Edwin Mohammad
Oct 29, 2017 · 5 min read

A childhood friend of mine, Mika, is the daughter of the highest-paid management consultant in the country. Her mom is a lawyer, actually a successful one too in the city. So I guess you can imagine how wealthy her family is. She gets everything, a sports car that she drives to college and even her own apartment. No, not a one-bedroom studio, but like this!

How wonderful is life when you can wake up to this every morning. (Source: twistedsifter.com)

You would think that Mika may just be one of the luckiest daughters on the planet, but if you’ve known her as much as I have, with all due respect to Mika you’d actually feel a little sorry for her.

Raised under a strict parenting control, Mika’s parents are excessively protective and therefore have planned everything for her future. Well, in a way it is encouraging and ideally that is what parents must do, but just imagine what could possibly happen if the plans go against her future? These plans just so you know are set in stone and are not open to any kinds of negotiation.

Her parents insist her to take extra classes of economics. They want her to admire big-time investors like Buffett, Soros, and Trump. (Boy does she talk a lot of crap about those guys.) She’d rather carry on the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi or the Dalai Lama. So it is no wonder that half of her adult life has been spent on building connections with several NGO’s to stop violence. It is in her spirit to bring peace to the world.

So what can we learn from Mika’s parents and how does it relate with UX?

Now we have all guessed that as much as they care about her, they have not been focusing on what SHE wants, rather what THEY want from her. This may be way out of line but if I were Mika’s dad, I would achieve on what is right for her according to her. Be it with parenting or anything else, it should always work this way.

Enough about Mika, let’s talk a little about me.

I am no way near Mika and her family’s luxury. I take public transportation and live in a decent house. I make money by telling stories to people like you about the product that I am selling. And for that reason I know for a fact that if I treat you the same way as how Mika’s parents treat her, my product wouldn’t be anywhere near your intention to use it.

As anyone who is working in the field of UX, be centered at what’s right for your users. In other words, don’t lean on too much towards your gut feeling, but be more data-driven. Do a lot of research; interview users or take them for a coffee to get that casual (and truthful) conversation flowing. Also, be mathematical and learn how to gather insights using numbers. I know it may be exhausting at times — I mean who likes numbers?! — but once you get the hang of it, it is useful at its extreme level, trust me!

Related article: Does UX relate with copywriting? Sure it does! And here’s why.

A scenario where numbers become insightful is when you conduct quantitative research (usually to a massive amount of users), either that is through a simple survey or testings of various different variables. For instance, you’d like to know how to attract users with your homepage app banners. Ask yourself these questions first: should they be positioned at the top, middle, or bottom? Should the banners be driven by visuals or copy? Should they be shown in square, triangular, or circular shapes? One way to be accurate is by trying every possibility and determine what works more based on click-through rates. Here are the steps:

Step #1: break down all elements

Based on the above questions, to sum it up, there are 8 elements that you need to test to your users:

  1. Top position
  2. Middle position
  3. Bottom position
  4. Visual-driven banner
  5. Copy-driven banner
  6. Square-shaped banner
  7. Triangular-shaped banner
  8. Circular-shaped banner

Step #2: sort elements into categories

Sort the elements into categories. Out of 8 elements, simplify them into three categories: 1) position, 2) style, 3) shape. And make sure you give it a week to test each category because by then you would have given enough time for users to experience the app. But why shouldn’t they all just be directly tested on the same week? Because in order to test category 2, you need the results of category 1 in advance, and so it goes before testing category 3 you would need the results of category 2.

Step #3: group your audience

Your next question should be: to how many users should I test them? Split your audience into groups. Let’s say if the amount of your app users is 900, divide them based on how many elements you’d like to test (do the math: 900 / 3 for category 1, 900 / 2 for category 2, then another 900 / 3 for category 3).

On week 1, there should be 300 users to be tested for each position. On week 2, there should be 450 for each style. On week 3, there should be 300 for each shape. Here’s an illustration on how to organize your research plan:

Always document your research findings.
Example of group 1. Only the banner position that’s different, there rest is the same.

Step #4: document the findings and bring them to reality

As you may have noticed from the above table, always document your findings after you have done your research. This could either be on a spreadsheet or slides, it’s up to you. Learn carefully from what you’ve discovered and ensure your actions onwards align the result. I would say it is absolutely pointless if, for example, your result proves that top banner gained the highest click-through rates and most people clicked on copy-driven shaped ones, however, you show otherwise.

Step #5: don’t get bored with research

I think the subheading explains it all. Be observant to the dynamics of your audience behaviors. Especially when the amount of users has increased, constantly make sure your content is relevant. Or if you are curious of trying a new design on your app, don’t judge what’s right for the users entirely based on your instinct. Balance your intuition, the common practices (basically what’s right and wrong) with research data. There are a lot more other research methods that you can try besides interviews, surveys, and multiple testings such as the above.

Related article: Dive into other common practices, continue reading about how to write for search engine marketing (SEM).

Now imagine if from day one, you would choose what is right for your design according to you and only you, and nothing but you (like Mika’s parents), I don’t think you would have the intention to do research. Bear in mind that a great design is driven by what is perceived as “great” by the users. Good luck!

Thanks for reading!

Read more interesting stories about UX and storytelling on edwinmohammad.com

GO-JEK Design #BehindTheScreens

We aim to help making people’s life better through design and technology.

Edwin Mohammad

Written by

Designer | Copy hooligan @ Blibli.com (previously Gojek & Traveloka)

GO-JEK Design #BehindTheScreens

We aim to help making people’s life better through design and technology.

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