Your strategy has a lot to do with your results. I grew up with the phrase, “It’s easier to catch a bear with honey than with vinegar.” While I never had the goal to literally catch a bear, the strategy of finding out what appeals to bears is likely to be a successful strategy for catching one.
Narrow your focus, but not too much
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The granularity of the strategy you employ makes a big difference in your results. Your user experience (UX) strategy needs to be concise without being too narrowly focused. If your strategy is focused on the exact type of honey you should use to catch your bear, you might have a problem. What if the bear thinks your honey is too sweet, not sweet enough, too cold or too warm? Strategies that are focused at a micro level like this could have a negative impact on achieving your goal. It’s easy to miss the bigger picture if you are micro-focused with your strategy. It’s tempting to micro-focus a strategy; it feels closer to a solution. But it isn’t, it could be a self-inflicted error.
Understand your users’ goals
Having a UX strategy of identifying and understanding user goals is a great starting point. Goals drive needs, by focusing on goals you are less likely to prematurely end up in the weeds and miss some important insights. The goals that drive me to use Amazon are convenience and confidence. The convenience that I don’t have to drive around in my car, and that I can easily compare product options and price. Confidence that I am purchasing something that will please me, which I gain by reading the customer reviews. Those are my goals, convenience, and confidence. If you understand your user’s goals, you are that much closer to helping your user achieve them.
Typically, your users’ goals drive how they engage with your products, so your UX researcher is a great asset for learning about your users’ goals. Surveys and interviews might come to mind when trying to understand user goals. An unmoderated survey is fairly cost efficient for gathering data from a large group of users, but it’s not likely to offer deep insight about your users. Understanding user goals requires a moderated approach. One where a researcher can interact with a user to probe for elaboration based on the users’ initial answers. Because this type of data is more qualitative, you don’t need a large sample group to gather data from. A group of 10 to 15 participants might be the maximum you need.
Take it in steps
This moderated research process also lends itself to an iterative approach. One where you select five to seven participants to interview and begin building what you think are their common goals. Based on the conclusions you draw from that first set of participants, you can then set up additional sessions with three to five additional participants. Based on the extent of similarity in the data from your second session and your first, you might choose to run an additional round of interviews. If, after the second group, you are seeing very strong patterns of similarity between your participants, there is probably little value in repeating this process any longer.
Basically, when the obvious becomes obvious about the goals of your users, you move forward into integrating your users’ goals into your ongoing testing and research for the duration of your project.
Keeping the right granularity of your strategy and monitoring it with your ongoing UX processes can help you to build a solid UX strategy. Whether you want to catch bears or new business, understanding the goals that drive your user is one way to build a strategy for success. UX strategy, it’s a good thing.