What is user research?
User experience (UX) is a term that encompasses a wide range of concepts, the foremost of which is the idea that you should design a product to give your user, your customer, the best experience possible. That means that the product should do exactly what it’s supposed to do, in a way that the user expects, while also being aesthetically pleasing and fun/interesting/enjoyable to use. User research is the foundation of UX, providing the insights and knowledge that allow you to deliver the experience your users want and need.
For a product to fail, it doesn’t have to be awful or weird or unusable. It just needs to be bad enough that people start to associate you with frustration, annoyance and disappointment – negative feelings that linger for a long time after the bad experience has ended. Even for trusted brands, relatively small mistakes – such as the too-small keyboard in the Apple iOS7 update – can anger customers and undermine confidence in the brand. Massive companies like Apple can learn from their mistakes and recover, but for smaller companies, one frustrating experience can be all it takes to ensure customers never use your product again. Rectifying mistakes can be extremely costly, and with customers already lost, the potential for failure is high
How can user research help?
The aim of user research is to ensure that the user is included in the design process of every product, website, app and customer service procedure right from the very start, because the user is focused on one thing – doing what they intended to do. They haven’t seen the process of developing the idea and they have no investment in its success – if it doesn’t work they will say that very clearly and they will often have excellent suggestions on how to make it better.
Not including the user means that decisions about design, such as where to put a specific button, or how high to place a feature, are either made in a void, or by experts who have no insight into what it’s like to use the product for the very first time. It’s a lottery – the decision may be perfect, or it may mean that when the customer uses the product they are totally flummoxed and irritated.
Including the user means that you have real-time, first-hand insight into how well your product works and you have the opportunity to rectify mistakes before you go to market. It can save you enormous amounts of time and effort, as well as helping to ensure that your reputation isn’t damaged by a product that doesn’t quite work as it should.
Fowlam’s consultants have extensive experience of using UX methods to test and develop a huge range of products, processes and systems. We also use our wide range of other skills to ensure that the insights of our UX research are of maximum benefit to your company. If you would like to give your company a huge advantage in the market, contact us to find out how we can make it happen.