Do you remember the first time a feature in an application surprised you? Have you ever thought, “Wow, that’s actually making my life easier?”
I remember the first time I clicked on a phone number while browsing a website on a mobile phone and it opened the dialer. “All I have to do is press send?” I thought. I used to have to write the number down and then type it back in.
Have you ever thought about how features like that get implemented? How did anyone ever figure out that people were looking up company phone numbers on their mobile phone’s browser and then immediately wanting to make a call?
I bet it was through user experience analysis. Someone observed that users were not only using their phone to do the initial lookup but also noticed the pain point that the users were writing down phone numbers and punching them in to make a call.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” - Henry Ford
This quote is often used to talk about the importance of innovation and that users don’t always know what to ask for. But how well do you know the pain points of your users? Are you aware of how they are using your applications day to day? How do you identify the features they may not even know how to ask for? A UX Product Review can help.
As a delivery consultant, I am constantly working with partners to help them build their roadmaps. We talk about the company’s goals, how their applications will support those goals, and how that impacts prioritization decisions. We look at technical improvements that are needed to modernize the application as well as feature enhancements.
I was recently able to incorporate a usability study conducted by one of our UX experts into this process for one of our manufacturing partners with phenomenal results.
In January, we sat down with our partner company and planned the usability study. The partner chose a date and time for a Source Allies UX expert to come to their location and interview users. Our development team prepped the UX expert so she understood the basic functions of the application and then she headed out to the partner site armed with donuts and coffee.
She spent a few days interviewing users and watching how they interacted with the application. She was able to talk to five different groups of users ranging from people working on the shop floor to employees behind the scenes in the accounting office.
She translated what she learned in those interviews into a list of four major pain points with specific details about why these were difficult for users. She worked with our development team to translate these pain points into future state recommendations that included both modernization and usability improvements.
When we met with the manufacturing partner, they could easily see how these recommendations impacted their team and who would benefit from each feature. In this conversation, we were able to more clearly articulate the future state vision for the application. The partner determined it would be beneficial to begin working on three of the four pain points identified and made plans to re-evaluate solutions for the fourth pain point later this year.
The development team took this information and created a product roadmap for the next year. At the end of the process the partner’s leadership team has a vision for where their product is headed and a roadmap of product improvements where they can easily demonstrate how each feature provides value to their team. The planning process for the development team is much faster and everyone has peace of mind that features being implemented are enhancing the user experience. The entire process was able to be completed in less than a month and the leadership team was able to make informed decisions after only a few hours.
A product review is a great way to ensure you have a positive user experience, but it is also a strategic business decision. It can not only help you create a competitive advantage but also identify operational inefficiencies and business risks. A user analysis can uncover faster ways of doing things if the software no longer meets the needs of the user due to evolving business processes. If users are not using the software as intended, a product review can even uncover business risks related to less secure workarounds created by users who are trying to accomplish tasks in a simpler way.