David Hayward

INTRODUCTION

User demands!

The question to ask before any design is, ‘why are we doing this?’

A website or app could function purely as black text on a white background. So, you could argue, why do you need design at all if the functionality is there? However, it’s not a question of need it’s a question of want and if the desire isn’t there that means there would be no reason to advance from a dustpan and brush to a Dyson V6 Trigger Pro handheld vacuum cleaner. Contentment is the enemy of advancement and things can always be better, always.

So, the first thing you need to ask is: Why are we doing this? It’s the most basic principle of economics, stripping it down to one simple fact – if there’s a demand they’ll be a need to supply. If there’s no demand for something, why make it? This is where data is the most vital weapon a designer has in their arsenal. It will ensure decision making is based on informed opinion and not guesswork.

Design should be done, not for users, but with users. Gathering data can be done by all manner of methods; be it analytics, questionnaires, focus groups, beta versioning and so on. If users are involved at these stages, it helps them feel like they have ownership of the product too. If this isn’t a huge part of your mobile marketing strategy, it should be.

At the recent MUXL conference, Air BnB stated that after some open and harsh feedback, they realised they needed to evolve their product otherwise they ran the risk of alienating their users. They spent 7 months purely on research; focusing on how to improve the user flow from a host’s perspective. This involved big changes to their mobile marketing strategy; usability testing, focus groups and dozens of prototypes. The conclusion they came to is the launch of a product can only be considered the halfway mark and that feedback is the opportunity for growth. Tools are constantly getting modified, becoming more personalised, but none of this can happen or be successful without vital user data.

Untapped potential

When responding to a brief it is common practice to create user personas, to make discoveries about user needs and what is required of the end product. However, a progression of that technique would be Behavioural Modes. To assume that certain personas behave the same way every time of day is a good initial guide, but not wholly accurate. If there is the opportunity to look at users’ behaviours and find patterns in how they use a product, it is possible to tap into latent user behaviours. Latent user behaviours are ways that an end user might use a product, but not what that product was initially designed for. You can see an example of this in the second image in this article. Thinking beyond the traditional can, not only help make a product faster and easier to use, but make it more personalised. A good illustration of this can be seen on Spotify or Netflix, whereby content is presented in all manner of different and dynamic ways, based on the user’s behaviour with the content. In summation, the relationship between production and end users is the same as any other relationship. In order to give people exactly what they want; ask them and learn from it! If you don't believe us, check out some of our work, we pride ourselves and being bold enough to challenge clients assumptions about their users, and we're candid enough to know that we need to back this up with a host of research.

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