What we talk about when we talk about UX

Simply guessing what people want isn’t designing for your customers.

Why is UX research important?

It stops you from making a product that your customers don’t want. Or to be more accurate…

It stops you from making a product that your customers might want at first, but after using it a couple of times and getting so frustrated with it, they try to set it on fire.

Then they tell everyone they know that your product is responsible for burning off their eyebrows.

I know. The stakes are THAT high.

For any product or service to succeed, you need to know what your users want as early as possible in your design process. This is where UX research comes in.

Appearance, functionality, and price are traditionally what businesses focused on when competing with other products in the market. But what differentiates a  product now is how good it feels for someone to use your product, and how this experience meets and hopefully exceeds their expectations.

This is what we talk about when we talk about the ‘user experience’.

And that’s why it’s important to find out – from actual, real-life, honest users who aren’t just mannequins you’ve dressed up to fool your CEO – what they want and expect from your product. That way you can produce a truly user-focused experience that they love and won’t try to kill with fire (or complain about on Twitter).

Who should care about UX in your organization?

User experience is important enough to justify everybody in your organization taking 30 minutes out of the day to find out how user-focused design can benefit the business. Seriously.

If there’s someone in your team that hasn’t come across a feature of a product (whether it’s an app, a website, a kitchen utensil, the door they entered the office through) that hasn’t frustrated them to the point of swearing never to use that product again, you can assume a body snatcher has replaced them.

UX isn’t just the concern of the design team. Your sales team makes connections every day with real-life humans, so they’ll be particularly receptive to your customers’ frustrations. Your marketing team should know that your customer’s experience is ultimately what will make or break your product upon launch. Your dev team will momentarily glance your way without removing their headphones and carry on keeping your product from falling off a cliff – but they know how important usability is.

The first step

Simply guessing what people want or merely copying your competitors isn’t designing for your customers.

It’s the same with just adding features because they look cool. If your friend gave themselves an Iron Maiden tattoo, would you do the same?

No, you don’t even like Iron Maiden – you like Slayer. But can you guarantee you’d still like Slayer in 10 years time? Even if your product finds an audience – and there are plenty of badly designed products out there used by some very masochistic people – you’ll be cursed to round after round of expensive product fixes as you play catch-up with your users’ expectations and their many complaints.

However, there is some good news. Yes you will still like Slayer in 10 years time. Phew. But more importantly UX research can be straightforward, effective, time-saving and cost efficient.

UX Research 101

Everything you need to know about getting started with user research