UX Best Practices: Beware of UX Assumptions You Haven’t Validated

Beware of UX assumptions you haven't validated

As people who create digital products, we make an awful lot of assumptions about what our users want and why they do—or don’t do—certain things. Sometimes an assumption is right. But in too many cases, those assumptions lead us to build or make changes to products that result in features people don’t want or can’t use. That means your team wastes resources designing and maintaining something that will never demonstrate a return on investment.

Do you find yourself or your teammates saying the following?:

  • Our users don’t do X because of Y.

  • Users are dropping off at X point because of Y.

  • We need a mobile app.

  • Our site’s navigation is confusing to users.

  • Our competitor just released a new feature. Our users would benefit from this feature, too.

Those are likely hypotheses you first need to validate through user experience research—observing and speaking to the people who use the product. Only then will you know what to measure that will make a difference to your product.

For example, let’s say you’re building an internal product in this case that tracks compliance. To reduce administrative costs, as well as keep a better record for audits, you need to encourage employees to use a certain product feature. The problem is, no one seems to be using it. Your goal is to increase use of a specific feature but why aren’t users using the feature now? Some of your teammates hypothesize that it’s difficult to use and others say people simply forget to use it. It could be that one, both or neither of these assumptions are true. User experience research allows your team to get to the root of the issue(s) so you can make informed decisions that you can then measure.

But don’t stop there. User experience design is an iterative process. As you learn more about your users, you’ll need to make iterative changes to your products. That’s a natural part of the cycle. Just don’t start making changes to a product with assumptions that have no base in user experience research. When we fail to do user research, we end up wasting a lot of the limited resources that we have. Instead, do user research up front to ensure your team is in the process of continually learning, as opposed to reaching a user experience dead end.

Wondering how to validate your UX assumptions? Our UX Goals and Metrics workshop helps your team get the UX insights they need to measure what really matters to improve your digital products.