The importance of User research
and some tips to start

If your intention is to create an app you should be aware about the importance of User research. It is the first step of the lifecycle of an app development and probably one of the most important. We can help you create and test your app prototype (find more info here)but you need to come prepared and know your future users well. User research helps you learn and understand your users to take informed decisions.

In this article Frauke Seewald puts the accent on the importance of User research. We could not agree more. If you want to create an app, before starting any development effort or even better before even starting the prototyping phase you must do User research.
User research mobile and web application
Photo Daria Nepriakhina - Unsplash
As Frauke explains: “User research will define the guidelines for creating a product with a good experience. Not spending any time on research, and basing all of your design decisions on best guesses and assumptions, puts you at risk of not meeting your user needs.”

Her article is a good resource to understand the value of User research. She also provides some tips on where to start even with a small budget at your disposal. It is a fast read and we strongly encourage to read it carefully.

To do a basic User research you do not need a monstrous budget, mostly time and patience. Therefore, we also list here some resources to get you started with User research in practice.

First and foremost, what is User research in few words?

We have an app idea and we should basically answer three questions:
  • What do people need? - Are we providing to our user something they really need?
  • What do people want? - Are we solving their problem in the right way?
  • Can they use the product? - Are they able to use our app to achieve their goal?
Recherche utilisateurs développement d'application mobile
Photo You X Ventures - Unsplash
You always need to start from a question you want to answer about your users and answer to it with objective data. The process can be the one described by Frauke in her article above, or you can have a look to this article of Smashingmagazine, or start with the resources we list below.

Here there are some examples of what you can do before creating a digital prototype to answer the first two of the three questions above:
You can create surveys to collect valuable data specific to your future end users that you can use as a base for further research. For example, to investigate some charateristics your looking to have in your users vs. their demographics (age, sex, country, etc). In this article there are interesting instructions on how to create effective surveys for User research.

Email campaigns:
Create a database of potential users and send them emails. Email open rates, click through rates, and task completion rates for recipients all provide insight into whether your idea has value. To perform your email campaigns you can use tools such as  Mailchimp.

Google Ads: (or other online advertising platforms)
Purchase advertisements that target searches relevant to your future project. You can know what language customers are using to find solutions related to your business, and you can measure click through rate to determine customer interest in the copy of the ad.

Landing Pages:
You can build a landing page (very simple website) to complement your advertising or email campaigns. The landing page can be your proof of concept and allow you to test click through rates on buttons such as “buy now”, “register” or “share”. The clicks serve as further validation of the idea. Check out this blog post for examples of landing page and the basic science behind.

Fake Doors:
In case of an existing product that you want to evolve. Add buttons for specific features or services that your business will provide. Even if the buttons aren’t functional, you can measure interest and collect emails or other demographics on users. If a design element (such as a button) doesn't actually work on your website, be sure to indicate that to users and explain to users why it isn’t working. Go to this blog post to get started with fake doors.

Learn about Market Demands and Trends: (What’s currently going on in the world?)
  • Keyword Evaluation (Google Ads - KeywordPlanner) - What are people searching for? What do you notice after filtering the high volume keywords?
  • Content Competition (Google Search) - What type of content appears in your searches? (articles or companies) Is this consistent for other keyword searches related to your idea?
  • Geographic Validation (Google Trends) - Where do people live who are searching for related keywords? What barriers might exist to deliver the product or service?
  • Social Media Validation (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) - What volume of people use keywords related to your idea? How are users talking about related ideas? Handy for communicating your idea and for marketing materials later.
  • Example:  Shopify blog post
Concierge MVP
Photo Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash
To answer the second question (What do people want?) you can also simulate your product with a concierge mvp. The concierge mvp is a minimum viable product where you manually guide your user through the solution to a problem.

For example: “Let’s say you want a software program that will automatically send a user coupons based on the food they buy each week and help them decide which grocery store they will shop at to save more money. Instead of building software, first you would allow a user to tell you what they buy each week, maybe through an email or face to face, and then take the coupons and best grocery store to them each week. Soon, you’ll find out if/when the user doesn’t go to the grocery store, if savings really affects which grocery store they choose, and if they care about certain brands, and if so, in which food categories. “

The point of the concierge MVP, as the point with most mvp’s, is to maximize learning and mitigate risk of developing a useless product. What you learn with the concierge MVPwill be valuable to define the user journey and the wireframing of your application because you will already have a basic knowledge of how the business flow of your product will actually work. 
To answer the third question, before to start any concrete development, we can help you create and test a realistic prototype (find more info  here). As User research in general, this prototype can help you avoid very expensive mistakes if you develop your app based on your personal assumptions and not by listening to what your future users have to tell you.

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