Why is User Research Important?

5 min read

If done right, user research can form the backbone of your web projects. If you want to go out and build a new company website or an App that helps your users get from A to B this can obviously cost a lot of money and you want to go in with as much confidence that you’re making something that puts the user first. User research helps you define who your users/customers are and if the product you’re developing for them is representative of the user's needs and desires. This blog outlines some of the key reasons why user research is so beneficial.

Defining the type of product you want to develop

User Research isn’t just about finding out whether your users will like the product or not but helping to define the market fit of the product. For example, it helps you answer questions like: does the product solve a problem common enough for people to need a solution for it? And: does the product we want to make solve that problem? Even if you have a clear understanding of who your users/customers are, answering these questions will help you develop a product that targets the right users/customers and is built with those users/customers in mind.

Finding out what is and isn't working

When getting end-users to try your prototype you’ll quickly learn what isn’t working and you can figure out what needs to be done to fix these problems. Plus you’ll learn what is currently working so you won’t have to change everything! This gives the team a good morale boost but it also gives you an indication of the direction the web project needs to go in order for it to be successful.

Creating a product that your users actually want to use

Having end-users test the prototype not only teaches you what is and isn’t working but it can give strong indications of whether or not users actually like the product. In other words, are you making a product that engages your users and will it keep them coming back to use it again? At Somar Digital we completed user research with ACC on their Live Stronger For Longer website that aims to help people who are 65+ with keeping active. We've gained valuable insight by meeting with the target audience into what does and doesn't work with the current website and what we can do to improve it when we redesign it. The product you are making can’t just work but also delight the same people that use it. 

Prioritise your backlog with more confidence

No matter how efficiently the project goes you’re never going to get everything done. There are always going to be a few features that need to be put in the backlog and built into the product at a later date. By getting your users/customers to test the prototype it will give you a better sense of what feature are “must-haves” versus “nice-to-haves”. This way you can prioritise the “must-have” features so that you have greater confidence that you’ll be able to build a workable product by the end of the project. At Somar Digital, we’ve found that this has been a great way to increase the success rate of a web project and we’ve always found time at a later date to work with our clients to better improve their web products.

Saving time and $$$

This point is pretty self-explanatory. Completing user research before the project means less time having to redesign the web project. Some companies and organisations get put off initially because they think it’s too expensive. Admittedly it can seem like a chore but in the long run, it will end up saving money because it gives you the best shot of getting the web project right straight off the bat. It’s not uncommon for companies to invest a heap of money into a web project without doing any user research and then find that once the product is live their users and customers don’t like it. This has a negative effect on conversion rates and website metrics forcing companies to have to fork out even more money to redesign and redevelop the web project. Not to mention the reputational damage on your company of releasing a product that isn’t working.

At Somar Digital we’d much rather help our clients get it right the first time and by taking part in user research before we kick off a project. It helps with the web design and web development stages of the project and it gives our clients greater peace of mind and confidence that we’ll build something that their customers will use and love. 

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by Somar Digital