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ARTICLE

Continuous User Involvement

How we are constantly looking for fresh perspectives.

May 9, 2022
-
Joy Jansen

Talking with and observing the people that use the digital products created by our teams; it has always made me tick! All the numbers or data in the world can’t adequately describe the thoughts that people have on their minds while using a website or an app. Nothing beats the process of listening to users while they explain what they’re doing, what they are thinking and what they expect while observing them using the service.

Continuous User Involvement

The involvement of users throughout various phases of a project to gain insights on their needs and to validate a concept or prototype. That’s what we call Continuous User Involvement. Our goal is to gain a better understanding of the users’ context, in order to be able to craft a fitting solution or service. It’s an essential part of our Meaningful Data proposition, in which we help you to collect, model and analyse qualitative and quantitative data: making it insightful.

Over the past few years, we have noticed that more and more organisations are practising user involvement. However, implementing user participation at an appropriate scale and frequency often remains a challenge. Two recognizable situations on this topic that we see in organisations are:

  • Experiencing the blank page syndrome
    “Where do we even start?”. The lack of specific goals makes it difficult to set a framework for user involvement, as organisations are often overwhelmed by all the possibilities.
  • Practising user involvement as a formality
    A checkbox that must be ticked. “We’ve conducted a usability test. Isn’t that enough?”. This often results in involving participants in a project without having predefined goals or a clear plan; causing the value to remain limited.

Both of them sound recognizable, but are in our opinion very unfortunate. When we reflect on successful projects, we notice the importance of involving users in the continuous process of service development. These insights empower you to gain a better understanding and to create the right solution in the right manner. And, of course, being able to talk to the actual user is a great source of inspiration.

Remote validation is a valuable method to validate your concept.

How do we approach this at fresk.digital?

Continuous User Involvement is intertwined in our way of working. To be able to apply this successfully and to avoid encountering the mentioned pitfalls, we plan and hypothesise early on in the discovery phase of a project so we can answer the right questions consistently and purposefully.

By keeping in mind what we want to learn and explore, we can choose the appropriate size and the required mix of successive user involvement methods that reinforce each other.

Of course, with the knowledge and our flexibility that findings may require additional research. In this way, we build in enough space to enable user involvement throughout the entire project.

Is this time consuming?

Nope. We believe in effective processes that aim to continuously learn, validate and iterate in order to design the right solutions. We validate our hypotheses; which brings us more focus and which saves us time. By learning step by step, our process is evolving into a set of standards that could lead into a framework. When we anticipate on what such framework might look like for fresk.digital, we foresee that, among others, the following principles will be applicable, based on our previous experiences and expertise:

  1. We aim to continuously gain insights and to conduct research iteratively. We believe this is valuable, as it allows us to test hypotheses through different types of research methods, thus helping us to confirm or refute the results. We recently experienced this in a project, where we used the results of a quantitative study to gain further in-depth insights during a qualitative study. This type of continuous results helps us in making and justifying design decisions.
  2. Since we conduct multiple studies by using various methods, we use techniques that help us strive for consistency within these sessions (e.g. NPS score or KANO-model).
  3. A key element is to ensure that tests are adequately sized, matching the method and/or hypothesis. We make conscious choices for the number and type of participants and ensure coordination that brings the most value. Think of the rule of thumb for usability testing: where a maximum of 5 participants is recommended (https://www.nngroup.com/articles/5-test-users-qual-quant/). In this case it brings more value performing small consecutive tests than to test with a larger group.
  4. Last but not least, we recognize that right now is the time to set new standards for our working method; for example by creating templates or by optimising the way of reporting. No more large format PDFs that take too long to read (TLDR ;-)), but action-oriented backlog items that answer the proposed hypotheses. Ready to be prioritised and scheduled so that we can continue working on the service in a targeted manner. We prefer to choose a setup with project tools that customers already use, such as Jira or, a tool that we find very pleasant to work with, ClickUp.

Of course, our experience plays an important part in this as well: over the past few years we’ve worked on several projects where user involvement played a big role. We will take this experience into account as we develop and execute our plans. In doing so, it’s necessary to share that Continuous User Involvement is not the only method we use to gain more insights. We enrich our insights by means of desk- and UX-research, expert reviews and other principles from our Meaningful Data proposition.

Curious about how we successively apply Continuous User Involvement within our projects? You will read that in the next article :-). In the meantime, would you like to learn more about continuous user involvement? Or would you like to discuss how this principle could help improve your services?
Then give us a call; we are happy to help you!

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