How do we do user research at 40/60?

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    User research is one of the first steps in the methodology of”Design Thinking”. This is an essential step in the observation phase, which consists in putting yourself in the shoes of our users to Understand Their Needs And to Better Integrate Existing Uses And the Issues That they meet to, in the end, offer them a product or service the most Tailored.

    As designers, we are trained from our first years of study to do user research, because it is a very important and necessary process to offer the best experience to our users. Without this, we can easily start developing a product or service that will not be suitable, and therefore disappointing or not used. It is as if a doctor gave a medication to his patients without making a diagnosis first. At 40/60, to guarantee effective user research, we do not hesitate to surround ourselves with experts such as anthropologists who complement the designer's research - which consists of Analyze uses, understand the reasons and limitations - with an analysis more focused on Reason For which the user will act in this or that way.

    Understanding our users is one thing, but so what do we at 40/60 do we do to realize and learn from them? Faced with a health crisis imposed for more than a year, how did we evolve these methods and our business to adapt to this new context?

    Develop and validate hypotheses

    Before going headlong into user research, it is important to learn about our subject and to prepare an interview guide that will serve as support during our user interviews. The aim is to create more of a dialogue between the designer and the user than a series of answers to questions. To do this, we can put forward certain hypotheses, about uses, needs, reasons that push users to act in a certain way and the interviews that we will give later will serve to affirm or disprove some of them, or even create new ones.

    Illustration d'un guide d'entretiens

    As the interviews we conduct, we refine our perception of the challenges of the project and those of the users. Our interview guide is evolving and becoming more and more precise, our questions and our behavior in front of a user are more adapted. We can then start illustrating our lessons through various observation tools such as the persona or the customer journey map. The persona is above all a tool to empathize with the target users of the product or service. It represents one or more users who are likely to interact with our product/service. The customer journey map, on the other hand, is a representation of the user journey over a given time and which is used to begin the observation analysis phase because it demonstrates the weak points and the frustrations of the current service/product. To create real coherence between these two tools, we give the persona a Driver Which is used to perimeter a user use case and thus avoid us from going in all directions when creating the journey map.

    For example, we worked with Maline, a web platform aimed at helping real estate agencies with property management. The users we met and interviewed were agency managers and real estate agents because they are the ones who interact with the platform. So we created various personae with different uses and needs with different drivers. For example, one of the personae we developed for Maline was the real estate agent, a determined but somewhat disordered person for whom organizing and documenting follow-up reminders and preparing calls are essential drivers for using the platform.

    Exemple d'une user research

    From hypotheses to lessons

    User research encompasses different timelines, starting with information gathering to problematization through analysis. The journey map exercise is halfway between information gathering and analysis, because it illustrates the user's frustration points along the way. This is a very good starting point for cross-referencing the information we have gathered through our interviews and observations. Indeed, being completely attentive to users is essential to establishing a 360 vision of the problem. Asking open-ended questions allows the user to express themselves on other topics. As a designer, our duty is also to take a step back and know how to interpret the weak signals that our interlocutors are sending us and to detect the messages they are sending us.

    Very often, it is at this point in the project that we cross the various observations and learn from them. On the Maline Project, a lot of similar insights, needs or frustrations emerged, regardless of the personas or their journey map. For example, all our users interviewed found themselves with problems related to a certain lack of product customization, and therefore to an experience on the platform that was not well suited to their profile, or even major problems of ergonomics and information hierarchy that were losing users in their use of this platform.

    All of these lessons come together in one way or another, we learned a lot from them and that gave us a starting point to start imagining the solution. Indeed, each teaching has resulted in a theme, for example “personalization”, “ergonomics” or even “organization of information”. We then made global recommendations by theme, such as simplifying the dashboard interface for better reading, rethinking the notification system to be able to better manage your time and the information coming into the platform, etc.

    Exemple d'une user research

    Lessons Towards the Final Solution

    Having already carried out user interviews and carried out the entire analysis process, we arrive at certain conclusions that serve as a basis for imagining the solution. We are reaching this pivotal moment between two phases of design thinking: observation and ideation. But before embarking on the great adventure of the emergence of ideas, we consolidate our thoughts and translate our lessons learned during user research into user journeys.

    These paths will illustrate the best possible experience for our user by taking into account their needs and expectations in relation to the solution. They are illustrated with various media such as “user flows” and are part of a new tree structure of the platform, then by zonings and wireframes later.

    Exemple d'un blue print

    It is at this stage of creating a tree structure that we reach the end of the observation phase. We were able to explore a lot of problems, analyze them and find the right leads that, later, will lead us to the best solution. For more than a year, we have been constantly improving our process constantly so that our various phases, and especially that of user research, are the most appropriate. Although we miss face-to-face human contact when we go on field observation, we continue to put all our energy into this essential phase and we have been able to adapt to the restrictions linked to the Covid-19 health crisis with new tools and new processes. For example, videoconferencing tools have become the main means of communication with interviewed users. Therefore, the “feeling” that is naturally created face-to-face was more difficult to obtain on camera, so we took the time to discuss with our interlocutors, to reassure them, to give them confidence so that they would be in a healthy state of mind to answer our questions.

    User research has its place in an innovation process, it is used to test hypotheses and create value for the creation of products or services. Interviews, our posture, the fineness of the analysis, everything is important in defining lessons Fair And Objectives. Even if the health crisis did not simplify our task at the beginning, we were able to adapt and take better advantage of this new context. We continue to evolve our methods, improve our processes and tools in order to make the world of tomorrow in line with Humans.

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