How do you know what amount of UX to include in a project? Some companies don’t even consider user experience in the initial project scope — sometimes because of time and budget constraints or they just never think about it. On the other hand, some can overthink the UX, get hung up on research, and don’t react fast enough to get the product into the hands of users to test in a real-life environment. You can’t afford not to have some level of UX in your process. Here are some basic guidelines on how to make it work for you.
The ideal situation is to get a minimal amount of testing of the interface and experience in the hands of users early. Use wireframes or rough comps to get feedback that you can use immediately. Just as important is to iterate as you are building the products and features. This way you can adapt and adjust as needed. You then keep UX as an integral part of the product lifecycle – beginning, middle and end. You can’t do it upfront and leave it, and you can’t do it last and then expect it to work as it goes out the door.
User experience doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t have to be expensive but it does need to be an integral part of the entire process. Having the right balance is vital to getting good results. When estimating a project always include UX and user testing within the scope and timeframe and allow time for results and iteration. Include UX as part of your roadmap for future features and always come back and revisit what is working and what is not, and if that feature should still be part of your business strategy. On the other side of the coin, don’t get bogged down with trying to make it right the first time. You will never get it right, and it will never get finished.
Don’t test it on yourself. You are not the customer and will not get a realistic evaluation of how the product works. Include real end users who are not biased, part of your company or family. You would be surprised how well just going out and showing someone a few screens and asking the right questions works. You can get useful feedback just showing someone quick wireframe comps on the phone instead of creating high resolution interfaces where people inevitably get distracted by the details rather than focus on the functionality. There are many decent online tools and services out there for simple user testing. Choose the ones that work best for your app in the right situation. If you are relying on someone else to qualify the testers, always make sure the candidate is the correct persona.
Strategic business questions you should always ask yourself:
- Why would customers use this app?
- What would make them immediately download or signup for an account?
- Why would they continue to use it?
- How can you make it simpler for the user? Can you remove what they don’t need?
- Does each feature truly reflect your business strategy and objectives?
- Who are you competing against?
- What makes you better or different than your competition?
- What’s the most important goal you want to achieve? Sign up more users, promote social interaction, subscriptions?
User experience is not new, but it is now getting the recognition it deserves as an vital part of the success of your company and your products. I have enjoyed creating user interfaces and refining user experience for over 20 years. Let me know how I can help you make your business and product a success.
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