So you’re about to embark on a new project. Competing priorities, budget constraints, tight time lines are just reality in many cases. Have you considered yet the importance of incorporating user research within your project? As software development experts at Planet Argon, we know user research, in some form, is a critical part of the process. It should be accounted for in the project plan from the very beginning. You may be thinking That sounds great, but…
Myth #1 - User research costs a fortune
It doesn’t have to. Like anything else, there is a continuum of what you can accomplish with- and spend resources on- to conduct user research. Would we love to rent out a state-of-the-art eye tracking lab and have at it? This user-centered-obsessed designer says Hell Yes!
However, there are practical and effective ways to get some real insights about how people will interact with digital products early on, without sophisticated machines burning up your budget. In fact, there are several free and affordable tools out there that are well suited to conducting in-person or remote testing. In many cases, effective testing can be done with as little as a handful of users.
Myth #2 - User research is mysterious and complex
The type and method of user research is entirely dependent on the goals of the project, and the nature of the product. That said, here are some basic examples of useful insights:
- Give a user a defined task. Observe. Were they able to complete it successfully and how long did that take? Note the path and pain points.
- Ask a user to rate their level of satisfaction or explain their impressions of or feelings when interacting with the product.
An initial usability audit. will reveal or expand on major pain points of an existing product.
Testing early and subsequent iterations of designs with users, in small chunks along the way, can save heartache and budget later on by avoiding the need to fix hidden usability flaws.
Myth #3 - The top websites like mine have [this feature], so it must be a best practice
Possibly. It’s important to keep in mind that trends are widely adopted for various reasons. A site feature could be a purely aesthetic choice.If it compromises usability or diminishes the users’ experience, how does that benefit your users? We all want to create the very best product we possibly can; a huge component of that is knowing your users and how features will work for them.
Myth #4 - Logic can be substituted for user research
You feel like you know your customers pretty well. You know your product inside and out...so, aren’t you the expert? Well, yes and no.
To Sum It Up
We all make assumptions which are based from our personal experiences. It’s human nature, unavoidable, and not a terrible thing. What user research does for us, is help us bring in perspectives other than our own to shed light on how those assumptions play out for different types of users in different scenarios.
Designers rely on their expertise and experience as a starting point. The truly effective business solutions are those which have been targeted for and tested with users. Happy and successful users equate to loyal customers, and that’s just for good business.