All eyes on the user

December 12th, 2019 4 min |

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If there’s one thing that all the teams agree on, it’s that the user should be their main focus. As a result, research is becoming increasingly important in product development projects. For example, Guillaume Chalifoux believes that user journey mapping is essential. This process allows a researcher to illustrate what’s already known about the user and share this information with the entire team so that they can build a solution that meets the user’s needs.

“In the past, I’ve certainly seen projects kicked off even though no in-depth interviews or prior observation sessions were conducted for them,” says Matthew Gardner, UX designer at GLab. His point is that user path mapping is only useful if it reflects the results of qualitative or quantitative analyses carried out with users. User tests are performed directly on the wireframes during the product platform iteration to test user navigation patterns and their understanding of messages. “Since these tests are carried out on specific user groups, it’s important to know which audience you’re targeting.”

Giving users exactly what they ask for is a trap that should be avoided because it can quash innovation.

Meanwhile, Audrée Lapierre cautions that relying too heavily on user tests can be dangerous. “Giving users exactly what they ask for is a trap that should be avoided because it can quash innovation. We need to be confident about our design and our ability to find solutions that aren’t immediately obvious.” It’s the designer’s responsibility to defend her vision and use user tests judiciously, not as a to-do list.

Finally, researchers and UX designers aren’t the only ones who should be involved the user research. “We asked the Officevibe team, including our developers, if anyone was interested in helping with information gathering and data analysis. The participants were surprised at how much useful information they got from talking to users directly and hearing about their issues in their own words. It gave them a more nuanced understanding of user behaviours and provided them with insights that they never would have gotten just by reading research results. They ended up feeling much more confident about their decisions,” explains Marie-France St-Pierre, who heads Officevibe's User Research department. “If you want to create products that make a difference, it helps to be curious about what makes people tick,” she concludes.

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