by Brett Gillin

Let me get this part out of the way first: if you haven’t already seen AAJ’s latest webinar (User Experience: You’re Doing it Wrong, and it’s Costing You!) then you need to stop reading this now (well not right now, but in a couple sentences). Click this link to view the on-demand webinar, and as an added bonus, be entertained by my silk-smooth voice for about 20 minutes.

Okay, you can stop reading now and check out that webinar.

All done? Excellent!

First off, you’re welcome. It’s not every day that you run into information like that and don’t have to pay someone or bestow some extravagant gifts. Secondly, now that I know you’re still reading, I’d love to expand upon a couple of the topics which I covered during the webinar.

This blog will go into a few more details on the first step of the User Experience Design Process: RESEARCH!

Just like when you were back in school, you can’t do anything well without at least a modicum of research. Just try writing a book-report without actually reading and you know exactly what that feels like.

Or, you can do what many of us did and rent the movie, hoping it’s close to the book. The results of that experiment will be about the same as the results you’ll get when designing a system or website by just going off your best guesses and hunches. Research is the most important step of the User Experience Design process.

When designing a system, you must first find out who your users are going to be. If you begin designing a system who’s primary users are teenagers, you’d better be sure that you are including the latest user interface trends (think touchscreen-type layouts, social media-esque collaboration, and a complete lack of pretention in your design). If your primary users are an elderly population, you can forget about touchscreen layouts and focus on simple, clean interfaces with a “no-wrong-door” policy to the design.

Once you figure out who your target audience is, you need to research what exactly they like and dislike about the systems they are currently using. There’s a very simple way to do this: ASK THEM! Send out some surveys, set up an interview or 20 or just look creepily over their shoulders. That last one might not be the best idea come to think of it.

Listen to the stories they tell. Before you know it, your own users will be directing you on how to design the system so it will best suit their needs. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how many headaches this will save you in the future.

Stay tuned to this blog for the next step in the process: organization.

And go ahead and comment below. I promise I’m listening! 🙂