User-centered design is a process that relies on the input of real people to create better products. So how do you know what your users want? The answer might surprise you: You don't!
That's where user experience researchers come in. They help bridge the gap between what your company thinks it knows about its customers and what they actually need by conducting qualitative research,, which includes interviews, surveys, focus groups, and contextual inquiries.
This blog post will discuss how partnering with a UX researcher can enrich your team's collective knowledge of customers, markets or business goals.
First off, UX researchers will help you observe your users from the perspective of people who use or have used similar products in order to come up with what is actually needed versus just guessing based on assumptions and best guesses (which, it turns out, we're not very good at).
UX researchers will also approach the interviews and discussions with an unbiased view. This is important so that their questions and interactions with customers are not clouded by their own thoughts or ideas about the product.
They may discover problems or find ways to improve the experience for certain groups of users that you had not considered previously (example: elderly people who use computers with large fonts so they can see better). This takes user-centered design and makes it more inclusive for all users.
So, how can you get started working with a UX researcher?
The first step is to figure out what your requirements are for the project. These should include not only who you're designing a product or service for, but also how much time and money will be available during the development process (since there's an added expense with UX research). When deciding on those factors it can help if we know:
- Who am I targeting? Is my target audience mostly male versus female users of different ages/education levels in varied geographic locations?
- What type(s)of devices do people use most often when using this particular system? Mobile phone app vs desktop computer application? What about operating systems?
- What part of my product or service do I want to test?
- Will any languages other than English need translation support within our design workflows?
And the list can go on and on. So as you can see, user research can be an invaluable tool if leveraged in the correct way - especially if you consult a professional.