“Your first assumption is going to be wrong.”
That was advice from a former leader of mine as we started the move to data driven, lean UX methodologies. That statement has resonated with me through my career. And while your first assumption may not ALWAYS be wrong, it will always be expanded upon through the use of data.
For example, say I’m building an ecommerce website and I’m focused on the shopping cart. Perhaps I have an opinion on how the user will interact with certain features on the page, like the ability to add more items, or view certain options within the cart related to the product. That’s my assumption. It’s not backed up by anything but my own experience – sample size of one.
What data, and the customer feedback loop will show me is that maybe I’m wrong. Maybe not everyone shops like me (how dare they – I’m the perfect customer). Through prototyping and usability, I will be able to see “real life” scenarios in action. Perhaps the data (observations, surveys, etc.) shows me that the options I wanted the user to input in the shopping cart were better served on the product detail page? Or that some other piece of functionality that I was passionate about is over looked or not even used.
I know this isn’t the great revelation of the century to most of you – but… ata takes the emotion out of things.
Like I said previously, I was a sample size of one and is typically not the best representation of how your product may be used at scale. In essence, the “customer” in customer experience may just be you… and that’s really sad.
If getting out of the building (lovingly referred to as GOOBing in the Agile/Lean world) is not possible, there are so many great tools and services out there that allow you to see your prototype or live product in action like usertesting.com where you can select your target audience and have them test your prototype or product and get the results in real time for analysis. GOOBing, if you can do it, is much better because you can actually grab random people (only if they are willing!) and watch them interact with your product in real life. So much data can be derived from either online or IRL testing – and quite possibly disprove (or prove) your original hypothesis. What to do with those results are completely up to you. Pivot or persevere.
Whatever you do, listen to your users…