Brand Design

Use Research to Give Your Product the UX Factor (in 4 Steps)

By Andy Clowes 1 June 2018

Welcome to the second instalment of our 3-part blog series on UX, where we focus on the fundamentals of UX design and how UX can impact the customer experience. (Catch up with part one here.)

As we explored last time, UX is about more than just aesthetics and making your product, website, or app pretty. It’s a holistic approach that encompasses design, usability, accessibility and more.

To deliver the best possible user experience, you therefore need to understand all the components of good UX – as well as your customer’s wants, needs and frustrations. This involves conducting thorough research. Then you have to turn that research into action, and ensure those actions translate into a compelling UX.

These 4 steps show you how.

Step 1: Understand users and their basic needs

There are so many different aspects of UX that it can be hard to know where to start. Thankfully, decades of experience and research have given us a robust framework: the usability trinity.

The usability trinity should be the starting point of any UX project. It’s made up of the following 3 elements:

  • User: Who is your product or service for?
  • Goal: What will the user gain from your product or service?
  • Environment: Where will the user use your product or service?

Answering these 3 questions will give you a solid starting point. After all, the UX for a mobile app aimed at millennial women is going to be different to the UX for an instruction manual aimed at middle-aged men.

Step 2: Conduct your user research

Once you’ve identified the basic needs, you can move into the evidence-gathering stage. When conducting user research, it’s important to understand the 2 types – quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative research gives numerical data you can use to understand user behaviour. This can include things like task time, error rates, demographics and conversion rates. It works best for large sample sizes and gives insight into your users – but remember, it can’t answer the ‘why’ questions, nor can it reveal users’ main needs or pains.

Qualitative research records experiences. It provides you with observations you can use to analyse user behaviour and answer questions about their needs, problems and motivations. When conducting qualitative research, you may be tempted to ask questions, for example by sending out a user experience survey. While this can be useful, most people don’t have a clear understanding of their own requirements and actions. Instead, you should observe user behaviour and analyse the reality of what you see, rather than what users tell you.

The best user research combines these 2 methods to build an overarching picture of who customers are and what they need.

Step 3: Use the Research

Once you have the research, it’s time to put it to good use. This is where the usability trinity comes back into play – we adapt the model to help us take concrete, valuable action.

The User part of the trinity evolves into the Persona. A Persona is an avatar that represents a user type, and the process involves building a thorough profile beyond basic demographics. When building a Persona, think about pain points, drivers, background and goals, for example:

The Goal element of the trinity becomes Red Routes. Important roads in London are known as red routes, and Transport for London do everything in their power to make sure passenger journeys on these routes are completed as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

Use your knowledge of what your users want and need to identify your Red Routes, and then highlight any usability obstacles that your persona might come up against.

Finally, turn your Environment into User Stories. With your research, you can create thorough user stories encompassing your UX, using the following formula:

Step 4: Combine user experience and customer experience

Designing a perfect UX is great and is the first hurdle in building your customer base. But it doesn’t matter how great your UX is if your customer experience (CX) later on in the journey isn’t as good. You’ll end up in a position where you fail to convert and/or retain the customers you’ve attracted.

You can have the most beautiful, easiest-to-use website in the world, but if you can’t deliver the product in a time-efficient manner, or if your customer service doesn’t make people feel valued, you’re not going to succeed.

Remember: always think of UX in the context of the wider CX. Otherwise, all your hard work and research will be wasted.

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See other posts by Andy Clowes

Head of Design and UI/UX

As Head of Design & UX/UI for Engage Hub, Andy has over 17 years’ experience across blue-chip organisations; from technology and financial services to automotive and consumer-lead industries. Being Prince2 certified & following ISO 9241 principles, Andy is a specialist in brand management, research-driven UX design and delivering creative, yet native, digital solutions for customers.

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