Attempting to save time and budget by skipping research is one of the most common (and most costly) errors we encounter in our business. Beginning a project without talking to end users generally leaves organizations with zero understanding of which changes are likely to have the highest impact. You also risk not knowing specifically where your customers are struggling, and what components are working well. Rushing into a redesign without these inputs can be reckless and often creates more business problems than it solves.
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The Value of Talking to Your Users
Checking in with key audiences prior to a redesign project not only saves time and money but also provides a more strategic foundation for prioritizing the right features, content and functionality based on your user’s goals.
Qualitative research provides insight into why users struggle to complete these key tasks and how to effectively resolve the issues with the redesign..
Here are 4 business benefits associated with conducting benchmark user research as a first step in a redesign project.
1. You can prioritize and focus your budget
When we conduct a baseline usability test. The tasks we have planned for participants are designed to uncover potential barriers in key processes throughout the application and identify opportunities for improvements. One of our goals is to establish a set of themes to help our clients prioritize where the highest impact changes can be made and what enhancements might be just nice to have.
By observing how research participants interact with key functionality and content, we can very quickly understand what actions to take in order to overcome these barriers and help our clients understand how to make the biggest impact. Having a punch list of high and low priority items based on user research provides more confidence and direction for allocating budget and focusing on those things most likely to meet business and user objectives.
2. You will save time in the long run
On average it takes us about 4 weeks from kick off to report delivery to conduct a thorough evaluation of a complex web site or application. Once an application like this has entered the implementation phase or QA phase it can take months to make changes especially if there are changes to base CMS templates or the data structure of the application.
We find that having a clear understanding about how to improve a process based on user feedback takes the guesswork and risk out making changes. Without this information organizations may end up redesigning a process based on untested hypotheses and realize after launch that they’ve actually created bigger and more confusing barriers for your users. This is a nightmare scenario—lost revenue, more time to reevaluate the situation and more of your to fix it again.
3. You’ll identify the needs and challenges of common user personas
The quality of your research participants makes all the difference when you are trying to understand what attributes of your web site or application are the most important to them. That is why we spend a lot of time understanding key attitudes and behaviors of our client’s user base. By recruiting people that align with the key user personas, we uncover challenges that are having a negative impact on the organizations business goals.
User research interviews are a great way to learn about the details and characteristics of a specific persona in order to develop a deeper understanding of their goals and challenges. Organizations may know they have a high abandonment rate for a given process, research tells us why their customers are giving up and how they feel when they do so.
4. You’ll have a benchmark for measuring the success of improvements
“How will we know if the redesign will solve our problems?” This is one of the most common questions we get during our new business process. In the end the metrics and analytics may show a more successful funnel, or a completion of a process. Metrics do not, however, show how the experience causes your user to feel or what words they will use to describe their experience to others.
Insight into a user’s emotional responses along with a clear understanding of where they encounter barriers can establish great benchmarks for the redesign. We recommend retesting the site after changes have been made using the same test plan and screening criteria to ensure the new direction resonates with your users and meets business objectives.
If you are looking for a clear direction for your next redesign project and want to save development time and get the most out of your budget, contact us to learn more about benchmark user research.
By John Golden
John’s career in interactive media design began in 1995 and has spanned over two decades with a focus on developing simple, streamlined approaches for complex problems.View John's Bio