In our last blog, we talked about how involving users early in projects results in better products for users, more efficient development, and other benefits to project stakeholders. Today, I’ll break down 5 user interview techniques you can start implementing right away to take advantage of the benefits.
5 Easy (and free!) Tips for Getting User Feedback:
1. Identify target users.
Think about who will use the product. They will help you understand what they care about, and how their existing workflows will change with the new solution. These folks are important for their knowledge now, and for the champions they will become in your facilities once the solution is implemented.
Not sure where to start? Talk to your department leadership. They know who the power users in their respective departments are (i.e., the users most engaged in the workflows). You'll likely find they're SMEs in your current technology solution, who know how it's performing and (most importantly) where it's lacking - critical aspects when looking for a new solution.
2. Communicate openly and establish trust with target users.
In my user testing and research, I've found it helpful to stress upfront that this is a learning exercise to find out what their day-to-day tasks are now (on the existing system) and to understand what they do - not a reflection of them or their abilities. Assure them you're trying to make their job easier for them, not replacing them.
3. Go to them in their environment.
Consider shadowing them to see what their process looks like in practice. Some tasks are so ingrained in a person’s mind that they don't think to call it out as a task or step in their workflow. If that's not possible, that's okay. I would then give them a scenario they typically deal with and ask them to walk through it as if they were explaining it to a new employee or someone otherwise new to their process.
4. Focus interview questions.
Really seek to understand the user’s experiences with the problem and their pain points.
This is very important for several reasons. The goal is to uncover the problem. Often the most obvious solutions only address symptoms. As you form your approach to addressing the problem, you don't want to constrain your solution design by soliciting directly from users. Keeping users focused on the root problem and pain points also keeps their mind open to solutions they might not have considered. You may have to read between the lines of what they say to gain maximum insight. Often, when people do something day-to-day, it's harder for them to see the big picture of solving the overall problem instead of just their pain points.
5. Re-engage users during the vendor evaluation phase.
Implementation is expensive and causes drag on your staff. Ensure your technology investments meet your requirements and objectives by circling back with your users during the evaluation phase of your project decision. Users trying the proposed solution in their workflow could expose gaps in the solution. This will help your team to identify project risks before purchasing. Plus, they will be your champions when the time comes to implement.
Have thoughts on other best practices for incorporating user feedback? Share them with us below!