Article | by Amy Fleming

4 Essentials for user research in 2018

UX and Optimisation Anayst Amy Fleming looks at how to bring user research into the forefront of business strategy.

While a dry 2018 might be pushing it, we marketers can certainly make a resolution to improve our user research this year.

With customers expecting improvements to existing products and services, a push for designers to commit to designing with accessibility in mind and the introduction of GDPR, there’s no better time to put user research at the heart of your digital strategy.
Here are our four must-dos for effective user research in 2018.

Regular user testing

 

Knowing who your customers are and understanding their unique needs and motivations is a priority for every organisation. In 2018, businesses should aim to involve customers at all stages of research and development. No matter how well-established or regarded your brand is, customer needs are constantly evolving. So reaching out to customers (not just fictional personas) on a regular basis is paramount.

 

An example of a business engaging in constant customer dialogue is Monzo, a UK digital mobile-only bank. Launched in 2015, Monzo has been praised for its dedication to meeting customer needs and using their suggestions to develop features for the mobile app. Monzo conducts weekly user testing sessions with a mix of users and non-users to review existing and upcoming features. Weekly user testing might not be feasible for all businesses, but a more consistent focus on users is clearly needed.

Accessible user experiences for all

Accessibility is often neglected when it comes to involving customers in user research. We bring in users, non-users and customers from all stages of the purchase funnel, but often forget to represent people with visual impairment or physical or motor disabilities. However, these people form one of the largest user groups in the world, with over six million disabled internet users in the UK alone.

The Click - Away Pound Survey 2016 found that 71 percent of disabled customers will click away from a website if they find it difficult to use. So it’s vital in 2018 that we involve these customers to make sure products are being revised and developed with accessibility in mind.

Step out of the user research comfort zone

In 2018, we all know the standard qualitative data gathering techniques; interviews, focus groups, and observations have been used religiously for years. However, challenging the status quo is a good thing, and businesses shouldn’t shy away from trying new methodologies.
The Design Sprint has a number of interesting techniques to facilitate research and generate new ideas, while user research conferences and webinars are always a great way to expand your knowledge.
 

User data gathering and analysis

In May 2018 an update to the current customer data protection regulation - The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced, affecting how businesses process and store data. Being transparent when recruiting customers for research and securely holding their personal data is now more important than ever.
People for Research wrote an insightful article outlining what GDPR means for user research, which we recommend everyone reads.

 

Conclusion

People can often be sceptical about user research, dismissing it as 'too expensive' or 'a waste of time'. In 2018, we feel it’s more important than ever. It guides businesses in the right direction from the very beginning of the development process, which in turn minimises risk and leads to a product which is usable, road-tested and attuned to the latest customer needs. User research drives all other areas of development forward, so it's crucial you give it the time and budget it deserves in 2018.

 

More

[CASE STUDY] Audience research for RS Components
[BLOG] Using customer mapping to inform digital strategy

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