User-focused product design
There’s a common misconception that talking to customers means asking them for design solutions. Instead, research should strive to understand the customer’s goals, motivations, and desires – let design experts create something that meets those goals. Meet Katie Mowery, senior human factors specialist.
“I have a degree in human factors psychology, which focuses on how people interact with and perceive products”, says Katie Mowery at Priority Designs, a product design and research consultancy. I’m trained in this type of research – understanding consumer interactions, experiences and perspectives with various products.”
“I’ve worked with many clients who have various levels of exposure to this type of testing. It’s most rewarding when I work with clients who haven’t done it before – because they become believers after one study.”
Value the user’s perspective
“Recently, I worked with a medical client. As part of their product development, they were mandated by government to undergo usability testing – meaning we brought in people to try and use the client’s product, to see if the end-users were confused, if they made any errors, and how we might fix the design. A few members of the client team were frustrated in the delay this process was causing. They didn’t understand the value of the exercise.
What they saw stunned them. The clients couldn’t believe the way end-users interacted with their product
“In the end we ran the pilots with the potential end-users, as the clients watched from a back room. What they saw stunned them. The clients couldn’t believe the way end-users interacted with their product – they were doing all sorts of things the engineers didn’t expect. The most cynical member of my client team had the ‘ah ha’ moment. He saw the value of getting a user’s perspective, stating that he would make sure to integrate usability testing into his process moving forward, not because it was required, but because he truly saw the value in creating a better design.”
“Our clients realize the need to integrate user feedback into the design cycle sooner. If they’ve designed a product to a fully production-ready state before they bring in users to get opinions, they’ve lost leverage and flexibility on their design decisions.”
Understand goals, motivations, and desires
“I believe that every method should be customized to the research objectives. But, in general, there are two larger buckets that the Voice of Customer (VOC) research falls into:
- Generative research
- Evaluative research.
Generative is more for innovation. It uncovers more user wants and needs to innovate. Evaluative research takes the current product and finds its pain points – and its opportunities.”
“There’s a common misconception that talking to customers means asking them what the design solution should be
Instead, through the research, you should strive to understand the customer’s goals, motivations, and desires – then rely on your design experts to design something that meets those goals and also aligns with your business objectives.”
What advice do you have for ASSA ABLOY?
“You can make VOC research work for you with whatever goals you’re trying to achieve. My best experiences have been when engineers are involved in defining the research goals. That doesn’t mean you’re always going to get the answer you want, but you’ll get the answer you need.”
What advice do you have for engineers and product managers?
“You are not the end-users. A lot of people make design decisions and they think: ‘I’m a person and I use locks, so I can advise on design decisions.’ But, when we are isolated amongst others who are highly tech savvy like ourselves, we forget there are people out there who think differently. You have to be humbled by that.”
By Rachel Sa