Why User Research Is The Most Important Asset In Development
User research is that richly debated step in app and web development that many of us in the industry will cast aside in favour of in-depth tech-heavy days, and high budget design processes. Whilst these steps are, of course, valid and essential in the general structure of development, there are increasingly popular arguments coming to the surface in favour of user research being an important asset in the development process.
What Is User Research
When a company conducts user research, this can be done in a number of steps or strands. Step one is usually desktop research. This is research carried out into the user profile, where industries will break down their target users into particular consumer groups and profile them based on their prominent characteristics e.g. Gen X users prioritise family, security and financial stability, so would benefit from an app that can promise that level of safety during use.
Step two can be collecting direct user research pre-development, as researchers will ask the target users either in person, or online, what they would want out of the finished product. This could mean discussing proposed features, evaluating responses to suggested ideas, and even allowing the user group to test a prototype of the product before it launches and giving feedback.
Step three is post-launch user feedback. This is where the finished product is tested, reviewed and taken through a stringent checking process by a group of its designated users. Their feedback on the app, both positive and negative is considered and is then integrated into the marketing of the product.
These three branches of user research can help businesses and product designers to better understand their target users, as well establish the necessary user functionality needed to create the best possible app for them.
Why Is It So Important
The benefits of conducting thorough user research are endless. From the initial stages of product development, the creative processes put into designing and shaping an app should, ideally, be driven by how a user will approach, invest and engage with the final product. UX as a concept is led by in-depth user research and is flawed without it. The fundamental purpose of every app, site and product should always be to positively impact the lives of the user, and without it the product becomes irrelevant.
In today’s user-driven society, where the consumer controls and dominates the market, user research is even more important – in every stage of development. As the domestic market becomes increasingly educated on technology, mobile development and digital advancement, the anticipated standards of products are being raised indefinitely. This means that the consumer perspective is becoming increasingly vital in not just the conceptual stages of development, but the technical processes as well.
The most important factor of user research is being able to accurately measure just how the user will use the final product – what advantage it will have on your life. For example, a baby boomer user over the age of 60 might not be as interested in the social elements of their latest product or gadget, but rather the ease of use and the features of accessibility. By putting themselves in the shoes of the user, the developer can more accurately target and create a digital product for every consumer to enjoy.
So How Do We Carry Out Good User Research
Start by asking the right questions. How do you feel about this feature? What could we add to this element? What does the design tell you about the product? How often would you as a consumer use this product? What would it add to your life?
The most interesting approaches to a new concept and product will always come from asking the right kinds of questions. Avoid prompting or persuading users to give you an answer you want, and instead simply take their opinions and suggestions and factor these into your final designs.
Make sure your research is thorough, dedicated and detailed – create the perfect profile of your target user and make every design, development and marketing process based on their journey through the product.
User research is one of the most important assets in development, and as technology begins to expand so does its consumer base. So know your user, and get creating.