You are not like your user

Code screen

Every web project has a phase of discovery, one where requirements are pulled together and solutions created to meet those requirements. How these are gathered can sometimes be the difference between a really great project or a mediocre one.

When thinking about what your website needs to do there is a danger that you assume everyone is like you, when in reality it really is unlikely. They won’t have the same knowledge or passion for your company or even industry as a whole. Even if you get beyond the company and run designs past employee relatives and spouses they still won’t be your typical user even if they match the profile. Gathering requirements in this way creates bias and even more importantly doesn’t look at solving problems with the people who have the problems in the first place - that is if you know what they are at all. You might end up making processes easier for the staff within your team but you’re more than likely to embed problems even further into the organisation.

So, how do we do it at Askew Brook? Well it depends on the time and the budget. The most extensive consultation we’ve done was for Discover Yorkshire Coast that included running focus groups sessions for employees and interested parties, travelling the length of the coast to talk to tourism groups, watching people use the old site and learning from what other destinations had done. You can read a full case study about that project.

If time and budget is a bit more tight you can create User Personas (which doesn’t solve the problems above but gives you a different viewpoint), surveys, observation and even looking at tools like Google Analytics (typical flow, drop off points etc) will help you understand your user.

Can we help?