This blog is a follow up from Sandra's previous blog on Human Centred Design, read it here
Accelerating digital engagement
Life has become increasingly digital during the past few years and the trends indicate that it will continue to do so.
We’ve all seen shifts in the way key services are provided. Ranging from education, right through to grocery shopping or even a visit to the GP, we are now expecting these services to be offered in an increasingly digitised and easy to consume way.
We are seeing organisations shift from traditional ‘direct-to-customer’ strategies to ‘digital-first’ self-service solutions which are truly intuitive with the user at the heart.
Keeping pace with change
User research has never been more important. Designing intuitive digital interactions with consumers at the heart requires effective user research to fully understand the relationship between the end user, digital platform and provision of the product or service.
“People also have personalities. Not only do they have personalities, but also have hopes, fears, dreams and aspirations. These are liable to affect the way that people respond to and interact with products.” 1
User research informs the product/service design team about people’s motivations, reasons and satisfaction drivers to using a particular digital service.
Through user research, businesses can understand the many direct and indirect touchpoints and benefits that a digital interaction can have.
Unlocking user insights
Before a product or service is developed, our user researchers engage with the target audience and potentially related user groups in the discovery phase of a project. The gathered data will provide a full understanding of the pain points need to be tackled, the problems that could arise, and which initial concepts and frameworks should be developed.
We see that projects that engage user research from the start, typically create better insights and solution experience. There are still significant benefits to be realised engaging user research throughout the mid and latter stages of a project. For example prototype testing, usability and user satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the digital service.
“Customers have come to expect products to be easy to use; usability has moved from being what marketing professionals call a ‘satisfier’ to being a ‘dissatisfier’. In other words, people are no longer pleasantly surprised when a product is usable, but are unpleasantly surprised by difficulty in use.” 2
Staying ahead of the game
Not only are we seeing HCD and user research increasingly used for consumer products and services, we’re seeing an evolution in the tools that user researchers are exploiting.
Digital communication platforms, video calls, and digital white boards equip the user researcher with a whole new set of tools to uncover insights through voice, facial expressions, and hand gestures. Probe tools (which are sent to users) support direct user feedback as well.
User research should no longer be an afterthought for organisations; it has become an essential component in better understanding, and therefore serving, consumers and employees.
If your digital service dissatisfies your target audience, they might just switch off and not return. User research has never been more important.
If you’d like to talk more about your businesses user research methods, or would like a chat around user research more generally, please get in touch.
You can read my blog explaining what Human Centered Design (HCD) is, and how it can benefit businesses here.
1 - Patrick W. Joardan, Designing Pleasurable Products (London: Taylor&Francis, 2002), p. 7
2 - Patrick W. Joardan, Designing Pleasurable Products (London: Taylor&Francis, 2002), p. 3