The benefit of a product or service will only be seen when it is used by real users. This is why it is important to look at user insights if you are going to create successful solutions that the users need.
If you do not take into consideration user needs when developing a product, you risk creating something that may have the most incredible functions, but does not solve the users’ actual problems or meet any of their needs. This kind of product will not add much value for anyone.
It is impossible for us by ourselves to know how to meet the needs of the users. So it is important to actually observe and listen to the users to get an insight into their attitudes, needs, behaviours, experiences and motivations. Using these user insights, we can then create a product or service that meets a specific need and creates satisfied users.
How do you collect user insights?
A number of established research methods are available for collecting user insights. These methods include everything from qualitative indepth interviews to more quantitative methods, such as click flow analyses. As there are so many methods to choose from, you need to try to select the most suitable ones, based on the goals, access to resources and the stage in the project you are in.
We normally divide the methods in the following way to simplify the choice of methods:
- Behaviour-based versus attitude-based methods.
- Qualitative versus quantitative methods.
Behaviour versus attitudes
This category can be summarised as follows: what the users say (behaviour-based) versus what the users do (attitude-based). Both types of methods can be useful, but the focus is normally on behaviours if possible, as this provides more concrete benefit. This is because there is often a big difference between what people say and what they actually do when they use a product or service.
A behaviour-based method, such as A/B testing, can provide very valuable information about how users behave when they use a product or service. An A/B test involves you creating two different versions of a page and testing them against each other by comparing visitor data. One simple example of this is getting half the visitors to see a red button and the other half a blue button on the same page. By comparing the number of clicks for these buttons, you can see which colour works best in this particular case.
Having said this, it can also be useful to find out about their attitudes, for example by sending questionnaires to the users to find out why they use the product. It is more difficult to get answers to these questions by only observing behaviours.
Qualitative versus quantitative
When choosing between a qualitative or quantitative method, it can be good to idea to reflect on the advantages of each method. Qualitative methods can give you answers to ‘how’ or ‘why’ you should solve a problem. However, quantitative methods are better suited for questions such as ‘how much’ and ‘how many’.
One example of a popular qualitative method is moderated usability testing, where you give users a list of tasks to perform and you observe their behaviour while they are doing them. Observing the users’ behaviour when they are using the product can give you an insight into how the product is used in reality and why problems arise.
If you use a quantitative method, such as a click flow analysis, you can see exactly where problems arise for most users when they use the product. A click flow analysis, for example, can help you discover whether a specific page causes you to lose an unusually high number of users. However, it can be worth investigating why you lost these users in order to take action and get the users to remain.
This has been a brief look at why it is important to collect user insights and what to think about when selecting a method. If you want to get the best results, you should use several different types of methods as they can complement each other. By putting this hard work in, we can create solutions that both meet the needs of the users and create real operational benefits.
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