Finding Opportunity in the App Market: Identifying User Pain Points
Companies are beginning to treat mobile apps as a crucial aspect of their overall branding strategy. Why? Because mobile has the power to optimize the user experience (UX), providing many benefits such as strengthening the overall brand, improving user satisfaction, and increasing sales and conversion rates.
With the number of mobile users rising each day, mobile UX has become an essential part of today’s product development practices. One major weakness that companies currently have is their inability to identify and solve their users’ pain points. This article will specifically outline how to identify users’ pain points during product discovery so you can build a product that will resonate with your users.
Who is Your Target Audience?
Every decision made during product development should revolve around your users’ needs and motivations. Once you have identified the audience segment (who you want to target) you need to identify their pain points. It’s important to remember when developing a product or service to tailor it to meet the needs of a particular set of users, rather than a generic group.
Once you’ve chosen your audience segment, you need to examine your users in greater detail. Do you understand why your customers will buy your product or service? Users are often searching for a solution that will solve a pain they’re experiencing in their life, whether that’s a flawed mobile checkout or an inconvenient personal banking experience. Pain points motivate users to find a solution that will solve this pain. Identifying your customers’ pain points is the most important step during Product Discovery, otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money building a product that no one wants or needs.
Establishing a seamless UX begins with a solid foundation of research and strategy. First, source information that will help you better understand your users’ needs and their overall goals for using your product before asking them directly. In many cases, users’ can’t articulate their needs or may be unaware of them altogether. Research will help identify pain points and frustrations the user is currently experiencing or will experience in the future.
The following techniques provide many added benefits that will establish user-centric product development.
1. Ask the Experts
It’s important to begin your research by asking business experts and analysts for their insight. Learning what has been done and what hasn’t worked in the past will help you understand users’ needs.
2. Examine Products That Already Exist
Many products, if not all, have areas for improvement. Look up reviews, feedback, forums and any information that can help address key issues for your set of users. Analyze where your competition is going with their products and find solutions that they don’t offer. For example, as mobile devices get larger in size, the user-centered mobile design must adjust to be physio-friendly. Look at other products for fundamental issues like lack of customer service options, navigation or quality issues.
3. Go Directly to the Source
Some common research methods include surveys, interviews, and focus groups. In a report by Google, 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company. Conduct research on your users’ attitudes prior to development to ensure that you build a product that is different from what your competition offers, addressing real pain points that exist in the market.
Defining Your User
Revealing user behaviors and attitudes will prove to be of great benefit because you’ll be able to understand where they are bouncing off during the customer journey. Here are a few techniques we use to get into the minds of our users:
1. User Personas
Creating user personas will help reveal truths and validate assumptions to identify underlying pain points. Personas are user profiles that outline the demographic, user behaviors, as well as user needs, and goals.
A good starting point when creating your user persona is by asking a series of key questions:
- What does a day in the life of your user look like?
- What core problem does your product or service address?
- What motivates your users to use your product or service?
- What does your user need, expect, and desire?
- Where are the user’s pain points during the user experience?
2. Customer Journey Mapping
Many companies don’t adequately track the customer journey which is essential in order to adapt to changing customer behaviors. To ensure that your customer experience is as smooth as possible, it’s important to implement a user-centric strategy that will turn customers into loyal brand followers.
A customer journey map helps illustrate the customer experience through the user’s perspective, helping you to understand exactly how customers are interacting with your brand and highlight areas for improvement. Despite the type of experience you want to map, every association throughout a customer’s journey contributes to how they perceive the brand, which ultimately drives customer loyalty. Focus on what angers users or turns them away from the brand. These are the areas of the customer journey map that need to be improved.
Both user personas and customer journey maps are good techniques to use in order to understand who you are building your product for, from understanding their demographic to desires, pain points, expectations, and much more.
It’s now time to validate all assumptions you’ve made by researching how your target audience behaves when using your product. No one can accurately determine users’ pain points besides the user themselves. After you have successfully created a user persona and mapped out the customer journey, you need to validate these assumptions. User expectations and demands are constantly shifting, which is why a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a good strategy to iteratively improve your product.
User Acceptance Tests
Most validation tests involve an imitation product of either an MVP, prototype, or mockup by putting it through an alpha or beta user test. The user will then provide feedback during this iterative process in which problems or kinks can be ironed out early on during the development phase. This will give you a good understanding of user pain points directly from the source itself.
Google is known for masterfully identifying their users’ pain points and solving core issues that their users are experiencing. Google’s new iOS keyboard, the Gboard, is providing an alternative, by integrating Google’s search services right into every app’s text entry fields. Google has identified that their users constantly were pained by having to switch apps to find information and pasting it in. Now, Google keyboard acts as a multi-tasking command center. Google has recognized that its users expect to multitask, a behavior that didn’t exist years ago. Google has successfully identified, understood, and addressed pain points, retaining users worldwide.
After identifying and understanding your users’ pain points, can you establish a solution for your users? If not, your users will find a product or service that will.
Since every target audience has distinct needs, companies must consider key product factors such as usefulness, usability, desirability, and credibility to suit that particular set of users. What is useful to one group of users, may not be to another. These factors will be different for each set of users. Whether your users can articulate their pain points or not, they need be solved if the product is going to hold a spot in the market.
It’s All About the User Experience
According to Econsultancy’s User Experience Report, 73% of companies currently not conducting UX testing will be doing so in the next 12 months. Consumers today not only expect UX design, but need it in order to be satisfied. Consumers don’t want to jump from product to product, but instead find a brand that is designed to please them, which is why brands with exceptional UX win repeat visits, and eventually, new customers. This has allowed Amazon, Google, and Apple to grow into the tech giants that they are today. Because of this, companies are recognizing the need to keep up with changing user expectations in order to solve necessary UX issues. Otherwise, they won’t survive in this new environment where experiences are more optimal and personal than ever before.