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Customer Experience and Design

UX Decision-Making: Committee vs. Formative Research

The options you have when developing the various aspects of your website can be endless. Sometimes everyone in a team meeting wants to voice an opinion. Sometimes all the opinions are different. In the spirit of efficiency and effectiveness, how can we move forward with decisions and not get bogged down? Your user experience (UX) researcher might be the best asset to help you not get stuck.
Professional development and marketing teams are normally not lacking for different options. That can be a great advantage when you are in the idea phase of the decision-making process. However, moving a project forward during design and development phases can become more difficult when you have an almost endless supply of suggestions.
Frequently though, there is one voice that seems to be missing from the conversation: the customer’s voice. Several members of the team might mention “customer needs” and what they think is best for the customers. But for all their good intentions, do they really know? How can you quantify the voice of the customer? How can you make sure the customer has a voice in what will ultimately be offered? We don’t build products for stakeholders, product owners, development teams, or UX researchers. We build products for customers.
When you get dressed in the morning for work, who should have a voice in what you wear? When you have lunch, who should have a voice in what you eat? I’m guessing that the answer to both of those questions is you. In those situations, you are the customer, and you expect to have a role in the decision-making process.
Involving the customer can help guide the UX decision-making process while also making it more efficient. Conducting formative usability testing can provide insights that can move the decision-making process along faster because of the higher confidence it provides. It’s easier to make UX decisions when you have preliminary testing results.
Sometimes the multitude of ideas from your team is the result of a lack of confidence in knowing what the customer wants. In a situation like that the team can tend to “shotgun” the thinking just to make sure they have all the bases covered. While this covers all the bases, it is inefficient in pinpointing what approach will deliver the most value.
Formative research is focused on gaining short-term insights on where your project is today. It’s an approach to give you “instant gratification,” if you will, for knowing what to do next, as well as confidence in that knowledge. This approach is very different from trying a suggestion from the group that either came from the person with the most seniority in the room or the person with the most convincing pitch. Formative research methods also minimize the politics involved with picking one idea over another.
Working with your Perficient Digital UX researcher to conduct resource-efficient formative usability testing can provide product owners with insight and confidence for decisions to keep you moving forward. Decisions that are driven by research can lower the risk of not knowing what to do. It’s always a little unnerving to walk into a restaurant for the first time and find it empty. You are struck with apprehension and wonder what information you’re missing. Giving customers a voice at the decision-making table and using research to find out what they are saying is like walking into a restaurant where all the tables are full. You know you made the right decision.

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