If a product doesn’t solve a problem, it has no purpose. That sounds logical, but it is one of the most frequent mistakes in product design. Research is one of the most important aspects within UX design, and for a good reason: it reveals why a product, button, colour or word does or doesn’t work. But... what is UX?
What is UX?
User experience (UX) is the experience of the user: how it feels to use a product, system or service. It’s not only about the usefulness, the functionality or the speed that you go through a process. Because quickly bringing someone from A to B is too limited... it is just as important how someone feels when they go from A to B.
A good product scores well on three levels:
1. Functional design
- Why is our product built?
- What can our product do?
2. Visual design
- How (attractive) does our product look?
- Does our product have a personality?
- What does our product’s appearance say about its functionality?
3. User experience
- How does it feel to use this product?
- How quickly and easily can you use it?
- What sound does it make?
Many of these things might seem insignificant, but they are the details that create the 'experience'. You don’t build a good product by accident: it originates from a very conscious quest. Every detail solves a problem!
Great products solve user problems and generate positive emotions.
Agile UX, flexibility in function of the user
We traditionally start from a linear product structure. We start with research and end with a finished product. A lot can happen in this period:
- The (new) boss can change course
- The competition can launch a product
- The technology can evolve
- The behaviour or motivation of the user can change
This linear working method involves many risks and can quickly result in the loss of money and wasted labour. If you work agilely, you insert some intermediate sprints and launch a partial or limited version of the project in the short term. This enables you to start usability tests more quickly and therefore change gears faster in the direction of the end user.
Quantitative and qualitative research
Research is always the first step because if you don’t know the problem, you can’t solve it. Research guides decisions regarding design and content. If you don’t do research, you are not busy with UX.
UX is a research-based discipline.
There are literally hundreds of ways to do user research. The tools and methods consist of two groups: qualitative and quantitative research.
The data from quantitative research can be expressed in numbers, percentages or graphs. We generate statistical data with tools like Google Analytics and AB testing.
Qualitative research is less structured and uses questionnaires with open questions or live user tests. This doesn’t result in data but in more profound insights about how your product works or how it is being used. You try to discover what is going on in the user’s head.
There are many research methods. You choose one or more tools, depending on your objective.
The never-ending story: a user-centred mindset
Do you want to build a good product? Then there is a lot of work to be done! People change at breakneck speed, and so do the methods that give them what they are looking for.
A user-centred mindset must be the focus of everything that we do.
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