The research stage provides the foundation upon which all design is made. It is critical to develop a customer focus but is also important to identify all parties and circumstances involved into the project.
We make sure to offer products and services that the customer actually needs. We justify our assumptions collecting the real data from the customer. How do we get that data?
5 questions to answer: Who, What, Where, Why, and When
Identify the basic characteristics of our customers and major differentiators. It is good to establish precise metrics and get a quantitative evaluation of customer groups.
Tools: online demographics, analytical reports, customer surveys, Google Analytics, etc.
What are their needs and pains? What problems do they have? How do they interact with the current system? Explore and prioritize customer needs.
Tools: customer surveys, focus groups, user interviews, social media, online discussions, etc.
Observe the customer in the real context. Understand how do they interact with an existing system and what affects their workflow.
Tools: contextual inquiry, work sessions, expert interviews
What motivates them and trigger their decisions? What lies behind their needs? What expectations do they have? Compare on strategy canvas.
Tools: surveys, focus groups, contextual inquiry
How can we reach out to the customer, intervene their experience, and offer a solution or a product? We are looking for the touchpoints.
Tools: work sessions
How successful are their business models? What industry or user problems do they address?
We get insights gathering data online, using and testing their products, participating in community discussions, or diving into the company culture on Glassdoor. We compare the data using business canvas models or SWOT analysis. We learn from their experience.
Identify major forces that affect customer experience and business. How do current technology and trends affect them?
We place customers into the context of industry forces and explore how the current system work.
We also look for the similar problems and solutions across different industries.
How can we simplify the process? How can we manage trade-offs yet keep the solution valuable for the customer?
Consider development costs, keep the solution modular and reusable, invite the development team on the earliest stages of the product planning.
We collected customer needs, habits, behavioral characteristics, etc. We also observed our customer within the real life environment. Now it is time to summarize our observations and present them to the rest of our team in a concise and digestible way.
Persona is a good starting point. We identify types of our customers and apply personal qualities to clarify who exactly we are dealing with.
Persona, later on, undertakes a journey, the steps your customer go through in engaging with your company. Customer journey visualizes the very moments then we can reach out to the customers and address their needs.
In the end of the research phase, we prioritized user needs, mapped them on user journey, understood context and development limitations.
It is a rough model that explains how our product will work and what user problem it solves. We collect all the concept we can create, discuss, and prioritize them. In the end, we will have just a couple of concepts to test.
Some of them are easy to implement others have good supporters within the team. Which one to pursue?
That short step aside of the major process can save a company a lot of money and development effort. We evaluate our ideas creating rapid prototypes and testing them with the real users before strategic decisions are taken.
We follow goldilocks rules. The prototype has to be real enough for the customers to be actually involved in the testing. But it has to be a lightweight solution to test only most important and critical features. On that stage, we develop a lightweight prototype that would mimic the real product experience.
Now we can observe the customer using our prototypes. If we cannot invite the actual customer for the worksessions we can collect analyics data on customer behavior.
The insights are invaluable. In the end of the evaluation, we will have only one solution to pursue. From that point, we can spend more time and effort in the direction which is already proved successful.
At this stage, we elaborate on our designs and deliver design documentation that covers all the aspects of the future product: storyboards, user flows, information architecture, interaction model, interface design, and visual treatment.
Dramatic shift towards mobile experience happened during the latest years. Desktop applications become extensions of mobile devices. That affects product design, development, and management.
The challenges of mobile design:
- Limited mobile screen real estate.
- Keep it simple yet functional and productive. One screen - one task.
- The application response time is critical. Acceptable waiting time is very short.
Depicts user interactions with the system step by step from the beginning to the end. It reflects application logic and business rules. User flow lies at the core of the future prototype development and functional design document.
The principal concept that binds an application together and defines the patterns and logic in which customers communicate with the product prior to and following the purchase. An interaction model covers the holistic customer experience across all delivery channels. It creates a hierarchy, meaning, and focus. Interaction model makes user experience predictable and intuitive across all delivery channels.
Now we develop a full-functional prototype. We design, test, and iterate. We communicate our solution visually and functionally across different teams (business, management, analytics, design, and development), apply changes on the go, and track versions.
We use Axure prototype to design page layouts, refine flows, and stitch the application together. We utilize Origami.design for the specific mobile interactions. The InvisionApp serves visual treatment.
The budget and the time frame dictates how much testing we can afford.
The key to the success is the access to the actual customer. Ethn.io and UserZoom give a great opportunity to build specific targets but the best audience to test is your own customers.
Google Analytics or MouseFlow heatmaps provides as with insights on user behavior and preferences.
The most cheap and affordable type of research data.
Provides reliable and unbiased results
Our user experience team delivers both, front-end design and code. For the organization, it usually saves time and effort. We deliver front-end following prototype and design document guidelines, incorporate the best interaction solutions, and test them on the go.
We continue tracking analytics data, user behavior, and improve the experience accordingly.