2. Preliminary User Testing
With a basic idea of your target customers in mind, you’ll need to begin collecting data to achieve several goals:
- Verify the accuracy of your target market theories
- Define the parameters of your target market more precisely
- Understand the core characteristics of your target customers that will affect the design, including pain points, usability preferences, and even modes of thinking
If you’re updating an existing site, you could conduct extensive usability tests to pinpoint the exact areas of the site that need reworking. But regardless of whether you’re revamping a site or starting from scratch, you’ll want to conduct tests geared towards getting to know your customers.
The first tests are direct user interviews. User interviews are one of the oldest and most reliable methods, dating back to the focus groups first used during World War II. Essentially, if you want to know your user’s opinions on the products or the site’s UI, all you have to do is sit down and discuss it with them.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as asking them what they want and what they like. Charles Liu, the former Design Researcher at Kissmetrics, explains why you have to be a little more roundabout to get the user to expand on their true feelings. Rather than asking direct questions, he suggests these three alternatives:
- What are you trying to get done and why? — For eCommerce, this could hone in on the shopping process, such as shopping for others or oneself, or the style of shopping, such as drawn out for fun or as quickly as possible to get it over with. Even different genders have predictable differences in shopping habits, so you can imagine how specific preferences can be when you really narrow in on certain shopper types.
- Can you show me how you currently do this? — Observe firsthand your user’s default preferences for usability, such as whether they navigate via the menu or the search field, or how often they use the wishlist feature.
- Can you show me what’s frustrating about your current process? — This question narrows in on the pain points your shoppers face.
If you’re conducting the interviews in person, there’s a wealth of advice on eliciting better responses, making your interviewees feel comfortable, and basic interview etiquette. Michael Margolis, UX Research Partner at Google Ventures, summarizes his 16 pieces of advice for maximizing the results of your user interviews.
Just remember to only schedule such interviews with your target customers, not just anyone off the street. The point is to hone in on the habits of your specific shoppers, not the generalized population.