Product Tip: Conducting a User Experience Research

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
— Steve Jobs

There has been ongoing talks and discussions about customer involvement in creating innovative products and that brings us to the question of, how much does customer feedback feeds into the product development?.

Ignoring the take of customers who primarily are who you are building the products for is a tough call. On the other hand, it’s hard to get ahead with innovation with only the customer feedback because it only consists of today’s ideas and current happenings. So how well do we balance these two to build great products?

A well defined user experience research is one of the ways to best define a product’s needs.

Why we do it and why should I care?

Among many other benefits in guiding the product development journey,

  • To speed up the product development process, with clear set goals.
  • Help eliminate redesign costs as the features to be developed are more clear and fits user needs.
  • Helps increase user satisfaction and build with the user in mind.

The steps of user experience research:

  • Objectives:

Have clear objectives of the knowledge gaps you need to fill.

  • Hypothesis:

Detail out what you think you understand about your users. This can be done by creating clear user personas and mocking a user journey in the product.

  • Methods:

Set clear methods on conducting the research based on the timeline and also the resources available.

  • Conduct:

Set out to conduct the research and gather all possible information.The research should be a concrete examination of what is happening(best done by observing) and how the users feel. Trying to get the user to create their ideal products or suggest improvements shouldn’t be the approach, because most times these users don’t actually know what they want.

  • Synthesize:

Converge and fill out the knowledge gaps from the feedback collected. From this you get to prove or disapprove the hypothesis and then can now discover opportunities that will feed into the product.

What we want to uncover from this research:

  • What is a user trying to get done and what are the whys behind that?
  • How does the user currently do this given task?
  • With the current process they are using to get this something done, what are the frustrations?

Quick tips:

  • Sometimes patterns emerge right away, and when that happens, it’s okay to proceed to building without having to wait for a large number of users to give feedback. This shows that it’s not in all cases that statistical significance matters.
  • Keep leading questions to a minimum to allow users a chance to express themselves from their originality.
  • User interviews are a cheap and easy way to get data straight from the horse’s mouth, and so when utilized well, they can lead to building great products.
  • Prepare a script for the research and thoroughly ensure all key objectives are covered in the research plan before hand.