This page is about us: you and me. But not us in a client/designer relationship or a teacher/student role. Instead, this is about us as end users. We choose the experiences we want to enjoy. And as users, we can better understand what our customers need. Because long before we had the idea to create things for others, we were once, and still are, customers first.
If we can dream it, we can do it. Humans are excellent at coming up with ideas and possibilities of things to create, use, and share with others. Consider your day so far. You probably woke up, poured a cup of hot coffee or tea, sat in your favorite chair, and opened your phone. With the world at your fingertips, what did you see? What did you hear? Did you find any problems and think, “I can help solve that issue.” Here is where the process begins. We have so many ideas a day we dismiss or forget 99%. But the one idea sticking in our mind, bouncing around our brain, and causing us to imagine a solution, is the start of something new and exciting.
Honing in on a solution to a problem leads to several possible ways to deliver it to others. How do you know which one to choose? Will it be the best way? How do we determine the most desirable outcome? More importantly, who is to say it is the superior option? Well, that’s easy. The end-user should be the deciding factor. The research will only take us so far. We must design a prototype and allow the user to test it for function, ease of use, accessibility, and more. Based on users’ feedback, we can adjust our focus and goals, rework the product, and be sure our solution gives them the experience we intended.
For the record, there is no such thing as a ‘final’ design. After testing and adjusting, we may have a fantastic product, but this is just the first version of it. The testing done by our sample size of users may have revealed some of the barriers with our product, but in no way is this a comprehensive list of issues. Only after releasing the product for our entire base will we see its actual value. And we should expect all types of reviews: good, bad, and ugly. But that’s okay because this takes us to the last step in this process cycle.
Take advantage of this step. It is, arguably, the most important. At this stage, we can engage with our users on their levels. Businesses love positive reviews and think, “We provided a product, and most of our customers love it. All is well.” It’s easy to look past the 5-star ratings and focus on the poor reviews in hopes of changing the minds of unhappy customers and bettering the product. But there is a missed opportunity whenever we do not acknowledge our customers. Every touch point with a customer shows them we are thankful for their business and care about them. Every special recognition ensures them that we are more interested in their well-being than in the number of sales. Every connection convinces them that we are a brand worth continued support.
These four steps can and should be repeated, refined, and repurposed often. Continuing to improve the quality of our product will bring rewards: more customers, increased sales, and better reviews. The bonus is knowing we created something valuable. And as a customer first, we love receiving great value. 😃