The success of an application ultimately hinges on its suitability for the end user. When the customer – the owner – establishes expectations, it is prudent to examine them critically. Otherwise, we will produce a product that satisfies the customer’s specifications but is useless to the end user. And the software company will be held accountable.
How can one evade the trap?
Reducing the risk of a mismatch between the product and the target audience is dependent on the skillful organisation of regular contacts between representatives of the target audience and the product at different stages of development. Through this, communication stability and harmony can be achieved. UX Researchers can be contacted for advice regarding the interface, functionality, design, and information hierarchy. In-depth interviews, focus groups, and usability tests conducted at a later stage will dispel all doubts. How?
Effective interaction with the client
The product owner is not always aware of the consequences of his agreements with the software company. Visions for products are not always consistent, and initial assumptions do not necessarily result in positive outcomes. At this stage, UX research prevents project misunderstandings. Early prototypes, created based on information about users and the product owner’s expectations, allow both parties to dispel any doubts, possibly reach an agreement more quickly, and make changes to the order. Moreover, owing to UX research, it is possible to test a large number of functional ideas on users and select the best ones prior to programmers touching the keyboard.
User Experience research allows the design team to concentrate more on developing solutions and less on ensuring their validity. There is no need to read the user’s mind, compete for their attention, or attempt to outsmart them. On the contrary, it is best to cater to their requirements.
An unexpected source of new ideas
Participants in UX research are able to go further when they are aware of their own expectations. Consider how you will use the application in relation to your lifestyle. For instance, after speaking with respondents, a new perspective emerges from the user that:
- can utilise the application in direct sunlight, so you must select a higher contrast;
- may access the application at night, so the night mode will be useful;
- moves while using application so, you should reduce the number of screens and increase the size of the buttons.
- works under pressure, so they are easily distracted and needs a simple user interface;
- may utilise one function most frequently, so emphasise it.
- needs a quick overview of all entered data, so it scrolls through the application rather than reloading screens.
Individual in-depth interviews can yield considerable amounts of information. This is when the real problems of users’ daily lives become apparent. The stories of the respondents and descriptions of their habits are frequently an inexhaustible source of ideas and hypotheses regarding the functions of the application.
In many projects, it is challenging to organise the facts and orient the application around the user’s needs, rather than the subjective opinions of designers or the client. In business, the belief that “what is good for me will be good for others” is widespread but risky. The results of qualitative user research are more accurate and specific than intuition. They become a compass whose direction must be agreed upon by the designers, their manager, and the client of the software house.
UX research helps to identify solutions with the highest likelihood of success. Information from end-users is adequate for defining:
- a variety of application objectives,
- the problems it is intended to solve (and those that do not exist),
- a database of interaction scenarios,
- a content layout consistent with previous encounters,
- and the language to be used,
- a database of forms and hues,
- the areas that will require more focus,
- function hierarchy,
- screen sequence.
These benefits of UX research are immediately apparent. The further along the design process one is, the more user testing can be conducted. With the assistance of research data, numerous unambiguous answers can be identified, reducing the number of test rounds required. It reaches the final version more quickly.
With the preceding point, the financial burden of the project is reduced. The activities are more efficient, less testing is necessary, and the work is progressing steadily. The most important thing, however, is to reduce the possibility that the testing phase of the final application will result in erroneous decisions that will cause the project to revert to the prototyping stage or even initial planning. Each delay costs the software company and the customer money and increases the possibility of being overtaken by rivals. Or the sudden appearance of a new competitor with a comparable product.
Putting the Software Company on the path to product development
A product that is introduced to the market must constantly evolve in order to remain competitive with similar products and alternatives. Users require the enhancement of their favourite features and the addition of new ones. Continually meeting these expectations helps maintain their interest. However, for this to be possible, these requirements must be met. And this necessitates engaging UX researchers who provide current data from the end-user community on a regular basis. With such assistance, it is simpler to make decisions about the product development direction without guesswork or unnecessary risk. Users and product owner alike will appreciate such a long-term stability in direction. And even the project team, as they will not have to waste time rolling back unsuccessful implementations to a previous version. UX optimization is necessary for all planned changes.
UX research has become standard in software companies as applications have become more complex and require more UX decisions. It is always beneficial to have an external team of UX researchers who have in-depth knowledge of the target audience and can provide clear guidelines. Some of these tips can even prevent the failure of a project in its initial phases or after the initial contact.
There are a few points in the application development process where UX research makes a difference. The first stage will be the planning phase, during which respondents will indicate the type of application they require, followed by prototyping and testing the final product version. Additionally, you can test the usability of pre-made applications and make modifications. The project will not only attempt to catch up with market standards thanks to UX research; it will also have the opportunity to create the reality of users.