The New Year is upon us, and now's the time for motivation, reflection, and planning. What better time to implement some simple health checks and strategic workshops to increase productivity and team alignment?

Here are just a few simple, yet effective activities to help your team work smarter. 

Usability Testing

Time Investment: 2-5 weeks

Usability testing is a method of evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users. This type of testing is vital because it helps ensure the product or service is easy to use and intuitive for the intended audience, which greatly impacts profitability.

Usability testing helps identify problems with a product or service that may not be immediately obvious to the designers or developers. For example, a button placed in an unexpected location or labeled with confusing text could be overlooked during the design process but could cause significant frustration for users. Usability testing uncovers UI Issues before product release.

In addition to identifying specific UI issues, usability testing also provides valuable insights into how users interact with a product or service. Testing can help inform design decisions and improve the overall user experience. As another example, testing might reveal that users prefer a specific type of navigation or have difficulty completing a particular task. These findings help you update the design to make the product or service more effective.

By identifying and addressing usability problems, companies can improve the user experience which will drive conversion and customer loyalty. 

Review Your Value Proposition & Your Target Market

Time Investment: 8 hours

Early in almost every engagement, we ask our clients to tell us about their Target Market or User, and to define their Value Proposition or “Unique Selling Point”. Asking about these topics can reveal misaligned perspectives that create challenges when building and selling products.

Maybe it’s subtle differences in how they think about customer needs or misalignment on buyer vs. user expectations.  Setting aside a few hours to discuss and define your Product Positioning could save your team valuable design & development resources. 

  • First, you need to define the different market segments. Then, you separate the day-to-day users from the buyers who decide if and when to pay for your product or service. 
  • Next, you’ll want to collaborate to outline the risks, pressures, desires, and questions the users and buyers have. The result is a Target Market Map you can refer to time and again to keep stakeholders aligned throughout the product life cycle. 
  • Once the Target Market is well defined, we’ll map the tasks these people perform in their roles and their pain points when performing these tasks.
  • Next, you’ll want to document the features of your product that can help reduce or eliminate those pains, along with the benefits - or gains created - by that feature. This is your Value Proposition. Without it, you could get stuck in your perspective, which becomes a problem because you are not the user. 

To ensure your Product Team operates efficiently and follows a growth mindset, set aside a little time to understand and document what your customers need and want collectively. It's also a great team-building exercise. 

If any of this sounds a little daunting, keep in mind that Nine Labs can help

Review Your Design & Product Operations

Time Investment: 2-4 weeks

  • Dedicate a sprint to collaboratively redesign your process rather than working directly on new product features.
  • Take a look at how your product team works to make processes more efficient, improve the quality of the product itself, and improve job satisfaction.
  • Do research on your team. Ask your team members what’s painful, awkward, inefficient, or frustrating. Where does communication suffer? Are there needless redundancies? Things that frequently get missed or fall by the wayside? Are the right features being prioritized? Is everyone in alignment?
  • Set clear goals for the team in the coming year. e.g. Less time spent in meetings, fewer long email conversations, more work on roadmap features, and less on firefighting.
  • Break down silos. Bring in stakeholders and cross-functional partners who have a stake in the product but haven’t historically talked directly with your designers and developers.

Do a Thorough App Assessment

Time Investment: 2-3 Days

  • Use moderated and unmoderated usability testing to gather insights from your current and potential users. Doing so could uncover common mistakes or errors that users make and help you better understand their expectations.
  • Informed by research into human cognitive processing, be sure that your app displays information in a way that scaffolds or supports a user's cognitive functioning instead of hindering it. Make your app easier to use, and you should gain a competitive advantage. 
  • Research competitor apps. What features do they offer? What does their information architecture look like? How do they position themselves to the customer? By understanding the alternatives your users will consider, your company will have a more comprehensive view of the competitive landscape so you can make well-informed decisions. If you don’t have the bandwidth for such a project, Nine Labs can help
  • Critically evaluate your app through usability reviews to understand what it offers, what it doesn’t, and how the information is organized. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your app is the first step in making incremental improvements.
  • Use A/B testing to compare multiple iterations of your apps. The research will inevitably uncover potential improvements to your app, but you must test these changes through controlled research designs. Bringing in participants to test your app features and assessing key outcome variables will give you confidence that your roadmap includes the right updates. 

These are just some of the simple yet effective ways to quickly Level Up your Design Operations.  If you’re looking for other ways to drive efficiency and gain a competitive advantage in 2023, Nine Labs is here to help.