Briefing someone on a potential new UX project can be a difficult task. You’ve decided what is needed, budget accordingly and hire a UX agency or individual to do the job. However, sometimes you find at the end that you don’t necessarily get the results you were hoping for… sales don’t increase, click-throughs are still below average or people are still dropping out of your donation journey.
Why does this happen?
Let’s explore that very first assumption – “you’ve decided what is needed”. This is where many of us go wrong. I was reminded of this recently when we had an architect visit our house to discuss plans for extending it. She quickly dismissed our initial ideas and got us to think about exactly what we wanted to achieve from the space. By understanding our overall goals, she was able to make some very different suggestions about how to adapt and extend the rooms we have. Needless to say, we’re now going forwards with one of her ideas rather than our original plans. And, interestingly, it’s a cheaper option that will provide a better solution.
As a UX agency, we receive many briefs from potential clients that set out the exact set of services they want to use. Many times, this is a very specific brief for usability testing, but it could be UX research, IA or design services. Let’s take the usability testing brief as an example. Testing is a very well-known UX service and is one that many people reach for when things are not going well – “let’s run some usability testing to find out why no-one’s visiting our website”. We are then on the receiving end of a brief that requests costs for usability testing of that website.
But, although usability testing is a very powerful tool, it is not always the right tool. It may be the case that people are not engaging with your website because you’re targeting the wrong audience, because you aren’t providing the right features and functions to compete with others in your marketplace, or because it doesn’t work on a mobile phone or any one of a myriad of reasons.
Usability testing can give you very valuable information about how users tackle specific tasks on your site. It can show where people struggle to understand what to do and give insight into their reactions and responses. But, testing only gives one perspective on the user experience of your site. Other techniques will provide other perspectives. For example, an analytics review would provide insight into how actual visitors are using the website and where they are potentially experiencing problems. Usability testing conducted after an analytics review can then be targeted on those potential problem areas, giving even more value for money.
Other UX services that could be relevant could be some audience research (so that you can understand who is actually visiting your website and what they want from it) or a competitor review (so that you can ensure you stand out in a crowded market) or research and development of cross-channel user journeys (so that you know what content and features are needed where) or maybe usability testing is your best option. How can you tell?
The quick answer is that it’s very hard to tell – especially if you’re very close to the problem. So, it’s probably better not to guess or assume. Instead, provide a brief that goes back to basics and sets out exactly what the issues are and what your aims are. Start a conversation. Help us to understand your needs so that we can recommend the best plan of attack within your budget. We can make sure that you invest in the right UX service and therefore get the results you need.