Has it ever happened to you that a company gives you a problem and tells you how to solve it?
This could be fine (I guess) if the business can provide you with previous research that helps you make the right design choices. However, what do you do if the business hasn’t done any research and it’s assuming what’s needed to improve a product?
In one of my recent jobs, I was in charge of redesigning the Online Learning Platform that was used internally by the whole company. The business felt that they knew why the product wasn’t working and I was provided with a list of solutions to action.
At first, I thought, “Great! I can get started with wireframing and prototyping based on what the business has found out!”. Shame there wasn’t any research…
Time to roll up my sleeves!
I had to start doing some research myself and illustrate to the business the importance of having data, figures and patterns about users’ behaviours to ensure that we were tackling the right problem and therefore achieving results.
I spent a couple of weeks learning about the company, the way it worked and why users should have used the product.
This helped me select the right target to conduct user interviews and choose the right questions that helped them to know as much as possible about the current user experience. I also worked with developers to collect past data and, with some wicked Excel, I managed to present the data in a way that showed us what worked and what didn’t – I wish I knew about Hotjar at that point as it would have been perfect for our case!
As part of our data analysis, we measured how many users logged onto the platform in the previous year and how this changed month by month considering the past design interventions and the business content strategy. We also sliced our data based on specific profile fields of the logged-in users which helped us to understand how behaviour changes based on users’ location, job title and grade.
The best part of my research? I worked in a shop! Yep, that’s right.
I worked for a company that had over 2,000 shops all over the UK and a large part of the users we were designing for work on the shop floor. This is why I persuaded the business to let me work in a few shops to have a better understanding of how people used the platform and how the experience could be improved.
It was a great opportunity! It helped me to understand life on the shop floor, how the work is performed and the best way to allow users to access the online learning platform. I was a user myself and I was able to see missed opportunities, bad user journeys and poor content interactions.
I enjoyed watching people using the platform and I was able to see users’ pain-points.
This also really helped to define personas and help the business to evaluate the features and tools that were most needed to support the retail side of the business. I created amazing relationships which allowed us to have support during our usability testing.
Looking back, my job has involved more in getting the buy-in from the business and showing the importance of research to make insightful decisions. This can definitely be a bit challenging especially if there isn’t a consolidated UX culture in the business. However, I had an amazing open-minded team which allowed me to explore and experiment.
It was a great opportunity to conduct such research and see that the business reacted so well! It allowed me to think outside the box and work on what could be useful for the business as well as for users. It also helped me to develop great relationships with business stakeholders and understand how important it is to prove the benefit of UX Design – which is probably one of the biggest parts of the job!