Give users what they need; not what they ask for

I <3 Data & you should too!

Most companies, and people, still have a difficult time giving value to UX (User Experience). It is still a very misunderstood field. Personally, I don’t claim to admit knowing everything. However, this post is to help those get better acquainted. Either to seek help from a professional, or to get an idea on how to seek, organize and analyze the information you need from your own users.

10 years ago I was ignorant to the concept of working to create a great ‘user experience’. That term was seemingly synonymous with creating cool and aesthetically pleasing designs. If I was pleased with the interface design & the client was pleased too — it was a win. We understood the users, we were the professionals. Right?

Sort of.

First, UI (User Interface) design is not UX. Neither is graphic design or iA (Information Architect) design by itself. UX is a something completely separate, yet needs to be one with all the processes just mentioned. Second, a piece of great advice I share with everyone is that ‘you are not your customers’. You maybe selling watches, fixed-gear bikes, project management software or even a language learning solution, and you could be passionate about it primarily because it solves a problem that you yourself are having. Yet, again you are not your customer.

I’m not saying to not trust your instincts. What I am saying is don’t let those decisions weigh you down. Innovation through constant iteration is something that I champion in saying. Design and build you website, product and/or service with your idea of a great user experience. The goal is to get something up and into the hands of your users. This doesn’t mean to launch v1 without actually testing with a select few beta testers. You shouldn’t ever go into a launch blind. User experience isn’t something that you do and move on, it’s a process that needs and should be integrated into everything you do.

While your building, share with friends, neighbors and trustworthy people online. Creating a great experience is about having a process of continually learning about users, responding to their behaviors and maturing your product.

For those non technically or artistically inclined, looking for a graphic designer and developer is usually priority #1. As it moreorless should be. Without an actual product or service you will have a difficult time moving forward, not impossible just difficult. Your immediate next step is critical though. As you all work on creating and building your ideas, you should also be setting up systems to make sure you can gather data back from users.

Below is a list of some tools that I have personally used and highly recommend:

  • Google Analytics – Web analytics (this should be automatic, if nothing else)
  • Wufoo – Easy forms to create surveys
  • KISSmetrics – Metrics platform that goes beyond just Google Analytics
  • CrazyEgg – Visualize your users visits & patterns
  • Loop 11 – Online usability testing

 

All of the above tools are great, however if you are wanting that perfect set of software to help you guarantee your success, these aren’t it. Regardless of what you use, nothing will assure your success. Tools are just that, tools. Don’t make them your crutch. It doesn’t matter how you obtain your data, the software solutions mentioned above just helps to make the process more convenient.

To conclude here are 4  simple, yet powerful reasons why metrics and user data are invaluable.

1. Having data solves arguments. It removes opinions from fact; either it’s true or not.
2. Data shows you how to increase conversions.
3. Data helps improve your intuition.
4. Investors & clients love data.

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