Strong and meaningful UX research starts with asking the right people the right questions.
Let’s dispel and update the pre-conceived notions your departments may have about users. Getting to know customers better means real user-centered design (rather than assuming what they might want).
Many startups and companies build what the company wants… and then are surprised later that customers really don’t want it (even when Marketing said they will).
The Best User Research Method
We talk to them. Past customers, current customers, potential customers, anybody you believe is part of your target audiences. We go way beyond marketing demographics and get to know them as people.
We can send our surveys but these can sometimes lack the detail that you get when you speak to someone. The hints you get from tone of voice. The ability to shift and ask a follow up question.
Developing Personas and Scenarios
If you don’t already have a set of Personas, it’s best to include this step in the UCD process. After user interviews, we create a very small group of archetypal customers based on what we learned. We give them names and pictures.
These are your customers. These are then the “real people” the business should focus on every time they are considering features or designs.
Get everybody on the same page about who customers truly are. What motivates them? What are they likely to do? What are they unlikely to do or change?
Personas help people step away from the mirror, step away from, “But my boss wants it this way,” step away from what the programmers think is fastest to build, and brings us back to the user. We use empathy to imagine these archetypal users and how they would react to the features, layouts, and other aspects of the UX.
Personas can then be built out into Scenarios. What’s Helen’s environment? Is she home on a computer? On a bus commuting? Juggling a grandchild in her arms while iPhone-ing with one hand? Is she in a noisy place or does she have privacy?
We write Scenarios to make the Personas even more realistic, looking at how they are likely to interact with your product or service.
Modeling the Customer’s Journey
Once we understand your customer, his environment, and his likely behaviors, motivators, and needs, we can create a Customer Journey Map.
This typically looks at what your customer’s experience is now, with or without your product or feature. We map out the steps he takes now and how he feels at each step. Negative emotions clue us in to where there are opportunities for you to solve problems and fix pain points. Happy emotions make us ask how we can increase the user’s delight in that moment.
Now that we see this journey, where might an additional feature or choice be an important addition to our project? Sometimes entire features and products are born when we analyze the customer’s journey.
The Research portion of the UCD process can include one or more Competitive Analyses. These are like our UX Optimization Report except instead of auditing your existing experience, we audit your competitor’s.
Our report will indicate where competitors are doing something inspiring and where want to make sure to do something rather different.
Bonus User Testing possibility: Is there someone at your company who wants to keep ripping off competitors, feeling sure that your customers want the same thing? We can send competitor’s websites and apps to User Testing. Put archetypal customers in front of your competitor and see what they really think. This might help validate or invalidate the idea that we have to do what the other guy is doing.