It is essential to integrate real users during the design and development of your services and products. Despite a gain in popularity in recent years, UX design is still poorly understood, and the term often misused.

It is essential to integrate real users during the design and development of your services and products. Despite a gain in popularity in recent years, UX design is still poorly understood, and the term often misused.

Even today, many companies are embarking directly on the development of new products or services without carrying out the work necessary upstream to ensure the alignment of the concept with user expectations. Why common sense and theoretical knowledge are not enough. Sometimes these cognitive biases can work against you. IBM interviewed 23,000 executives for over ten years and found that to make decisions, they usually rely on their instincts and previous experiences, assuming they fully know their clients.

Most of the critical decisions are taken behind closed doors by the stakeholders during the upstream phases of the project, thus introducing biases. Two examples of biases frequently encountered: the effect of false consensus and the curse of knowledge. The impact of the wrong agreement tends to overestimate the degree of consensus that others have with them (in their opinions, their uses, and their habits).

Often, this bias appears in focus groups where the collective opinion is the same as that of the group’s individuals. Group members have reached internal consensus and are rarely faced with differing views, so they tend to believe that group opinion is generalized to all. The other cognitive bias, which is found very frequently, is the curse of knowledge. It becomes complex, if not almost impossible, to plan to reason like a person who does not have it by developing specific knowledge.

The risks that arise from making decisions during the design phases of a project are, therefore, significant and can lead to an overly complicated end product that is far from the consumers’ real needs. These errors were found on all types of companies and products, from hardware with Google’s Google Glass to the digital system for centralizing medical records from the British government. For the latter, the project will have lasted nine years, cost 12 billion euros in the country, and ended up being abandoned in 2011.

The Secretary of Health, Andrew Lansley, blamed the government’s failure to impose a computer system that did not meet the needs of the population, instead of integrating future users from the early stages of the project. These failures are impactful because they occur at the end of the chain after mobilizing very significant human, industrial, and financial resources. Hence the need to set up systematic test & learn approaches via a “design thinking” approach: observe -> analyze -> propose -> test -> improve.

Failure then becomes a stage of improvement rather than an industrial disaster. Thus, companies for which user research is a prerequisite and adopt these test & learn approaches often avoid these errors.

The best-known example is the $ 300 million CTA from 1-click purchase. Thanks to interviews and user tests, Amazon teams were able to understand the need to review the purchase tunnel experience to avoid losses during the validation of users of their baskets. Indeed, the tests led to show that the simple step of connection (enter your email & password then click on “validate”) interrupted the purchasing process of users with their full baskets and wishing to finalize their orders directly.

Choose the right methods and apply them correctly. Each type of project and each phase of the project correspond to particular testing methods. Here are some recommended “best practices” to use:

Interview the right people: Each individual has characteristics (history, appetites, habits, etc.) that are unique to them, and therefore will not have the same experience as their neighbor. Thus, the selection of suitable profiles will be decisive in the quality and relevance of the returns collected. Here are tips to guide you with this choice: The first step is defining the research or test subject, which will identify a specific target. Once this target has been identified, all means of contact must be used to reach it.

Customer support is a close and abundant source of potential testers that is often overlooked. Social networks can also be an excellent way to recruit and even serve as a tool to federate a panel of testers. This method has a double advantage: time savings (once the community is created, no need to recruit again) and testers who can ultimately become ambassadors. Radio France, for example, maintains a Facebook group of testers for its mobile application. The target may be particular and requires the use of specific contact channels.

If the product to be tested is a business tool, this article gives advice for carrying out B2B user research. Once a first list is established, and before launching, it is advisable to filter the testers. Often a pre-validation questionnaire is sufficient to ensure consistency with the target before starting.

We can illustrate this approach of choosing respondents with a project led by our team with a client during a complete overhaul of its digital ecosystem and its working methods. The objective was to rethink the profession of real estate agent through the digital lens and optimize the customer experience to get back on the market and assume the leader’s position.

After carrying out a full audit of the organization and its processes, we highlighted the various structuring engines/brakes for the redesign. A panel of testers was set up with a research firm from the upstream phases of the project. This panel was questioned throughout the process to report feedback in real-time and measure changes in making decisions.

Highlight flaws not perceived by project teams: Support change management decisions and the improvement of services offered in agencies through concrete feedback from prospects. This methodology will have made it possible to obtain very rapidly convincing results. A few weeks after the new digital services were put online, the client recorded + 25% lead intake.

Apply the right research method and make your data speak. There are many user research methods. This ranges from online questionnaires to focus groups, including A / B testing or usability tests, etc. A survey is often appropriate for collecting opinion-based data, but will not be suitable for testing interactions with an interface.

Observe rather than listen to your users. A widespread mistake is to simply listen to users’ responses to research to the letter. Already in 2001, Jakob Nielsen, the benchmark in UX design, declared that the first usability rule was “not to listen to your users”. It is assumed that people will most often tell you what they think you want to hear, not what they believe themselves.

Many companies, when they begin to adopt a user-centered design approach, base their decisions on feedback obtained from biased research methods. A typical example is creating several versions of the same web page, showing them to a group of users, and asking them to choose the one they prefer. The risk is that the comments collected during this test will only be based on the product’s superficial characteristics.

Users’ impressions of an interface will often be very far from experience felt during actual use without them being able to interact with it. Companies that observe their users interacting with their product can successfully identify problems that a user will not necessarily report themselves or that analytics will not be able to understand. As was the case for the Amazon teams, who, thanks to tests with real users, understood the blocking point in their purchasing journey.

Conclusion: Whether intentionally or not, a product is always tested. Each time a person uses a service, they form an opinion, and a negative experience is, unfortunately, much more significant than a positive one. The great advantage of user research is reducing the risk of putting a service online that does not correspond to users’ uses and expectations.

It is by interviewing real testers that you will be able to stay aligned with needs and uses and thus avoid often costly development errors. Correcting a problem once development has started will have a significant economic impact. The feedback shows that this is valued at a cost ten times higher than the amount that a correction would have cost during the design phase. This cost increases to a hundred times the initial sum once the product is live (Gilb principles). An unnecessary risk, especially when you know that 85% of usability problems can be discovered with only 5 testers. We combine our UX & Data expertise to help brands develop the most successful customer experiences. User research and tests are at the heart of our approach, from setting up a panel with our panelist partners to running user test sessions. The particularity of our process, each of our UX projects, is systematically accompanied by a data study to enrich the qualitative lessons with quantitative data. Interested? In this particular context of remote work, your sites can continue to move forward and rely on specific solutions to ensure the success of your projects, online user tests (User testing), and consumer behavior.

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