In order to make products which are exceptional for their usability and therefore loved by users, some serious series of steps must be undergone. The most fundamental one by far is: user research.
There are so many opinions out there on how and when user research is to be done. Important to notice here is that user research is as much ‘logical’ as it is ‘chronological’ base of your design process. Meaning: it’s not just that every design process is supposed to start by good research, but also that the whole process lack sense without it.
Good way to understand this is to try to imagine your design process as a building of a house:
Build a firm base first
In this ‘reconstruction area’ setting, user research would be a foundation of your house. Obviously, it is better not to start making it without its base. This is if you want your building to stand still, I mean. User research techniques appropriate here are:
- User interviews and surveys for a starter.
- Some desk research for universal treats and potential behaviours of your targeted users is also very welcomed.
- Creation of your user persona, based on that representative bunch of information you already gathered. (Empathy maps may be helpful at this point.)
Once you’re done with foundation, you should be able to say how actual users (not fictional or wanted ones) would interact with your product.
Make sure you’re building is strong
Let us continue with this building metaphor: user research doesn’t only secure firm foundations. Actually, it also provides armature material for the building reinforcement. So, if you want to assure the safe growth of your construction, it is pretty useful to keep conducting user research throughout the whole design process. Meaning, this is where you should simultaneously develop your idea and check users opinion on it. Depending on the phase and resource you can choose:
- paper sketches
- prototypes (low ones, or if it is anyhow possible – high-fidelity and interactive ones) So, during this phase you’re coming closer to your MVP and you should pay special attention on its usability. it is always good to test if users understand your product, how they interact with it and if they are able to perform tasks you want them to while interacting with your music app, e.g.
Don’t forget about fine works and regular reconstructions
Once the rough part of building the house is done, it doesn’t mean one should just leave it like that. It is still nice to have some facade and the fence e.g. Also, it is good to check these from time to time and see if there is a need for some renovations. Same goes for the products. Even when your design is fully developed, you should never really stop optimizing it. Meaning, you should never stop researching if people still find your product to be good in satisfying their needs, feelings and motivations. Usability tests are in charge for finding out if the signup process on your ecommerce website makes people irritated enough not to finish purchasings they already started, e.g.
Designer’s, as well as mason’s job is not finished once their products are out there on the market. Constant improvement is necessary part of each and every successful product lifecycle.
The thing is, user research can be, and is welcomed to be, performed from the very beginning and throughout the whole designing process. As well as there is no ‘too early’ when it comes to user research, ‘too often’ also is not applicable.
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?