“Everything we do is in support of our users needs” Ashley Auld, eBay.
Ashley Auld, UX Design Manager at eBay was talking with Puntolab about user research ❤
- Do you use user research techniques to understand your user´s needs? Why? or Why not?
Yes, user research is our primary method for informing any decision we make about the development of our product.
“From strategy, to feature planning, to design & development, we make sure that everything we do is in support of our users needs”.
2. What user research techniques do you prefer and in which cases were they useful?
- Ethnographic research helps us understand who our users are at a high level, and what their economic status looks like. Answering questions like how much money they make, what kind of technology they use, where they live, how educated they are helps us pinpoint the types of users we think will be our targets and strive to create experiences that will meet their expectations. This helps us narrow down who we want to talk too in order to validate our assumptions, and eventually we will use these characteristics to create personas which embody our target audience.
- Qualitative Concept Validation Testing — Before we build anything we design into the product, we always test it with our personas across multiple devices. We do concept validation testing to make sure that what we are building resonates with our target audience, meets their expectations, and helps them accomplish their goals in an intuitive and easy way. Once something is built, we will also test again
- Qualitative Usability testing — After the concept validation, we will often modify our designs based on learnings from the first round of testing, then we will build it and test it again with users using real data and live html code. At this point, we will do usability testing to make sure that users don’t have trouble accomplishing their goals. This is also used to help inform us on why something may not be working correctly, if we identify it as an issue in quantitative testing.
- Quantitative research — Before we design anything, we will always do an analysis on users current behavior from a quantitative perspective. If a certain feature is found to not be used, or if interaction with a certain feature always nets a better outcome, we know what sort of things to enhance vs. diminish in our updated / improved designs. Quantitative testing also helps us determine the success or failure of certain features / designs after they have been released.
- A/B Testing — this is perhaps the most critical type of testing we do as part of our process. Features that we release which are considered to be “high risk” to the business are always A/B tested against the existing experience and the impact is measured against our most important metrics. We want to make sure anything we release does not create friction or degrade the users existing experience.
“We do usability testing to make sure that users don’t have trouble accomplishing their goals”.
3. Once you have insights, how do you introduce changes in your organization?
My organization has always been very dedicated to research as the primary driver behind decision making when it comes to our business strategy. However, when I first came on board, we did not have a lot of the tools we have today which helps us make research more a part of our everyday process in decision making about our product. We did not have a way to accurately A/B test new features, and we did not do Qualitative or quantitative testing. We have since gotten analysts hired who do the quantitative testing and I have begun the qualitative practice to validate our designs before build. Our Head of Product was dedicated to building a team that embraced the importance of research at our core, and as she built the team, each of us brought our knowledge of how we have used research to build a great product in the past and created a system that works for us.
“Our Head of Product was dedicated to building a team that embraced the importance of research at our core”
4. How should a user research study be in order to be most useful?
Before we begin any research, we always make sure we have a goal in mind. We craft a list of questions to answer, or a hypothesis to validate and make sure we aim the research to address these things. If research is framed in this context, then it will prove valuable to inform design decisions, future feature enhancements, and more.
“If research is framed in this context [having a goal in mind], then it will prove valuable to inform design decisions, future feature enhancements, and more”.
5. What has been the impact for your organization since you included user research?
Research helps us make decisions that would otherwise have been made in the dark, and thus there is much less risk involved to the business. We find that what we release is better received by our users, and we are able to design, build and launch things more quickly and efficiently when we have research to guide our decision making process. As a byproduct, we generate trust in the quality and efficiency of our team to execute a successful product within the larger organization.