User research for Yoop
Entrepreneur Mattia Fosci was concerned about issues such as fake news, media bias and content bubbles and wanted to improve the way people engaged with online content. He asked Fowlam to provide expert advice and user research to feed into the development, testing and launch of an entirely new app that would provide a platform for users to rate and find content. Because the concept of the app was entirely different from anything already available, a lot of work was required to bring the idea to users in a usable, attractive product.
There was a core idea, but the concept needed to be developed into a viable product. Working with Mattia and his team, we broke down the various elements of the idea to understand what the product needed to do and how users would engage with it. Using an iterative design process, we developed and tested various aspects of the product, gradually expanding and improving the design to create a product that was ready for private beta testing.
Validating the value proposition
Initially, the team discussed what the purpose of the product was and who the audience would be. As with many products, these were not simple questions to answer and required an in-depth breakdown of what the product would offer and who would engage with it. The aim was to ensure that the overall vision was translated into a viable, marketable product.
As a first step, Fowlam worked with the Yoop team to define the product’s value proposition and target market. Clarity on the problem faced by target users helped deconstruct and then improve the original idea. Fowlam helped to test assumptions about user needs and behaviours through face to face surveys and interviews. This research was key as it indicated what aspects of the idea were effective and what needed to change before time and effort was put into development.
Improving the product
Yoop then developed a Minimum Viable Product and Fowlam carried out a series of focus groups with the target audience. While the focus groups gave us valuable quantitative data on the aspects of the design that allowed users to complete tasks, the more important information they gave us was qualitative as they allowed us to see the reactions of users who were completely new to the product to get that all-important feel for the value and viability of the concept.
One of the key aspects of the design was a set of buttons that allowed users to express an opinion about content. Initially the app used a particular set of rating buttons, but user testing showed that the range of buttons was too restrictive and that users didn’t entirely understand what each rating meant. These were extremely valuable insights as without an effective way to rate content, the product could not be a success. Over the following months we discussed and tested a number of other ideas using focus groups, online polls and surveys to find out how users interacted with them. Over time we refined the rating buttons and Yoop developers began to build a prototype for beta testing.
We initially tested Yoop with a small group of users, keeping in contact with them over social media and using questions and polls to get feedback on attitudes and usability issues. This feedback was very valuable and, combined with analytics data, we were able to identify aspects of the app that were effective and aspects that needed to change. For example, we could see that one particular rating was confusing to users as it was being used inconsistently and irregularly so we tested a few options and replaced it with something more effective.
Including user research early in the process of building a startup can make a huge amount of difference to the success of the business, not just because it helps to ensure the development of a usable, attractive product, but also because the process requires a thorough knowledge and evaluation of all of the principles and assumptions that the company is being built upon. If there is a fundamental flaw in any part of the company’s basic proposition, the research will identify it, long before money has been spent on an idea that just won’t work.
If you have an idea or concept that you want to develop into a marketable, viable product, contact us. Fowlam can provide the full range of user research and UX design services necessary to ensure you are meeting a market need and providing a product that your users will love.