makes Uber so attractive is the ability to obtain quick and easy transportation in your area at any time. Even if the countdown functionality did not exist, the app would still be useful. In other words, Uber was conceived having in mind the goal of the product and not the resources that came with it.

Applying Product Thinking to the user experience has been experiencing increasing adherence by UX designers worldwide and expanded when well-known international professionals – such as the German Nikkel Blaase – brought it to a wider sphere of public disclosure. By the way, this talk might be a good starting point to learn more about the subject.

Defining the product

All in all, companies tend to assume that the more functions, the more useful the product will be; that the broader the target audience, the more people will use it; that the more use scenarios are mapped out, the more it will be present in people’s lives.

Which is not necessarily true: there are plenty of products out there with loads of functions that are not used by anyone.

A very common mistake is to start immediately by designing any kind of interface.

However, if the user’s problem has not yet been identified, why are functions and interfaces already being thought about?

It is precisely in this aspect that a lot of digital products fail: they try to solve a problem that does not exist.

A few things need to come before the solution that will be found to solve it: deeply understanding the problem, who the user is, and how the product is going to solve this problem.

However, the process of creation of digital products tend to be a little chaotic: inside a company, there are different departments, areas and businesses that have different opinions about what the product must be, for whom it must be designed and, mainly, which functionalities it must have.

That is why a thorough reflection to clearly define the scope and requirements of a digital product should be done:

  • Why are we investing in this product? What is the business deal in creating this product? Which data and statistics prove that the product is viable?
  • What is the product? What is its primary function? How does it stand out from the competition?
  • For whom is the product being created? What is the profile of the typical user? Which specific behaviours or needs of this user should be considered?
  • Where and when will the product be used? At what time and how much? At home, in traffic, at work? Is it a product for constant use or a one-time use product?
  • How do we want people to use the product? What do we want people to feel when using it? What problems do we want to solve?

Finding the correct answers to these questions constitutes the basic strategy to define a product and causes alignment between the various business areas of companies. This process, when well driven and supported by UX designers, brings huge advantages:

  • Build the right functions and interfaces for the user.
  • Understand the experience as a whole and not just a visual and interaction layer the user will see.
  • Ensure that the product solves real problems for its target users.
  • Minimize the risk of building something nobody would want to use, or that does not last a long time.


When this kind of thought about the product is part of the process from the beginning, UX designers can ask the right questions, communicate more efficiently and suggest appropriate functionalities.

It is easy to be overwhelmed with infinite functionality possibilities and ignore some of the important parts of the design process.

Avoid the potential traps when focusing only on functionality instead of on product usability, thereby turning the thinking about the product into part of the UX design process of the mobile or web app. There is nothing wrong with functionality, but it should not be more important than the real goal of the product.

Have this in mind, and the final result will be a digital product that is created, tested and personalised for the defined target audience, with greater probabilities of becoming essential and making users’ lives easier.

Carlos Neves

Senior Ux & UI Consultant, Xpand IT

Carlos NevesApplying ‘Product Thinking’ to UX
read more