How Big Data is transforming UX

The hype about big data isn’t going to die down. Designing smarter, customer-centric experiences is becoming a basic requirement for developing a sophisticated product or service. This evolution calls for valuable insights, data analytics, and research to inform strategic design decisions.

Rather than going with a look and feel scenario, UX professionals are being asked to dig deeper and utilize that data to inform design decisions. The shift in the industry is moving away from only getting by with visual design. Data-driven experiences are becoming the norm and the need to create experiences that resonate with a user’s pattern of behavior is becoming a priority.

What is big data?

Big data is known as a collection of data that can come from sources that can be inside and outside a company. This type of information is continually being fed into organizations daily and it becomes a source for ongoing findings and analysis.

Regular data is now becoming big data because it becomes large enough that it’s no longer easily processed by standard methods. With this surge in volume, spreadsheets become useless and processing data becomes difficult because it lacks the flexibility and the scalability to handle large quantities of information.

However, once that information is processed, that big data set becomes very valuable. It can highlight some key metrics, which allows you to develop a tailor-made solution for a user.

Making sense of this data is critical to the design, as it creates valuable insights that rely on having some context in mind. Without this context of the data, you’ll end up making generalized conclusions that won’t serve any purpose for the experience you’re trying to achieve.

Why is this relevant to my design?

How is this relevant to creating better products and experiences? Big data allows us to expand our knowledge of what a customer wants. It also gives us an opportunity to develop products and services that are better suited to a customer’s needs.

This type of data gives a deeper understanding of how customers behave and it allows a connection to them on a more meaningful level. It enhances the marketing activities by allowing analysis of customer behavior through multiple channels and gives an indication of whether the customer would most likely buy your products or services.

How it informs design strategy

It’s smart to use data from a variety of source to inform your design. Whether it’s web analytics, A/B tests, social media sentiment, customer surveys, sales data, stakeholder interviews, usability tests, or industry reports, all are valuable in developing an experience that’s engaging to your customer.

Combining quantitative and qualitative research is a good approach as it ties in numerical insights with perceived behavioral characteristics. This approach will tell the real story of what needs to be designed.

Web analytics can’t tell us everything that we need to know about a user’s behavior. The same can be said about usability tests. Big data is about variety and that means using multiple datasets. It creates a complete picture of how to produce designs and encourages users to engage and perform an action.

All data is important

Whether the data is big or small, it’s not flawless. You should easily find limitations and bias in every type of data that you evaluate. Good data always describes its biases and will provide some context of its limitations.

When developing your prototypes or wires with an online tool, make sure you’ve assessed your data sources before jumping in and starting to design your product. Even if the data isn’t relevant, that information is critical for you to know what to discount when building out your design.

Using data is about making iterations, creating improvements, and discovering new opportunities to engage with your users. This is a way to figure out the story of real people using your products and utilizing that data to create an experience that suits and meets all of their needs.

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