User Experience is an integral part of any successful mobile app. I regard it as the key ingredient in the recipe of designing and building a mobile app. User Experience encompasses not only the look and feel of the app but the experience of the app to the user. Your success is in tightly aligning the user, business, and technical goals. If you have not added more UX into your mobile app mix than any other ingredient, you are likely to create a batch of something that is not in line with what your users want.
In this posting, I want to focus on the first step in assembling a great user experience, conducting good user research. In NTT Data’s Mobile Practice, we focus on the users first. Let’s begin by assembling the ingredients of your user experience. To do so we seek to ask the following questions about your users:
- Who are your users?
- Are they male or female?
- What age are they?
- What is their profession? Do they use technology as a day-to-day part of their profession? How comfortable are they with technology?
- What types of things do they do on their mobile devices?
- Where are they when they’re accessing these tools? Are the indoors or out? Is it cold or hot? Is it bright sunlight or somewhere darker?
- Do they use a tablet or a smartphone to perform these tasks?
- Why are they using a mobile device to perform these tasks rather than a computer?
Answers to these questions help us build a profile of the users of your app. In most cases we capture information for multiple users of your app and build more than one user profile. Why is this necessary? This will help us figure out which user we should focus on first. We can then prioritize your list of users and align them to their key tasks.
Once we’ve gained an in-depth understanding of who your users are we can then begin to discuss the main tasks your users are using your app for. We capture this by identifying the key scenarios your users need access to. An example in a consumer financial app would be the ability to access account information, or in a healthcare app the ability to view your health insurance card. We document these scenarios and the relevant steps the user needs to take to complete each task. We’ve completed the step of creating User Personas and User Scenarios.
Let’s capture and present that information in a format that you can reference throughout the design and development of your mobile app. To do that, we create a User Needs Matrix. This document aligns user segments to scenarios and allows you to prioritize this information.
It is useful in determining which user you should focus on first. For example, if you capture scenarios for five different users and ten different scenarios you might see that one of your users only needs access to one task. If your desire is to create an app and get something quickly to market, you could address that user first as he only needs access to one scenario. The User Needs Matrix helps you make smart decisions about your mobile strategy.
Creating the User Needs Matrix is the final step in gaining some preliminary insight into your users of your application.
Stay tuned for my next blog post in which I will discuss how we can leverage this user research to begin creating the information architecture of your app.
Post Date: 2014-01-26