Choosing a User Research Method — Launch & Growth Phase

Thought Leadership

By Halliq AMA | October 01, 2020

The COVID crisis has thrown digital products into an unexpected starring role. They allow us to keep in touch with friends, collaborate with colleagues, shop, and more — all from the safety of our social bubble.

This comes with a parallel surge to get digital products to market fast, but we are seeing many of these products failing before they start. What is the reason? They are missing out on one essential component — user testing across the entire development lifecycle.

My colleagues have recently shared their thoughts about how to get the most impact with your user testing across the discovery, definition and prototyping, and development and pre-launch stages. But there’s still one important area to cover here — user testing during the Launch and Growth stages.

User research in development & launch and growth phase

Continuing with user testing post-launch and during the growth stage might seem contradictory. After all, you’ve created your product, and now it’s time to let it fly — right? Not exactly.

User research doesn’t end after a product has been launched. In fact, this is the most critical time in a product’s lifecycle — and determines whether it will flourish or flounder in the long run. In order to succeed, we need to recalibrate the focus of this research and the techniques we apply to achieve our goals during this time:

  • Retaining users: It’s not enough to attract new users. Viable business models require that users show up time and time again.

  • Tailoring your user experience: As service providers, we need to be able to predict the future needs of our users and create an experience tailored to these needs- before a competitor does.

  • Identifying the 'big picture' opportunities for the product: Turn data into a tool to identify the most impactful future for your product, and then chart a road map to get there.

From launch to lasting growth

This stage is all about working closely with your Product, Data Analytics, and Customer-Facing teams to track and measure how a product is performing against your success measurement criteria. It’s also important to get feedback from your customers.

The long-term success of your product heavily depends on implementing a research strategy that aligns with your product strategy after launch. Three key research approaches in the Post-Launch & Growth stage are:

  • Product feedback tracking

  • Experimenting for product growth

  • Future roadmapping

#1: Product feedback tracking

When it comes to post-launch product feedback, UX designers and product managers typically rely heavily on quantitative analytics tools to measure the real-world performance of the product against pre-set success metrics. We wait for AppStore reviews. And we get creative in the quest to incentivize customers to fill out surveys. But unfortunately, none of these approaches answers the crucial questions we have — the WHY behind it all.

That’s why we need to use a strategic user research approach to get the maximum output for better product success in the long run.

Behavioral analytics helps you understand why the numbers you get from quantitative analytics are the way they are. These data sets can help you address the user experience of the product by providing you with:

  • User session recordings from live ad-hoc users

  • Offline session recording

  • Heatmaps

Screen Shows UXCam page

Example: Session recording in UXCam captures the session status, movements, taps, and scrolling across a page on the mobile. Source: UXCam

Using user surveys effectively is a fine art. Delivery the survey the right way, and you can get tremendous feedback with data. But approach the user in a way that is off-putting, and you risk undoing all your hard acquisition work. So how do you put together a survey that will be effective and keep your users happy?

Here are a few questions to consider before you design and send out your survey:

  • What are the most important pieces of info you need to learn about your users and their behaviors? This can help you decide whether to launch a targeted, Net Promoter Score survey, polls, or open feedback survey.

  • How can you make the survey process seamless and maximize its effectiveness?

  • Are you asking too much, not enough, or the right amount of info to make this outreach worth it?

Screen Showing Twitter Feedback Survey

Example: Twitter feedback survey on its 10th Anniversary, making users feel like they are part of something special with simple no-nonsense questions. Source: Drift

When tracking survey feedback, keep your focus on:

  • Collecting feedback that is actionable

  • Measuring the conversion funnel

  • Assessing overall and micro aspects of product usability

Looking for some qualitative tools you get started with right away? I recommend UXcam, Hotjar, Sessioncam, and Fullstory, amongst others.

#2: Experimenting for product growth

So now you have your post-launch customer feedback. But how do you translate these newfound insights into actionable steps with measurable goals?

With UX research. Your UX team and thorough user testing is the main ingredient for long term growth. That’s why it’s crucial for your UX team to work in tandem with product managers and strategists to experiment with growth ideas and strategies.

To run successful growth experiments that result in the long term success of a project, we need to:

Define OKRs/experimentation goals: Define your objectives (O) needed to achieve the key results (KR) you want to reach. Objectives are actionable solid ideas. Key results are quantifiable and have a deadline.

Generate a backlog of Ideas: Collaborate with product managers, strategists, and developers to create a list of backlog ideas for experimentation. This backlog is the accumulated brainstorm of ideas garnered from feedback tracking, marketing trends, brainstorming, visionary leaders in your company, and unanswered questions. Then, prioritize these backlog ideas for experimentation based on implementation effort and ROI of ideas.

Create your test document: Create the test documentation for the ideas you are experimenting with for the product growth. Your test document should have:

  • An Objective

  • A Hypothesis

  • Test methods & design

  • Measurable variables

  • Implementation resource/effort

Ideate and implement the designs: A/B testing and Multivariate testing are the most commonly used testing methods for growth experiments.

Design and implement two or more very different design variations against the control, depending on the test method for the experiment. You can run the tests effectively using the A/B testing tools available in the market — or if you want to go old school, use the growth experimentation developers in your team to implement and collect feedback.

Some easy-to-use A/B testing tools include Optimizely, Omniconvert, Crazy Egg, and AB tasty.

PayU Screen

Example: PayU Increased its Conversions by 5.8% Using Data-Driven A/B Testing. Source: VWO

Analyze the test results: Now for the fun part. Look at the results you’ve gained from your experimentation, weighing the measurable variables you defined in the test documentation. Comparing the results for the control and variations is the key to determining whether your hypothesis is true or false. Also using these findings will help you understand the end-users and give ideas for new growth experimentations.

#3: Future roadmapping

Now we have a wealth of quantitative and qualitative feedback collected from our post-launch user testing, and it’s time to come up with a roadmap for a long-term growth strategy for the future.

A UX roadmap is a high-level plan that defines and prioritizes the ideas and problems that the UX team will work on in the future. This living document will be crafted, augmented, and updated throughout the lifecycle of the product. A UX roadmap is different from a backlog list or launch plans. Instead of being more of an execution to-do list, UX roadmaps chart a path to solve problems for users at the strategic level. And, a UX roadmap is your product’s ultimate guide to long-term success.

Customer Roadmap Page

Example: Roadmap for a customer portal showing the themes planned for present and future. Source: NN/g

Things to keep in mind when working on your roadmap are:

  1. It should always be the user’s needs or problems that need to be solved and not product features

  2. It should not just be design needs, It should be effective even on the future research needs as well

  3. Roadmap items should be in sync with the product vision and strategy

Roadmapping tools to check out include Productplan, Trello, Airfocus, and Roadmunk.

Parting thoughts

Product development is an ongoing process involving continuous research, discovery, and the introduction of adaptations and new features. This isn’t just an idea — it’s a necessity in order to solidify a product’s long-term growth and exponential traction with users.

That’s why it’s so critical to include UX research in your product’s post-launch and growth stage. It’s just as important to work with a dedicated team of UX researchers who understand your product, its functions, and its users.

If you would like to know more about Apply’s user research process or want to build your own product reach out to us at hello@applydigital.com.

Co-Written by Liz Goode.