Getting to know your customer base starts off with user research. The main focus of user research is to dig deep and learn as much as you can about your users and what they look for in your digital product or service. User research also helps draw out your user’s common needs, wants, behaviours and motivations. Good user research is a very critical component for many design projects as it provides the right criteria and basis for a great user centred design and user experience.
Determining what type of user research methodologies you should deploy is really dependant on the project, as well as the timeline, environment and the client themselves. All these factors need to be taken into consideration prior to conducting user research with they key target audience.
Building digital products with a good user experience (UX) in mind is our key focus here at Digital Garden. Successfully being able to cater to the needs of the end user and the client is what drives us. How a person feels when interfacing with our digital product or service is what user experience is all about. A good user experience is influenced by many factors, such as ease of use, accessibility, findability and navigability.
It is important to remember that although you want to cater to the needs of the user, the client goals and objectives need to also be of a high priority, you should look for an equal balance between the two. User needs and business needs should run in correlation with each other.
For many years Digital Garden has been conducting various in depth user research projects with an array of clients. Recently we completed a user research project with St George & Sutherland Community College (SGSCC). Digital Garden in partnership with SGSCC’s marketing team conducted a phase of user research to assist in the redesign of the SGSCC website. In conjunction with SGSCC we deployed the following user research methodologies:
- Competitor Research
- Student Feedback
- Card Sorting / Affinity Mapping
- Usability Benchmarking
From this we were able to identify common problems the current SGSCC website faces with first hand responses from its users, such as:
- Poor findability
- Uneasy website navigation
- Poor usability
- Tedious content management
- Enrolment process needs serious improvement
These common themes will lead the path to the redesign strategies for the new SGSCC website. We were also able to make some recommended updates to prototypes and designs for SGSCC to consider when moving onto the next phase of the website redesign.
Another recent user research experience Digital Garden has participated in is with the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA). In partnership with the AVA’s key stakeholders, we conducted an initial research phase for the redesign of the AVA website. Research conducted here was more face to face and personal as we sat down with the key stakeholders of the AVA to get a deeper understanding of the current issues and problems. Like SGSCC we were able to pick out common themes and issues that users were having with the current AVA website. We deployed a variety of research methodologies, such as:
- Online Surveys
- Face-to-Face Interviews
- Google Analytics / Stats / Data Mining
- Benchmarking / Competitor Research
From these research methodologies deployed, we were able to identify some common issues and patterns users have with the current AVA website:
- Frustrating membership renewal processes
- Poor navigability - too many click throughs
- Not user friendly and poor ease of use
- Too slow
- Clunky and unorganised
Similar to SGSCC we were able to make some recommendations both design and technical, that AVA can consider when moving onto to the next phase of their website redesign project.
User Research for a better User Experience
As you can see there is a very prominent link between user experience and user research. User research can be seen as the basis of user experience, it’s learning as much about your user and their behaviours as you can. By conducting this research you will find that there are common themes that arise. Knowing what your users want, need, how they behave and interact should all be taken into consideration from the early stages of the project lifecycle to the end. The way you respond and implement designs, functionalities and features to cater to these common themes and problems in your digital product can determine if you have a good UX design in place.
As Steve Jobs said ‘You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around.’