08. January 2019
3 min

User Experience - Step into the User's World

“What does the user need? We can only make assumptions”. That is where problems begin to arise. This often happens when there is a mismatch between business and user goals. Lately, I had some great “Ahas” when learning about User Experience. I would like to share them with you in this post.
person holding black iPad

Business vs. User Goals

There are various stakeholders in a project team and they often have different goals to reach. It is one fundamental of User Experience where we must dive in: Who exactly are our stakeholders? All of the following can be our stakeholders:

  • Account executives who want to reach customer goals.
  • Customers who pay for the product. Sometimes customers and users are the same people. Sometimes not.
  • Users who actually use the product.
  • Managers with budgetary goals.
  • Other strategists with strategic goals.
  • Product Designers with, for example, aesthetic goals.
  • And developers who wish to reach their technology goals.

Sometimes stakeholders’ goals are divergent and sometimes they converge. The latter, that is where we should focus on: Goals that meet both – business and user objectives. This is where we can profit the most from User Experience.

The convergence of user goals and business objectives as Venn Diagram

Figure: The convergence of user goals and business objectives
Source: Edward Stull (2018)

A convergent goal could be:

  • An online supplier wants users to revisit their website.
  • Users will be ready to revisit a website if it satisfies their needs (efficient / easy-to-use / competitive prices etc.).

Do not get me wrong. The various goals of different stakeholders are often vital. There is no black and white. However, in projects we often forget for whom we build this and that functionality. We truly must turn to those people who use what we create. We must perform for the users.

Effectiveness

Unfortunately, this is only half the truth. Do not assume that users know exactly what they want. Product development always means to accompany on a user’s journey. Therefore, you will need an iterative approach like Lean Startup’s “build it and then measure it and learn from it”. This is the only way to reduce uncertainty and to avoid assumptions like above mentioned. You will get an idea about the user’s journey step by step. Expect failure and benefit from those experiences.

There is a wide variety of users. All with different backgrounds and past experiences. Often, it does not make sense to try to satisfy them all . That is where user goals should meet strategic goals (which are business goals). Otherwise you do not act economically.

It is all about effectiveness: Get to know who your users are. To whom you want to focus on. Find out what they really need (Define Personas). Then build the right product.

Efficiency

Make your product most efficient to users. They do not have time to waste. And there are too many other attractions they will turn to. Gather data about a user’s journey whenever possible. Did they need too much time to find a link? You can learn a lot about your user’s actions by measuring it. Do not misunderstand this as spying or data collection. It is all about a service for users.

Aesthetics

The power of aesthetics is tremendously underestimated. We are all attracted to attractive objects. It is part of our human DNA. Consider this when creating your product. This is where team diversity comes positively into play. Developers will not only build products. They will need a lot of creativity and act as artists.

Things to try now

  • Do you know your users? To whom do you focus on? Define Personas for your users.
  • Use a Venn diagram to gather your user and business goals. Find out where there is a convergence. Do you already address the convergent goals?
  • Discuss with your team if you focus more on business or user objectives.
  • You could also ask them “Am I developing for my users, my client, my team, or myself”? Give them a multi-dimensional scale where they can classify themselves.
  • How attractive is your product? Do not stop by making assumptions but instead, really ask your users.

Do not strive for perfectionism. It is more about getting a first picture. Find out how to do a first step into the user’s world.

If you are further interested in User Experience, I can truly recommend to read Edward Stull’s “UX Fundamentals for Non-UX Professionals”.

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