Traditionally, customer feedback is collected in a face-to-face manner, be it usability studies, focus groups, or one-one interviews: Users come to on-campus facilities or off-site local 3rd party labs to be interviewed. The advantage of interviewing users locally is obvious: You get to observe their behavior in person, including body language, and you get to discuss with your stakeholders who are sitting in the observation room about additional questions they’d like to ask the participants.
Limitation of In-Person Interviews
Despite the numerous benefits, there’re a few issues associated with interviewing only local users: Continue reading
There are two main approaches of validating your products to see if they perform as expected and identify areas for improvements. One is user experience research, which includes usability studies as well as other forms of user interview methods, gathering user feedback through asking user questions, surveys, and direct observation of user behavior.
The other is A/B testing, also called “launch and learn”, through which we randomly present different versions of the launched product to different users and observe the differences in the resulted Web, mobile, and business metrics.
Given that both approaches are talked a lot about, based on what I’ve seen among clients I helped, there’s much confusion around choosing between the two approaches: Do we need to use both methods? Can we just do A/B testing and forget about user research? If we need to do both, then when do we use each method? Continue reading
Here’s a question that I often encounter when helping companies conduct user research: Designers, product managers, and sometimes front-end developers will come to me and say: We’ll do some guerrilla/DIY user research to validate this design idea.
Just in case you mistake this for Chairman Mao’s Guerrilla Warfare — guerrilla user research refers to informal, small-scale, on-the-fly user research, typically conducted by non-UX-professionals to validate product design.
It’s a big part of the so-called lean UX process, an approach that has gained much popularity with the advent the lean start-up movement. Continue reading
When it comes to the all-important issue, listening to user/customer feedback, the first thing that comes to mind for many is focus group or survey. The tendency is so persistent that even when I conducted usability studies, the stakeholders, typically product managers and business owners, kept referring to the exercise as “focus group” or “survey”!
On the other hand, designers and programmers trust usability testing much more and don’t see or understand value of focus groups and surveys.
So, what are the differences between the three and when should we apply each technique? Continue reading
We all want to collect customer feedback, right? Then you might have heard of market research and user research, methods that allow you to systematically gather and analyze customer feedback. But then again, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between the two?
For most of you, I guess, you couldn’t care less about the nomenclature as long as you get the customer insight you want. However, in the corporate world, these two functions do belong to separate departments and, as such, you do need to know which one you should turn to if you seek their help. Even if you hire independent consultants or do it by yourself, a basic understanding of the two approaches would help you get high quality customer feedback.
Market Research — Focusing on Monetization
Most of us working on product development know the importance of getting user feedback, but how can we effectively drive actions based on user feedback? That’s the question.
One of the key questions I heard people asking is: How many users should we talk to?
The answer is, of course, it depends.
To Improve Usability, Interview as Few as Five Users Would Do
Wow, that’s an interesting way to get the products in front of you!
Ok, I was using AVG AntiVirus FREE version to do a routine scan of my computer, and yes, no virus was found! And then, it asked me whether I wanted to analyze my computer’s performance. I thought, why not? So clicked “yes” and then saw the screen below after a few minutes.
Upon seeing this, if you were me, what would you do? Continue reading
Ever wonder the role of user experience in relation to business results? Read what the failed founder of Wasabi — the key competitor and the first mover relative to Mint.com — said about why Mint killed Wasabi:
I particularly like what the founder of Wasabi said:
“Focus on what really matters: making users happy with your product as quickly as you can, and helping them as much as you can after that. If you do those better than anyone else out there you’ll win.”
Ever wonder how to identify business areas you should improve based on customers’/users’ true needs rather than spend money on something that doesn’t matter to them? Looking at their end-to-end journey — across all touch points with your product/business — is a great way to start!
In my previous posts, I discussed why you should conduct lean UX research to induce great user experience through Agile development and how to do this. Some of you might be concerned with a lack of quality insight in lean UX research. I’ll address the concern in this post.
“Lean” Doesn’t Mean Poor Quality
In my last post, I discussed why you should conduct lean UX research in order to induce great user experience through Agile development process.
Here, I’ll explain how to conduct lean UX research in dealing with the tremendous timeline and planning pressure posed by the Agile process — that requires you to be creative and leverage alternative user research methods. Let me go through them one by one.
Conduct UX research to complement A/B tests
Given that a big part of the Agile process is test-and-learn – test here typically refers to A/B testing – we can conduct UX research to complement A/B testing. A typical way to do this is to conduct a usability study on the different variations currently being A/B tested. Given that the product is already live with the different variations, it’s very easy for us to test the product, as there’s no need to do prototyping or wireframing in preparing for the usability study.
Conducted in conjunction with A/B testing, the usability study can tell us “why” one variation is better than the other, and if a better solution outside of the variations tested exist.
At one point I was asked to conduct a usability study to evaluate the variations of a live-site A/B test in order to encourage users’ shopping behavior. Whereas the A/B test gave us some early indication of which design would fare better, I used the usability study to provide in-depth UI and content recommendations, pointing out solutions that exist outside of the four variations A/B tested. End result: combining insight from the UX research with data from the A/B test, I helped the client create an experience in which users were much more likely to go through the shopping flow, and we saw a truly dramatic lift in revenue as a result.
Agile software development process gained tremendous popularity recently, adopted by many companies to deliver high-quality products through iterative launch and testing.
In contrast to the traditional Water Fall model, in an Agile environment the design and development teams collaborate very closely and there is little step-by-step procedure or upfront planning – decisions are made and solutions are implemented on the fly, in a highly iterative and flexible manner.
However the lack of planning and lead time in the process apparently poses a major challenge to user experience research. Remember, UX research is supposed to bring a strategic perspective into software development, helping the product team understand the big picture and focus on the right things to work on based on user insights. But the making-decisions-on-the-fly mindset underlying the Agile process makes conducting UX research seemingly hard to do and unnecessary.
So here come the questions:
Is UX research even needed any more in an Agile environment?
If so, then how do we conduct UX research in this context?
The answer: Lean UX research – conducting research in a quick-but-not-dirty way.
Test-and-Learn is Not Enough – Garbage in, Garbage out
In order to see business opportunities through the lens of customer experience, it’s critical for business leaders to see customer experience through a cross-channel, end-to-end perspective. By looking at customer experience holistically through the so-called Customer Experience Ecosystem (CXE) analysis, we can quickly identify gaps and find solutions to improve customer experience.
Benefits of CXE analysis:
- Making the experience sticky
- Improving conversion/reducing drop-off
- Increasing repeat visits
- Enhancing long-term customer loyalty Continue reading
For entrepreneurs and product managers, developing new products and uncovering new markets pose great challenges, as they are in an uncharted territory with little guidance. That’s why it is particularly important to gather customer feedback to explore, validate, and improve the product vision and direction at a very early stage. However, I’ve seen many times entrepreneurs and product managers dived into UI design and coding without first evaluating the concept, the single most important step of customer validation.
Continue to read the full step-by-step guide.
In my previous posts, I discussed the four elements of user experience — how they are constructed, how they are different from one another, etc. I’d like to call this framework VADU model, because it stands for Value, Adoptability, Desirability, and Usability. Here, I’m discussing the practical application of the model in relation to business planning. The model can help companies with:
- Identify UX priorities based on business model
- Evaluating and improving UX in alignment with business
- Develop KPIs based on UX priorities
Read on: More Than Usability: The Four Elements of User Experience, Part III
© Frank Guo 2013. All rights reserved.