People, behaviour, emotions. In the rush of a website development, the human realities of our audiences can get ignored.
Sometimes project teams get caught in a loop of conflicting opinions and directions, as people defend their choices and argue their positions. While there’s nothing wrong with a healthy exchange of views, often the only evidence is personal experience This is what I do, so doesn’t everyone?.
User research provides the opportunity for direct evidence from customers to challenge such assumptions. It provides the opportunity for the organisation to refocus on customer needs rather than spend their time arguing with each other. The results can be enlightening, exhilarating and, on occasion, confronting.
Entering the lives of other people
Conducting research with audiences can be very intense and personal, but it is a privilege to come into people’s lives for an hour or so and learn about their needs.
Recently we tested several websites with diverse audiences, including people in regional Victoria, people with a range of disabilities, people with low income, people with English as a second language, new arrivals to Melbourne, and older people. (The websites were www.melbourne.vic.gov.au, www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au and www.ptv.vic.gov.au)
It’s fascinating to see how such groups negotiate things the mainstream culture takes for granted. Often their workarounds are very ingenious. Other times, however, they reach a website impasse that no amount of ingenuity can surmount.
We often end up identifying closely with our participants, particularly when working with disadvantaged groups. This passion and emotion can seep into our reporting, as we find ourselves becoming fervent advocates for their needs.
If you are interested in finding out more about user research, just contact us.