In Part 1 I wrote about the importance of getting to know your users and where to look for feedback. The user research cycle varies depending on what you’re looking to achieve but the good news is there are many tools and techniques at your disposal. In this post I’ll be giving a quick introduction to testing prototypes with real people, and then assessing how your product performs once it’s in the wild.
Don’t wait to get it in front of real people
What people say vs what they actually do can often vary. Particularly when there’s a website or some copy they have to get through to achieve their goals. That’s why whenever possible try and get something testable in front of users during the design process. We develop interactive prototypes and do usability testing in a lab setting to capture as much feedback as possible before going too far down the line of writing any code. If you or anyone you know is interested in participating in user testing with us you can sign up here.
Testing prototypes with users doesn’t always have to be a massive commitment, and you can adapt the level of fidelity based on your needs. Remember, it’s better to get feedback on something sketched on a piece of paper rather than nothing. In fact, that’s sometimes the best way to get honest and direct feedback before you make anything too shiny which may deter people from being critical.
As part of your design sprint, do some group sketching of your product, narrow it down, then put it in front of people. Guerilla testing is a tried and tested technique for getting quick but useful feedback. This involves approaching about 5 people, perhaps in a coffee shop, showing them your sketches, and asking one or two simple questions which will help you validate the direction you’re going in. Don’t be shy, most people are more than happy to give you some feedback. The only incentive needed is usually a friendly intro, letting them know where you work, and that it won’t take a minute of their time. Here’s a video of how Google do it.
Assess how you did
When a project is launched, it’s not over. Alongside all the usual ways of measuring a projects performance (financial KPI’s, analytics, etc.), assess how you did by continuing to listen to your users. Engage with your frontline teams again and ask them if they’ve been getting feedback on your project. If possible, have them set up a dedicated system to tag that feedback in their email system so you can quickly access it when needed.
You should continue to prompt users to give feedback as they use the new product or service. Whether this is an email address for them to contact or a survey that goes out to them. If you collect satisfaction scores around a specific initiative, you can then benchmark that against how your company is doing as a whole. This will give you an indication of how your work specifically has made your users feel, to accompany the quantitative data. This helps you tell the whole story when reporting back on performance. It may even surface some things that you can possibly quickly change on the live product.
Now do it all over again
You’re probably seeing the picture that throughout the whole process you are creating a feedback loop with your users. Additionally, anything you learn from one project can then add to your teams overall understanding of your users. This process allows you to keep iterating on your knowledge and ultimately providing a better service for your supporters. For example, you can further develop your Personas (mentioned in my last post) from learnings which will accelerate designing for that audience in the future. You’ll know what did and didn’t work so you can quickly filter through ideas for the next project. UX research is one of those things that the more you do the effects will compound. I hope I’ve given you some ideas on how you can get started.
A refresher on some of the resources I shared previously: