You can't build good products if you don't understand who your customers are and how they work.
It's not as easy as just asking them, though. We have a number of techniques for understanding customer needs and determining if our solutions meet those needs.
Usability testing is one form of customer research. Here's a setup for a recent study of an iPhone app
Customer research can take many forms:
- Usability studies. We watch your customers using your products or prototypes. This can be in person or remote, automated or interactive, in your office or at a testing lab. We always learn something important to put in a usability report.
- Customer visits. We can watch actual or potential customers work, or just talk. The result is knowledge about how they use your products now, and insights into what they need in the future.
- Focus groups. These provide general information from a large group of people. Focus groups are often a good way to start a project. But one person with a dominant personality can hijack a discussion, shutting others out.
- Surveys. After refining our questions through other research methods, we can send out a survey to a large number of people to get more data. Here's a quick overview when you're planning a survey: Five Questions to Ask About Your Survey Questions.
Sometimes it's good to combine techniques. Surveys give a lot of data, but without the chance to interact or ask follow-up questions. We work with fewer people in usability studies and customer visits, but the resulting information is deeper.
Let's talk about the right set of activities to start your next project.