Making use of user research

Designing or redesigning a product often feels like a risky proposition, especially in today’s business climate. Those responsible for defining the product offering and marketing want reliable, measurable data to define success both incrementally and overall.

Hard data helps us make choices about where to spend resources, but placing a product under the microscope every step of the way can also introduce as many opportunities for error as it avoids. By focusing on how a product performs in the lab without broader knowledge of the user’s environment and goals, measurement alone may be misleading. To get the most value and meaning out of user feedback it is important to choose the appropriate method for conducting and analyzing user research.

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Always have a backup plan

I’ve been thinking about how things can go wrong lately.

At Cooper, we have a design principle that suggests that designers should "hide the ejector seat levers," meaning: make sure users can’t inadvertently cause their software to fail. By the same token, we also encourage designers to "make errors impossible" by designing software that anticipates the actions of its users.

Nevertheless, things will go wrong. By anticipating failures, and designing backup plans like those described below, you can minimize the impact of unexpected problems on the user.

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