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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.