This chapter has focused on qualitative research aimed at gathering
Marketing organizations are particularly fond of gathering user data via
, in which representative users, usually
Although focus groups may appear to provide the requisite user contact, the method is in many ways not appropriate as a design tool. Focus groups excel at
The marketing profession has taken much of the guesswork out of determining what motivates people to buy. One of the most powerful tools for doing so is market segmentation, which groups people by their distinct needs to determine what types of consumers will be most receptive to a particular product or marketing message.
Marketers classify consumers according to a set of demographic and geographic variables such as age, race, education, income and location, the raw data of which is usually gathered by a combination of market surveys and focus groups. More sophisticated consumer data also include psychographics and behavioral
However, understanding why somebody wants to buy something is not the same thing as actually defining the product—what it is, how it will work, and how it will be used. Market segmentation is a great tool for defining markets, but an
It turns out, however, that data gathered via market research, and that gathered via qualitative user research complement each other quite well. As already discussed,
Usability, or user testing, focuses on measurable characteristics of a user's interaction with a product. Assessing the usability of a product focuses on standardized tests that yield quantifiable data. In usability testing, results often reveal trends pointing toward problem areas, as well as successful aspects of the product.
Usability testing requires a design artifact to test against. This places usability testing
Because the findings of user testing are
Usability is especially effective at testing:
Naming : Do section/button labels make sense? Do certain words resonate better than others do?
Organization : Especially true for products that deliver information (as opposed to providing a service). Is information grouped into the right number of categories? Are items located in the places customers might look for them?
First-time use and discoverability : Are common items easy to find for new users? Are instructions clear? Are instructions necessary?
: Can customers
When user testing, be sure that what you are testing is actually measurable and that the results will be useful in correcting design issues. Jakob Nielsen's
(1993) is the classic volume on usability, and provides
Take the time to plan your user research. Match the appropriate technique to the appropriate place in your development cycle. Your product will benefit, and you'll avoid wasting time and resources. Putting a product to the test in a lab to see whether it