Using UX Research to Build The Right Product, Interview With Elisabeth Bohlmann of December Labs

Bohlmann provides an overview of UX along with practical tips on how to leverage it for your organization.

PEOPLE

TAKEAWAYS

  1. Don’t get scared by potential challenges of UX, since there’s a way to do UX for everyone to get value.
  2. UX can provide a great return on investment; e.g. saving users time every day or freeing customer support teams from repeat issues. 
  3. Never lose the focus on building products that solve a user’s problems; UX can help you guide the way.

NOTES

  • 01:18 – Can you provide us an overview of December Labs? We specialize in design and development in customer software solutions, mostly with funded startups and growth stage companies (e.g. Google, Accenture). We help people build their products, their companies and their dreams.
  • 02:25 – What is User Experience (UX)? UX is a user centric approach to understanding the user’s problem and using research to solve the user’s problem. It starts with mapping out the user’s problem and designing the user solution.
  • 03:16 – Why has UX become a big deal? UX is founded in Design Thinking, an approach which puts users at the center of any design decision. Design Thinking has been around for decades but has become popular in software in the past decade and is the magic backbone that’s making software more sleek and usable but helping you solve a problem.
  • 04:50 – What are some of the challenges of UX? Many startups feel UX is too expensive, they don’t have a user base or it’s only for big companies. User testing doesn’t need to include a lot of users — even speaking with just five people can identify 80% of the problems they might have with your product. Don’t get scared with UX and its challenges.
  • 07:05 – How is UX different from UI (user interface)? Both have the “U” in them for the user, so they are part of the same, user centric, journey to solve the user’s problems, in a specific way. UI is the visuals/end product. UX is more hidden, it’s the backbone/structure/architecture and is also divided into user research to understand what the user’s want and then the design tries to implement that (including UI); overall they are both part of the product design cycle.
  • 08:35 – How has UX evolved in the past decade? Has Agile/iterative development pushed it to the forefront? Users get more sophisticated and demanding over time with using products. Also, large organizations are investing a lot of money into their products, so startups have to compete with that and it becomes important to put the user at the center of that process.
  • 10:10 – How is being used in corporations and governments? With startups, you want to use UX to validate your ideas beyond just friends & family. With bigger companies, they do UX on every new feature in their enterprise products (e.g. repeat customer service tickets) to validate before spending money on product development. It’s sad that 90% of startups fail, so UX is even more important for validation of your product.
  • 12:50 – How do you go about setting up a new UX program in your company? It depends on whether you’re building a new product or improving an existing one. If it’s a new product for a startup, we might start with user sourcing if you don’t have a user base or if it’s further along, you could test the design before launching the beta. For bigger companies, you have integration with teams such as development, QA and customer service teams. It just depends on where you are with your product.
  • 15:00 – What are some methods/tactics you have used in UX? They vary from addressing a specific feature to understanding a user’s environment to how they might use your products. Surveys and interviews are good examples but it also depends on how many people you have access to; surveys are good for large numbers of users but it’s also a good way to prepare for interviews, since you have to be mindful of the user’s time. Qualitative research is the more why and quantitative is more of the what. Other research can be attitudinal to listen to what user’s say to you or behavioral which is more about observing which can be moderated/unmoderated/remote/in-person interviews. Within those interviews, you can use specific tactics to validate certain parts of your product. For example, we’ve used card sorting to make the overall navigation of a website more intuitive. 
  • 19:35 – Takeaways (see above)
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