Learn your user. Communicate, Observe & Listen

The best way to understand user’s behaviors, needs and motivations is creating a user research. By that, I mean not only read about your target audience. I am talking more about learning through “Feedback”. Interview users, using observation techniques and conducting task analysis.

It’s relevant when you are developing a screen base product such as mobile apps or web applications, or an IoT or tangible interfaces products. There are plenty of methods to learn your users such as focus groups, contextual interviews, card sorting etc. Have you ever wonderedwhyandhow learning fromyour users? Scrolling down, I’ll explain the main features of observation, advantages and suggest an “how to” approach.

#1 Start with setting a goal

Ask yourself what is it that you are investigating? Are you trying to discover something, or maybe verify your hypothesis? Scientists and researchers are trained to focus on details which is helping you to achieve these goals.

#2 Do it Once- Do it Good

Observation should be planned properly in order to get an in-depth understanding of users. Therefore, you need a prompt plan. When your thoughts are well organized, and you are using a scientific approach, you are basically reducing the chance to conduct another observation.

#3 Recording and Documentation

You can’t trust your memory. With time, things tend to split out of your mind, so it’s quite important to record all actions. Use video camera and your phone/tape recorder in order to preserve those informations. Besides, observation involves the use of eyes and ears (rather than ears only) and act as the most accurate medium. We are only trust reports/documentations when we get firsthand evidence using our own eyes.

The advantages of observation as user research method:

1) Meet real potential users F2F in order to collect data on human behaviors’.

2) Data collected in user’s environment, giving the user the feeling of control, and reducing research bias.

3) Contextual inquiry improves accuracy in research results.

4) Issues evolving users’ responds are fast to test.

5) When comparing actions to words, it is easy to understand verbal responses.

6) Learning user’s needs (not only desires) via actions.

7) Less guessing, more accuracy.

8) Useful to check for non-verbal expression of feelings.

If you see the potential in conducting observations and creating an in-depth research, my advice to you is:Use a professional.

There are so many variables you need to take in consideration when observing or interviewing users, especially when you need the most accurate information.

Remember that the basis of a good product starts from a good research, and there is no point in conducting an observation without earning a true value from it.

Be a pro and use one –

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