Comprehending the requirements of users

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After having taken a decision on what type of site or feature you are introducing, you can take the required help from users to develop it. It’s sensible to have proper knowledge on the way users function before you take a decision on how your site will function.

According to Jeffrey Veen, author of The Art & Science of Web Design, design cannot be separate at present from user research. In reality, we do nothing until we start talking to people, said Veen, and added that we try to get involved in projects without any assumptions and only listen to the way people face the task.

You should have knowledge on how your users function before you decide on how your site will function. This is why Veen kicks off with what people can do instead of first developing a site and observing if people can use it. He tries to answer the question-How do they carry out their activities in the absence of this site?

According to Veen, this is why if you are creating a banking site, you can just copy a participated application, such as the ATM that is already present. However, it’s an excellent idea to talk to people and know the way they balance their checkbooks, says Veen and suggests to observe the steps and listen. He adds that if you talk to ten individuals, you’ll come to know the method to create your application.

Preparing a new site

Let’s assume that you are preparing a gardening site that will offer recommendation and the necessary materials. Because of the fact that you are the owner of the site, there is a great possibility that you have some knowledge on plants. You possible are a suitable person who has a herb garden on his rooftop in Manhattan. You may also belong to the lot who plants his organic orchard after only a month of purchasing his fist home at the age of 22.

Belonging to such a class of individual, you possibly have your own concepts with respect to the features of your site. However, as we’ve deliberated, you are not creating the site for your own use. This is why you need to understand the way your target audience accomplish their important tasks. In this particular case, the task is planning and planting the garden. By comprehending the way they function at present, you can recognize their requirements and the techniques to cater to them. Also, if you are able to comprehend the thought process of the users with respect to their tasks, you can develop a navigation system, which they’ll possibly understand.

Examination of task

Examination of task is a stylish method of saying "talk to people about how they get something done." This comprises of interviewing the everyday user about the way he faces and accomplishes a particular task that is associated to your website. However, remember that you are not questioning them about the site itself. You desire to have knowledge on their activities and not the things they would find appealing in your site.

Six steps in examination of tasks

  1. Elucidate the objective of the user that you’re examining.
  2. Volunteer individuals to interview. They can be your present customers or individuals who match your everyday user description.
  3. Carry out interview with users on the way they achieve their objectives, not only in your website but in general.
  4. The interview can be recorded by taping it or typing out the answers.
  5. Recognize the important tasks and sub tasks mentioned by your user.
  6. Transform the tasks into features on your site.

Normally, the interview includes the entire range of tasks the user ought to complete while making his journey to the final objective. (If the objective involves planting a garden, the tasks may comprise of taking a decision on what to plant, purchasing the seeds, designing the garden and so on). The interviewer poses a series of candid questions. This facilitates the user to elucidate on her approach in he own language. An interviewer who is competent will follow up to obtain complete answers but will stay away from telling her what he (the interviewer) thinks she should say or say her views in a different way to match his ideas.

After all, the objective is not only to have an idea about the task, but also the thought process of the user in accomplishing the task. The objective is not only to build a concept about the task, but also have an idea on the way users think with respect to the task. Later on look at and understand the copy with the purpose of identifying the tasks. Generally, you’ll be able to recognize judicious tasks that are within the responses of the users. The next step involves arranging alike tasks together. For example, you may come to know that one reader read magazines, paid a visit to a botanical garden and went on a drive in his neighborhood. He did this only to gain knowledge on the way his garden would appear.

These tasks altogether can be classified under “getting ideas”. A convenient approach to classify tasks is to write each sub-task on a Post-it note. Following this you can assemble them into classes of associated tasks. A discreet Post-it chart for each user that has been interviewed can be created. By making a comparison, you can get an idea for various users and also the way in which their requirements may overlap or deviate.

Transforming tasks into features of the site

You should have the ability to sketch out the tasks that have been brought up in your interviews to a list of the would-be-features of the site. Any conspicuous task that does not have a matching feature, or a conspicuous feature without a matching task generated by the user, which is still worse is a warning of danger. For instance, if your CEO is bent on creating a custom-made weather chart but no users found “checking the weather” as a task relevant to the objective of the site, you’ve got a good point to start off an argument. In the same way, if multiple users bring forward a task that is not addressed by you, you need to think about roping it in.

Obtaining good results from analysis of tasks

Analysis of task is a way for examining the way users accomplish a task associated to your site.

  • Appoint representative users. In a perfect situation, each user has to fit in an exact manner within one of your audience sectors that is defined beforehand. In case, you are involving a friend or an acquaintance (to cut down the expenses), ask them to represent a group. For quality and adequate amount, you need to reward users for their time with cash or prizes.
  • Ask superior, candid questions. It’s mandatory to be ready to entertain new ideas and to ask candid questions. Don’t allow your own objectives of your business spoil what you question or the way you make sense of the answers. Also, get to know about the language of the subject prior to kicking off interviews. You need to have an idea of what you are talking about, and the way to talk about it.
  • Discover an excellent venue for holding the interviews. The best thing is to carry out one-on-one interviews. This will permit visual signals. The perfect spot should be a private, quiet space located outside the company office. Holding interviews on the phone are an acceptable method of accomplishing a huge expanse. However, the results will be inferior compared to face-to-face interviews as these result in greater detail and an enhanced feeling of being connected.
  • Create a perfect transcript. Keep in mind to record the interview even if you have appointed a person to type it out concurrently. The typist has to record both the questions and the responses from the users. The transcript has to comprise of the original words of the user along with the expressions.
  • Study the results. Include the entire steps suggested by the users, even if you are of the view that they are unessential or unimportant to your site. Give special focus to when and where they get the tasks done. Pay special focus to the things that disappoint them or consumes too much of time. Observe the words used by them to describe the tasks. Don’t permit your own views or knowledge of the business objective play havoc with your studies.
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