Forecasting what users will require

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Irrespective of whether you plan to roll out a new site or improvise on an old one, your objective is to forecast what users will require. Two methods of knowing what your users will require:

  • Keep a track on their activities. With the help of your traffic logs, you’ll be able to know the manner in which people use your site. What are the features that are made use of and which ones are not given much importance?
  • Question on what they think. With the help of surveys, focus groups or carrying out interviews of customers, you can question users about their reactions to a new feature or their anticipations in your site.

The most trustworthy option of finding out what your users require is by keeping a track of their conduct on your site at present. What are the features they use? Which products hold their attention? What are the articles they read? What’s their duration of stay in your site? This is the ultimate benefit of websites: You can witness for yourself with great accuracy on how people use your site. With the help of market research tools, such as Media Metrix or Nielsen NetRatings, you can examine traffic patterns for other sites which are alike.

Questioning users about their thought if you are introducing a new site-or including a feature that is not associated to your present site-your traffic logs will not let you know if it’s a superior method. Therefore in these situations you’d like to ask users what they require. With the help of focus groups, carrying out interview among the users, or surveys, you can question users (or individuals who match their description)on their views of your idea that has been brought forward.

Do they require it? Will they make use of it? Now, if you’ve already taken a decision on developing a particular site (for example, a grocery-delivery service) it’s important to gather information from users on what they require from it. However, if you are still in the process of taking a decision, consumers will not turn out to be helpful.

Instruments for learning what users require

  • Study of traffic patterns helps you to recognize the portions of your site that are most popular.
  • Study of the market helps you to know which other sites on the internet are popular.
  • Study of the task aids you to comprehend the way users presently accomplish their specific tasks.
  • Focus groups will let you know the way possible response of customers to a special feature or site.
  • Favorite rating will let you know the way customers prioritize various features on your site.
  • With the help of surveys, you can gather opinions from the users

The response of your user can be predicted with the help of focus groups and surveys. However, keep in mind: The activities of the users are not always based on what they say. They may show fake interests in site which they will never use or show false disinterest in those which they are fond of.

An example from reality: When you question people living in cities on why they love urban life, many of them will remark on cultural outlets, such as opera or ballet. However, let’s be honest. They have never in their life visited an opera house.

The activities of users are not always based on what they declare. They may show a deep inclination in features which they’ll never make use of. The same thing applies for internet users, who may declare a strong inclination in features they’ll never use. They would possibly love to think that they would use it in the future. They perhaps think that it’s a smart concept for others to use. It may also be that they are being polite. Whatever the cause, users are righteously uncertain in forecasting their own conduct.

Information learnt from the ditches-your site is not the hub of user’s universe

"Do not punish people for leading their lives while they're using your site." —Peter Merholz

Your website may mean a lot to you, but it is just a tiny portion in the life of your user. The faster you identify this subduing fact, the more powerful your site will turn out to be. According to online marketing expert, Hunter Madsen, it’s a natural fact to exaggerate the value attached to your product.

However, it’s not helpful, says Madsen and adds that you have to bear in mind that unless your product is a “heart-lung machine”, which they require and for which no substitute is available, your product will not be so valuable to them as it is to you. This will never be the case, adds Madsen.

Madsen says that to build a site effectively and to advertise it, you have to have an idea of your brand’s role in the life of the user. For majority of the sites, it’s a brief appearance. Then, it’ll be of great use if you could have a larger picture. Peter Merholz, a partner with consulting firm Adaptive Path, says that the most crucial thing for a person developing a site is the framework or the circumstance in which the user will use it.

Quite often the larger picture is a modest one. Assuming that your user can comprehend you site or hold your entire attention is wrong. According to Merholz, it’s inconceivable for someone to have a comprehension of your site simply by using your system.

You’ll most possibly need to attune your thinking in case if you are putting in efforts to teach them about your site or stimulating them to “hang out “there. Mike Kuniavsky, author of Observing the User Experience says you need to view the website as a portion of someone’s life.

He adds that you need to look at their other portions to have an understanding of the way they will use this minute portion, which they will use for a substantially short span of time if you are doing an excellent job. This is tough to retain in the mind as it opposes our own experience. We spend such a great deal of time putting in thoughts regarding our own websites that it becomes unimaginable for us to think that users wouldn’t do the same.

However, the will not. If you want to serve them in the best possible manner, you have to take this into consideration. Kuniavsky says that their objective is not to remain glued to your website and adds that their objective is somewhere else. Kuniavsky further says that their objective is to have a couch or purchase insurance or keep themselves updated on what’s going on in Pakistan.

This is why you need to make up for their shortage of time, knowledge and interest when you create your site. Merholz said you need to ensure that their discussions are apparent-that you are not using jargon, that you value the user’s time and that you permit them to carry out activities they require to do in five to ten minutes.

In the same way, you need to keep in mind that people are disturbed while working and it may take time more than the anticipated time to finish tasks.

Merholz said "The number of sites that have session timeouts after 20 minutes—causing all the work that person has done to disappear—that, I've never understood.” Merholz added the person using the site might have walked his dog, faced his baby, answer the phone and much more.

According to Merholz, individuals should not be penalized for leading their lives while they are making use of your site.

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