Keep your business focused on customers with these 4 UX design techniques

On this blog, I share a more holistic viewpoint at UX design that goes beyond shaping the interface only. Previously I explained the key values of UX design techniques for businesses. This time let’s focus on techniques from the UX designer’s toolkit. That will help you keep your business focused on the customers. 

Before we start

All the techniques described below require actual customer behavior data. You might have already collected it or still have to acquire it. Here we look for qualitative data that you can gather through interviews with your actual or potential customers.

Getting in touch and talking to your customers is essential for keeping your business focused on solving their problems. You cannot build a loved, needed product without knowing whom you are building it for. I won’t stop on how to do UX research and collect data in this blog post, but feel free to ping me if you’d like to learn more about it. 

Real data breathe life into research outcomes and work as a reality check on your assumptions. The techniques I recommend below will help make sense of this data, identify opportunity areas as well as fields for improvement. 

Practice empathy by creating and sticking to personas

Persona is a fictional character that embodies a collected image of different types of real customers based on their typical behavior, goals, and needs. 

ux design persona characteristics marketing
ux design persona portrait characteristics marketing campaign

UX designers endow personas with real human qualities to evoke empathy that helps understand customers’ problems better and get inspired by their life challenges. There are realistic name, face, demographical data, personal traits and story, motto, frustrations, goals, fears, etc.

(Examples of personas I’ve created for my studies).

Personas are generally based on actual customer data transformed into a personal story (typically in the context of a given project) in a format of a flashcard or one-page dossier. You can see a couple of examples above.

P.S. the fancy design is not critical at all but might help to draw the attention of other stakeholders. 

The flashcard/one-page format allows you to get quickly back to the key data when needed. Print it out and keep it in front of your eyes. Place it on the wall of the meeting room, share it with stakeholders, etc.

By sharing personas with all the stakeholders involved you make sure that everyone is one the same page and works on achieving the same goals. Whenever the team is not sure which way to go, what decision to take, they turn back to personas and ask themselves: “What Jane would prefer?” or “Which way would pass Jason’s goals better?”

Usually, there are several personas created for a project so that the interests of different groups of users are kept in mind. 
Many big and small businesses use personas. Despite the possible skepticism at first from a team unfamiliar with this technique, the time spent on creating personas always pays off. Here is a story about how Spotify utilizes this technique.

Customer journey maps 

Customer journey maps show how users interact with a product or service throughout different touchpoints. What’s critical is that they capture what customers say, think, do, and feel at these touchpoints throughout their experience (based on actual data, as I stressed out before). 

You can use customer journey maps to analyze a particular interaction, see how exactly customers’ emotions change, what are the exact causes of frustration that need to be fixed. 
Here is an amazing example of a customer journey map from UXmatters blog (there you can also read how customer journey maps served one of The Boeing Company’s projects):

customer journey map marketing
(Source: UXmatters).

User-centered design canvas (UCDC)

This tool was introduced by Leszek Zawadzki – the university lecturer whose classes I was lucky to attend. He is simultaneously a co-founder of The Rectangles – UX design agency. Leszek suggested a simple but effective framework that helps to analyze customers’ needs alongside with your business goals. It ends up with the unique value proposition that matches the interests of both sides.

User-centred design canvas customer needs and business goals
(Source: The Rectangles).

And as I don’t want to repeat what was already so well explained, I highly recommend you read in detail how to use this tool and make the best out of it from the author himself.

Usability testing

The easiest way to perform it is by observing your customers using your product/service. Ask clarifying questions during or after they complete the task. While testing it’s important to stress out that you don’t try to test the knowledge or skills of these people, but the product itself. You should strive for creating an environment that is as casual and realistic as possible, where users would feel no pressure or whatsoever.

This technique doesn’t require enormous resources. Asking 5-7 people to test a product at the early stages is considered to be enough. Also, you don’t need a ready product for it. You can try Wizard of Oz testing or use a basic MVP to validate your ideas early-on.

I hope you enjoyed the reading and learned something new today. I strongly encourage you to try out at least some of these techniques with your team. Let me know how it goes 😉