Even though throughout the history all serious businesses cared about how users were experiencing their product, definition of UX is relatively new and it is continuously changed. One you can find on Wikipedia for example states that ‘User Experience (UX) involves a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system or service.’
These are the basics, of course, on which most of us would agree. Disagreements start with defining the process, its parts and how these should be practically approached. Namely, while developing product UX designers are supposed to have in mind that UX takes cycles of researching, conceptualizing, actually designing and validating that design, as well as analyzing the information gathered throughout the process.
So, it is possible that we will not agree on all the phases one should undergo in developing product with good UX (or more likely, how these activities should be conducted). But, if we are on the same page in considering products as meant for users and satisfaction of their needs, then one should be absolutely indisputable. We are talking about user research, of course.
Namely, if we agree that users are playing great role in process of finding out what products are supposed to represent, user research is not something we would likely skip. The smartest decision one can make for the starter, actually. Insight in users needs and possible expectations saves both time and money. It also gives us the possibility for validation of ideas and puts some directions for future developing of the product.
Still, we should be careful with our expectations for the research and aware what we will actually get out of it.
Users are not there to make decisions for you
During research you will come up with some information for which you have to check out if they are in line with assumptions you had about users needs. Be careful not to think of this information as definite guidelines for implementation of specific design decisions. They are here to help you understand if you are on the right track. And to analyze them.
‘NO’ is the answer you want
People are much better in recognizing what bothers them than what would satisfy them. Phrase ‘I don’t know what I want but I know it’s not this’ is pretty applicable when it comes to regular users. This is also why you shouldn’t expect that research will help you come up with some astonishing understandings or ideas for great innovations. Chances are you’ll end up with many insights you were already aware of, but weren’t completely sure about. Still, these insights are priceless, because they mean you are making something people actually need.
When you decide to conduct research, be aware whichever technique you choose, some drawbacks are to be expected. Namely, lab obviously is not the most natural environment for human users (or mice for that matter). It is cold and kind of detached from reality. But, it also enables people to fully concentrate on the product. On the other hand, user interviews are more natural in sense of a real human contact. The problem here is that users are always at least slightly distracted by the interviewer, and they can even be influenced to agree on something they wouldn’t if there wasn’t for persuasive questions.
Keep these in mind and start with user research as soon as you can.
We strongly believe in importance of usability testing. This is why we are dedicated developers of KonceptApp – pioneering type of service for usability testing in pre-development stage. What about you? Do you think there is an adequate substitute for user testing?