Success Hinges on Answering One Question
A situation we run into often is that our clients ask the wrong questions when putting forward a new site or app. On the surface, the questions all sound legitimate and logical for a user experience project:
- Do Users understand the navigation and tab terminology?
- Is it easy for Users to link their social media profiles into our app?
- What layout do Users prefer for viewing our multimedia content and articles?
- Is it easy for Users to leave reviews of our products on the site?
Ok, stop right there. Back up a second. The big question that hasn’t been asked is:
SHOULD we include this feature/function/benefit/content at all?
For some reason companies ignore this important question, and focus their effort on the creation and maintenance of features and sometimes whole sites or apps that should not have been built in the first place. Why does it matter if it’s easy for Users to link their social media profiles into your website if they only want to interact with you through direct mail or telephone support? Why does it matter what media layout Users prefer in lab if they would never use your site as a content portal?
Often business objectives and the perfect-but-myopic usability scenario can cloud the real issues behind a solid user experience. If you force Users through a flow that is difficult and obtuse just to meet the metric-based goal of increasing their time on-site, there’s always another site or app that will provide a more fulfilling and expeditious experience. You can also spend time designing the most user-friendly, slick, design-award-winning site or feature in the world but if Users can’t make the behavioral leap into using that product or service then you’ve invested time and development dollars with no possibility for a return.
It pays to take a step back and find out where you really stand with your Users and uncover what brand equity you have with them. With this knowledge, you can make more informed decisions about how to really meet their needs and your business goals.
A better set of questions that help you define what you should (or should not build) include:
- Where are your strong points with Users?
- What content and services do they expect from you?
- What trust do they place in your brand and products?
This doesn’t mean that you can’t approach your user base with new product offerings and new ways to interact with your brand, but it has to make sense to them that you would. Instead of assuming you need to integrate Twitter comments into your app’ work on discovering things like ‘our Users tend to do X activity while they’re using our product. What can we do to accommodate that behavior or even take it all to the next level?’’
Break the cycle of past confusion and limitations posed by the wrong questions by truly talking to your users. You must start at ground zero with them – find out how they use your product in context:
- Why it meets their needs,
- What it isn’t doing for them, and
- What they do in conjunction with your product.
Find out what brand equity you have:
- Are you a trusted expert, or a necessary evil?
- How/when/why do your Users want to communicate with you?
- What do they desire, and what do they expect?
- Is there a situation where you become more important to them?
Answering these questions are the keys to getting a deeper understand of how your Users tick, what drives them to you, and ultimately how you can connect with them better in the long run.