User Research

Don't miss out on the benefits of getting to know your users through observations.

Profile photo of Emma Campbell

Emma Maguire (née Campbell)

July 9, 2022

A farmer sitting in their UTV, using an agritech mobile app while on the farm.

The importance of getting to know your users is not to be underestimated. It can provide a wealth of information that you can utilise to help differentiate and tailor your product to their needs.

A product with impressive features and a beautifully designed interface could all be in vain if the product's functionality doesn't deliver on expectations and leaves users with a negative experience. 

Getting to know how your users interact with your product or a new feature (through the simple method of observation) is an impactful solution for you to understand what is or isn't working. 

Many agritech applications are used on-site with various external factors to consider, such as internet connectivity, weather conditions, and the speed at which the tasks are to be completed. For example, if your users are in the milking shed, they are challenged to move fast to perform both milking duties and utilise your technology. Compare this to a home or office environment with different sets of distractions and unpredictability.

In this article, we delve further into how integrating user observation into your product development process can benefit your users and how you can quickly implement these methods into your organisation. 

Be your users' shadow.

Understanding your users doesn't need to be an arduous exercise, nor does it need to be hugely demanding on time and resources. The simplest form of user research is observing your users, also known as shadowing.

Don't be fooled by the simplistic nature of observing.

The benefits gained can be impactful and hugely valuable despite the low effort and resources required. Making user research observations part of your development process should not be missed!  

Benefits from user observations.

The opportunity to observe your users in their natural environment makes this type of user research so invaluable. These kinds of observations can provide several benefits, such as:

Product design validation. 

  • Find out if your design meets your user's needs and expectations.
  • Find out if your users engage with your product as intended.

Spot opportunities for improvement.

  • Learn if there are signs of frustration or confusion when using your product.
  • Learn if the task on hand is taking longer than anticipated.

Reconnecting with your users. 

  • Opportunity to develop trust and product loyalty.

Get a genuine understanding of your users - their habits, needs and struggles.

  • Sometimes users feel they need to provide an expected answer, which is not always the truth.
  • Observations offer the opportunity to pick up on often overlooked details.

The process of observing your users. 

How do we go about performing this type of observational user research? With a few considerations in mind, ultimately, it involves being observant and unobtrusive. You are the fly on the wall, so to speak. 

Let your users go about their activity naturally without prompt or guidance. This way, you get an accurate insight into how they truly interact with your product, allowing them to showcase product strengths as well as usability issues that impede performance and user experience. 

Helpful tips for user observations:

  1. Have some idea of what you want to learn from these observations, such as what activities or processes you wish to observe. Figuring this out prior will help you select the correct users to observe and ensure that you visit them on a day they would usually carry out that activity. 
  2. Ensure the user feels comfortable with your presence to ensure they behave naturally.
  3. Write observations down in a notebook, or if you have permission from the user, videoing their actions can be a powerful way to present issues back to your team.
  4. Have a goal in mind to help you be selective of the insights you record and avoid wasting resources when evaluating data.
  5. Record observations as soon as they are made so nothing is missed.
  6. Share your observations with your team, so everyone benefits from the new insights. An effective way to do this is to run a short 15-minute presentation highlighting the key insights learnt from the experience.
  7. Make it a monthly event where someone different in the team goes out to do a user observation. This is especially important for people directly involved in product design and development. A regular process opens opportunities for continuous product improvements and keeps it relevant in the market.

Make a plan. 

To make user observations a success for your team, it's important to put processes in place. Processes prevent observations from becoming a cumbersome task each time someone new carries them out and ensure your team looks forward to their turn observing users.

Need support to get you started? Bo Studio can create a tailored user observation research plan that your team can follow every time they're out in the field, making this activity effortless and consistent. The plan can include guidance on what to send to potential participants, presentation templates to report back to your company, and feedback forms with valuable prompts.

With user research comes greater understanding and, ultimately, a greater user experience. It's a partnership worth investing in for business success. 

Are you looking for the right experience design company?

At Bo Studio, we're your agritech experience design specialists. If you're ready to work with an experience design studio, or you're already in the midst of a project and want a fresh perspective, don't be shy to get in touch with us for an initial consultation.

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