The other day someone asked me, “How do you guys figure out what makes a positive user experience?”
The short answer is that we ask the people who use the platform. Of course, our customers are spread all over the world, which makes it impossible to visit everyone in person. A shame, really, considering how much I enjoy to travel.
It helps to think aloud
In lieu of traveling the world, we have other methods to test new functionalities with platform users no matter where they are based. In fact, I recently visited Berlin, Buenos Aires and New York in the space of two hours. We call these interactions ‘Think Aloud’ sessions, and they are just one of the ways we try to see our platform from our customers’ perspective.
Think Aloud sessions are essentially interactive Skype calls with customers. They perform platform actions and tell us what they think. It’s that simple, but enormously insightful.
We do Think Aloud sessions to test new UX features or when we want to refine existing ones. It’s a fantastic chance to test our hypotheses and assumptions; these sessions can sometimes really challenge these and redirect our focus.
One example of that was when we were testing element of our Publish feature. We had thought that our customers were most keen on being able to post content to multiple channels. But the Think Aloud sessions conducted around this revealed that what they wanted most was a clear publishing overview. We took this onboard and expanded our focus to also improving the Editorial Calendar.
Looks don’t deceive and actions speak
One of the benefits of doing this on Skype is that we can see facial expressions. A look of confusion or a smile can tell us a lot in terms of UX. We will also track their every move during the session. Sometimes their actions will suggest different priorities or wishes to the ones they have described to us.
But ultimately it is a verbal feedback session, we want to hear their every thought on what they have just experienced.
Tested for real life
We’ve found that our customers are always very pleased to be part of these sessions as well as our other UX development input initiatives. After all, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to help shape a tool they use every day?
For our part we get to see how people experience any new additions to the platform in a real-world context before they are released. We can then review and improve the UX based on their feedback. Ultimately, user experience is all about interaction. By getting the people on the other side involved as early as possible, we can provide an experience that is genuinely beneficial for them.