The Necessity of User Research

I typically pull user reports from Google Analytics and our Email Marketing software (MailChimp currently) about 1x per month, just to scope out who is visiting where, what the top accessed pages are, and at what point do they exit the site?

One of my favorite features in Google Analytics is the User Behavior chart. It shows you what page users landed on, what their 1st interaction was, 2nd interaction, and 3rd interaction. It shows you the % of users that drop off after the 1st, 2nd and 3rd click, and the average amount of time users spent on each page, and the total session. This is imperative to know your audience, and to understand their needs.

This information tells me what are the most popular areas of a site or application, and what are the highest drop off points. I look at that as “which area needs the most improvement?” “How can we improve upon the content, copywriting, imagery, to create a better user experience and keep the user interested?”

 

How can we improve upon the content, copywriting, imagery and development to improve the user experience?

 

One of my other favorite tools in Google Analytics, is the mobile / technology tool. It shows you which browsers and devices are the most popular among users. And this is helpful when diagnosing and targeting bugs within an application, and prioritizing this. Let’s say for example that, 50% of your users are experiencing a particular bug on Chrome, and 12% of your users are experiencing a different bug on Firefox. Bug 1 and Bug 2 might have equal or different amounts of time to resolve the bug, but we would target Chrome users first, since there’s a higher market share of users there.

 

This also works hand-in-hand with checking how many of your users are on mobile, vs desktop, vs tablet. Every website and application that I’ve worked on has always had a whole separate category of issues for mobile, and with the nature of responsive design, it is often important to have an optimized mobile experience first. However, you may find that 75% of your web users are in-fact using the desktop application. Not many are going to the web application on their mobile phone, because they prefer to use the native iOS or Android mobile app instead! (I’m sure social media companies like Facebook probably go through this all the time. If you ever try to use one of these web apps from a mobile browser, they practically beg you to download the native mobile app. But viewing on a desktop browser isn’t as bad!)

 

Based on information like this, I would be testing most issues in Chrome on a desktop computer 1st, and then testing on other browsers and devices secondary to that. But to take this a step further, we can examine which mobile devices are most popular among our users. This helps when you’re developing a new app for the first time, or maybe adding a new app to a family of apps. (If so, congrats on your new baby app!)

This is also where you compare your target audience to your actual audience. Let’s say that your target audience is 50% iOS, and 50% Android users. The actual audience consists of the users that you pull out of your reporting. These are the users currently visiting your site or using your other apps. Let’s say your research tells you that 60% of your users are on iOS, with about 35% on Android, and the remaining 5% are on “other” (could be Windows phones? who knows.) Depending on your development resources, you might choose to target your iOS users first, since it’s a larger market share. So developing your app natively for iPhone 1st, and then 2nd targeting it for iPad, which is at least still coded in the same language (Objective C / Swift), but just adapted for more screen sizes. And then targeting your Android users 3rd, with your Java / Android Engineers. But, you might fortunate enough to have a development team of both iOS and Android engineers! In which case, you could more easily afford to reach your target audience of nearly 50/50  iOS / Android users. This would make your Marketing department happy because they would just love to convert more Android users over to the platform!

 

Understanding what your users needs are, and where they are coming from, will help you to create the apps that will help them sell their business! (Or whatever it is your app seeks to do.)

 

After all, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. – Plato.

Happy Inventing! 🙂