Saturday, September 29, 2012

Here's the Problem With Your Product

As I mentioned on Twitter, I often answer emails that people send me asking questions about UX. I enjoy it. It helps keep me in touch with what type of questions entrepreneurs are having about their products.

Whenever I mention that I'm happy to answer UX questions (for free, guys! Seriously. I have a book to procrastinate, after all.) I tend to get one particular question over and over. It is some variant on "How is the UX for my product/site?"

I'm publishing an answer that is very similar to one I recently sent to a nice entrepreneur who asked me this question. I'm doing this because I basically end up writing the exact same thing over and over when people ask me this question, and I'd love to get some different questions. Please note, unless you are building one of a fairly small number of products that I use on a regular basis, this answer applies to you.

I can't give you insight into your site, because I'm not the target customer. If you ask for my opinion, it's going to be mostly useless, because it really doesn't matter what I think about your product. It matters what your user thinks about your product.

It's like if somebody asked you about your opinion of their spaceship. Presumably you don't fly spaceships, so your opinion is almost certainly not going to be super relevant to interspace travel methods. You want feedback about spaceships, you ask an astronaut or an extra terrestrial (no, I do not have suggestions on recruiting for that study).

In order to get in touch with some of your users, I'd recommend that you do the following:

Figure out exactly what you are concerned about with your site or product. 

  • Do you want to know if new users understand the messaging?
  • Do you want to know how people are finding specific information or performing tasks?
  • Do you want to know the general behavior of people coming to your site?
  • Do you care about the experience of current users, new users, returning users, etc.?
  • Do you care about what the look and feel of your site is telling new people? 
  • Are you wondering why your revenue is too low?
  • Are you concerned that people aren't coming back? 
  • Do you want to encourage people to share more? 
  • Are you having trouble converting free users into paying users? 
Figure out which metrics you care about that you'd like to change, and do some validation around why they are what they are. 

For example, if your conversion is too low, you're going to need to figure out if people don't want what you're selling, don't understand what you're selling, or don't care enough to pay you for what you're selling.

Based on what you want to learn, you need to find some way of learning that. You can ask me for specific advice on those sorts of things. The more specific you are about the type of user and the type of thing you want to learn, the easier it is for me to suggest doing something.

You can also ask me for advice on things like what to do when you've found out that people aren't sharing because they don't understand how to do that. Or if you've learned that people aren't converting from free memberships because they're not understanding the value that they'd get from your paid product. In fact, I'm happy to give you advice about how to proceed with your UX for anything that is at this level of specificity.

There is no such thing as generic "UX". Your user experience only makes sense in the context of your particular users, what their behavior is, and what you want their behavior to be.