When introducing new features into the daily lives of users, you must keep the users’ needs at the forefront of the technology’s role and design.
All too often, we’ve seen big companies roll out new tools and technologies that either go unnoticed or do not deliver on their promises to the end user. In these cases, it’s clear that the organization was out of touch with their user base during the development stages. According to PCMag, Big Data is poised to surge into $247 billion territory by 2023 — thus, more and more jobs across diverse verticals have become reliant on analyzing complex data sets within their organizations.
In designing and developing our data visualization and insight discovery software, we placed our end user experience at the center of our growth and development processes. Here are some lessons we’ve learned along the way.
Emphasize Beta Users and Their Feedback
There is no value in soliciting end-user feedback early on in your project if your organization is not going to act on the input in building future tools. Not only do users want to feel their ideas have been heard, they need to see their feedback incorporated. If you’ve found the right end users to interview and bring into your project’s development process, they will be the ones to actually use what you’re developing — and ultimately share with their teams and respective networks.
Create opportunities to solicit feedback beyond surface-level engagements with your beta testers. This could be through comment threads on a project blog, or via email and social media. You can begin to build trust and rapport for your growing brand by simply taking the time to respond to every message personally — even if it is with a simple message such as: “Thank you! We’re glad you took the time to offer your input.”
Of course, you won’t be able to incorporate every individual’s ideas, and many suggestions may be impractical or not the most useful for your organization. But be sure to treat everyone professionally nonetheless. Go back to them with concrete reasons for whether their points could be built into the project now, in the future or not at all,. Setting up multiple checkpoint calls to touch on this feedback loop is one of the easiest and simplest ways to help garner additional buy-in for your solution, and it takes very little effort to set up.
Our team at SynGlyphX has utilized many of these simple techniques so that we can offer a way to approach engaging users as we continue to build our valued user base.
Develop a Comprehensive Training Process
If your tool is going to change the way people work, think about what training and guidance you can offer them so that they can utilize your software to the best of their ability. Early adopters often train themselves by experimenting with various use cases and forging their own creative successes. While this group can become excellent product evangelizers and will occasionally post how-tos on forums or in blog posts, you shouldn’t assume their use cases will result in the same experience for a broader population.
Users are often worried that they won’t have the skills or knowledge to try something new, so it’s important that your training materials reassure them. You can offer free online tutorials, helpful videos and coaching via sources like YouTube — or even a classroom model where the organization trains a group of people who then go on to share and train their peers.
Develop your own early adopters by engaging them with your online presence and social media channels. Let people know that they can expect comprehensive training so that they have more confidence in being able to use the products your team is delivering.
Cultivate a User Community
What’s more powerful than users acting on their own instincts and discovering insights within their data? Getting those very same users to teach those principles to others from the comfort of their own offices. This community of users is vital, as it quickly becomes a support network of valuable information for users worldwide. Companies such as Tableau have done an impeccable job at cultivating these types of communities, hosting events, awarding power users and partnering with third-party organizations.
In an article he wrote for the BBC, Bill Gates offered this advice: “Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.”
Tapping into user feedback ultimately gives business leaders insights into the future of unlimited possibility.