We’re not doubting that your team is smart and fully capable of strong product design, or that your ideas are sound. But isn’t the goal to deliver a product that solves a problem for the customer?
User research is the best way to know how your customers will respond to your product and to understand if what you’re building is solving the right problems in the right ways. UX Research inherently keeps the customer front and center throughout the design and development process. Without it, your team is designing based on their own perspective, and though smart and capable, they are not your users.
TL;DR: Without user research, you’re wasting time, which means you’re wasting money:
- It’s the surest way to understand the customer needs and pain points you are hoping to solve before you invest more resources.
- One extremely helpful form of research, User Testing, helps you course correct early before syncing valuable time and money into developing features your customers will hate.
- It can even double results for your business (check out the Samsung TV case study below).
Life without User Research
Picture this: you have been tasked with a re-design of an outdated app on a tight budget. You’ve assembled a strong team, you have a solid roadmap, and the target market and value proposition are defined. Your new design is intuitive and ready for market. Or so you think.
To save time and money, you skipped user research during Discovery, and user testing would likely cause you to miss a stakeholder’s deadline. Your team is full of intelligent people and your plans were well thought out so you’re feeling good about launching the redesigned app, right? No. You’re moving too fast.
We’ve seen this mistake many times. We often remind clients,“You are not the user!” Without building user research into your UX process, you’re likely basing your designs on:
- Unconscious or conscious bias - Just because something looks clear to the product team, doesn’t mean it will be clear to the user (or vice versa). Your team is too close to the project to deliver a completely unbiased opinion about the customer experience.
- The WRONG information - You may have clearly defined personas, but until you talk with or, better yet, test with real users, you can’t know for certain that you're designing using accurate assumptions. The world today moves quickly and information becomes outdated faster than you think.
Life with User Research
Designing with user research data in mind is much more efficient than designing without it. These findings take the guesswork out of Design. One of the most important benefits of user research is that it helps you narrow your focus:
- Consumer Insights
- User testing
- Telemetry Data
Benefits: you’ll establish actionable insights to improve your product.
User research ensures you have clarity and confidence throughout your project. When you conduct user research the right way, here’s what you’ll know (instead of assume).
Questions User Research answers:
What do my customers think/feel/believe about the problem we’re trying to solve?
You already know what we’re going to say here: without asking this question, you’re simply guessing the thoughts of your consumers. Why guess, when you can know?
Empathy is at the root of great design. (Hear J Cornelius and guest Candice Faul discuss human-first strategies to better your team and, ultimately, your products in this podcast: “Your Team’s Efficiency Depends on Empathy”).
And let’s be real: we all preach empathy but don’t always apply it effectively.
You need to be able to put yourself in your client’s shoes. Accurate answers to this first question can impact even the smallest details of your product, like how a certain font might impact the consumer’s mood and overall experience with your app.
How do your customers make purchasing decisions and how much time and money could your product save them?
- What is your customer’s state of mind, or where are they when they are using your product?
- What consumer Pain Points are you addressing with your product or service?
We love this question. Knowing the biggest challenges your consumer faces on a day-to-day basis is some of the most valuable information when it comes to crafting target personas and leveraging value propositions.
How Samsung Doubled TV Market Share: Turning User Research into Action
If you’re still not sure about user research by now, this might be because you’re not able to translate your research into actionable results. Here’s a quick case study on how Samsung did this with major results for shareholders:
In 2005, Samsung and their strategy consultants at ReD Associates visited homes around the country to observe the way consumers used, thought about, and displayed their TV sets.
Surprisingly, Samsung found that the majority of users thought of their television as a piece of furniture rather than an electronic. Think back to those TV cabinets that you had growing up to hide the massive big-screen TVs.
The research team noticed that people were hiding their TVs rather than displaying them proudly. With this new insight, Samsung shifted to adopt a sleeker minimalistic design that would easily blend into a “home”.
What Samsung’s design team did right:
Samsung researched how consumers used their products in real life and were presented with a product perception that they were previously unaware of: the TV was seen as something to hide.
By considering how people felt about the product and shifting their product positioning from a “showroom” product to one for the “home”, they became more relevant to consumers.
Between 2006 and 2007, Samsung more than doubled their LCD TV sales and expanded its market share from 14% to 18%.
Making the Most of User Research
No matter where you are in the design process, it’s never too early or too late to conduct user research. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some of the ways Nine Labs can help:
We have a series of workshops that will help you better understand your customers, find your product position, test your designs or finished product with real users, and create the ideal Customer Journey.
UX Discovery Session
Need help knowing what Customer Insights you may be missing? Our UX Discovery Sessions can be delivered in a half-day or full-day. We’ll use that time to discuss your project goals, technology, documentation, and resources to understand what research and activities you’ll need to bring your product to life, the right way.
Increase customer satisfaction and eliminate bias with user testing. Moderated User Testing provides the opportunity to observe how customers use your app, and ask in-depth and open-ended questions about their experience. Unmoderated testing quickly collects data from a larger number of users, accessing your app or prototypes on their own time. Nine Labs will manage product or prototype user tests or workflow exercises with your target demographic, analyze findings, and recommend updates to better meet customer needs.
Each test is specifically designed to validate assumptions, test your hypothesis, or pinpoint issues where people get stuck, confused, or simply give up.
Not sure where to start, or what type of research is best for your project? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat.
How can we help your company use great design to achieve its business goals?
Whatever you’re building, our workshops and project engagements can help you do it better. Reach out to discuss your project or request a quote.