Not knowing your customer base can prevent you from reaching your goals
How to collect the data necessary to create a strong understanding of your user
Have you checked to make sure your product has a customer base before launching? It’s easy to assume that, if you and friends around you have a need, that others will have similar needs to be met. But what solid data do you have to back up your assumptions?
If you have not already built a user persona, you may not have a clear and research based idea of who your customers really are. As you build out, continual testing may prove or disprove the hypotheses on user interaction. Potential users may interact with the finished product differently than how you assume they will. Strong data to back up or disprove prior assumptions is hard evidence for your design choices. With it, you can explain to shareholders how to create a better experience for the right people.
A user persona is the fictional personification of the ideal user base. While a proto-persona is based on the assumptions of whom you think your user base is, a user persona is based on data.”
– Standard Beagle
Clearly identify your business goals
A good start to creating your product as a whole is to have a goal in mind. For instance, your goal may be to create an app to satisfy a need, or a website to inform people about an organization. With a goal in mind, research must be conducted to answer any questions you may have about your potential user. This could be about their daily habits, their pain points surrounding the issue you are trying to resolve, and if your users have a real need for the product.
Other questions may include information about their age, their internet browsing habits, or their salary. For example, the research needed to understand a user needing a pet-sitting app will be different from questions on how users find information about local non-profits. Tailoring a thorough plan of attack is an important foundation to the usefulness of your product.
Gather quantitative data
Surveys are a way to gather quantitative data.
When conjecture and anecdote aren’t enough to convince shareholders of your position, having unbiased quantitative research will. Quantitative data can help you get a sense of your user base with data on demographics and a broad sense of their habits. With a large group of survey responses, you can get clearer statistics on who you should target for your product.
Additionally, the analytics taken from survey responses can weed out people who will or will not utilize your product. You can define what differentiates those two groups of users, and design more effectively.
The benefit of qualitative research
To truly design empathetically, you will need to go beyond hard numbers. This is where qualitative research and user interviews come in. First, find people whose general demographics line up with survey results or your hypothetical customer base. Second, interview them to see if their answers line up with your assumptions or not. This will give the important insights into “why” your user base behaves the way they do.
While asking “why” you can better understand the exact pain points that can’t be answered on a multiple choice survey.” – Standard Beagle
What’s more, other illuminating insights can be gleaned through open-ended and probing questions. Interviewees may drop valuable tidbits of information. They may even flat out explain why they need or don’t need the solution your product is offering. They could offer a solution that you had not thought of before.