Learn how gathering data about your users is essential to help you understand them better, and how that in turn helps you create a great user experience. This video explains the difference between quantitative ("what") and qualitative ("why") data, and introduces the idea of site visits or field trips to gather qualitative information.
- [Narrator] The core concept of user-centered design is that giving your customers software that meets their needs is more likely to make them productive and happy. If they're more productive and happy, they'll use your product more and recommend it to more people. That, in turn, makes your product more successful. So, the first task in the user-centered design process is to understand more about your users. User research can be quantitative, that is, using statistics and metrics you gather from web analytics or instrumentation or from surveys and other market research, or it can be qualitative.
That means the rich data you get from observing users performing the tasks you care about whether it's manually, or with your software, or even using the competitor's product. It's best to have a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data tells you what is happening. Qualitative data tells you why it's happening. Combining the two types of user research allows you to see in-depth behavior during user observations research, and then work at how prevalent that behavior is using quantitative tools.
Or quantitative analytics let you see where in your product users are struggling. Qualitative techniques let you work out the reasons so you can best resolve the issues. Without a good set of user research, it's unlikely you'll be able to do user-centered design for the simple reason that you won't know how to be user-centered. If there's one thing that's always true on development teams, it's that you are not your users. Anyone working in software development is more technically adept and better able to complete system tasks than regular users.
The first step in being user-centered is to get an understanding of who your users truly are and what their pain points are. What I normally suggest, is that you take the quantitative data that you have from analytics, instrumentation, and support calls, and use that to work out what area of your product you want to first try and address. Then, perform some qualitative user research by watching some representative users working with that part of the product. The best way to get your qualitative information is to take a field trip to users' place of work or their homes to watch them working.
The data you get back is much richer in these situations than if you were to ask users to come to you to do the same tasks, because you get to see all the little coping mechanisms they use, like passwords stuck on Post-it notes under their keyboards, or cheat sheets stuck on the side of their monitors. Those things are missing if you bring people into an artificial usability testing environment. User-centered design is also a whole-team activity. Unless everyone on the team has a good understanding of user needs, they won't be able to design good solutions for those needs.
Get the whole team to participate in user research, so that they're all aware of the pain points that users have.
- Getting data to analyze
- Observing users
- Building an experience map
- Setting goals
- Developing metrics