Understand Your Users: Data Based Decision Making Teams are being asked to follow the data during software development resulting in more data based decision making. Here’s how to adjust and strategies to know. Emily Genco MentorMate Alumni Just as Dorthy followed a certain yellow brick road in the epic tale of her journey through Oz, in today’s software development climate designers, developers and project leads are being asked to follow the data resulting in more and more data based decision making. While designers and developers shouldn’t spend more time crunching numbers than sketching and building, they should look to the data to learn about the solutions they are creating as they are tested by actual users. Why? A number of development strategies including growth driven design prove turning a keen eye to the data during the build and iteration process results in a higher value product overall. Consumers facilitate data based decision making More and more businesses are looking to data to understand user behaviors and drive increased user acquisition and retention. A certain subset of consumers sees the value in data too. Dubbed context comfortables, or high comfort consumers, by brand identity leader Dave Norton, this group doesn’t just allow data sharing. They encourage it. They understand any data they provide will lead to more meaningful experiences in healthcare, retail or otherwise. Context comfortables understand any data they provide will lead to more meaningful experiences in healthcare, retail or otherwise. According to research shared at MobCon, 39% of consumers today are comfortable and welcome the widespread sharing of data to enhance their experiences. While a significant portion of consumers encourages data sharing to further more meaningful brand or user experiences, 58.89% of MobCon attendees were highly concerned about information and privacy in this new hyper-connected age. Using data to drive development Now that we understand the proportion of consumers interested in sharing data and some of the concerns they share around privacy, we can explore the impact of data in current development and design processes. A key theme discussed at this year’s MobCon was the need to learn from the software solution, app, website or campaign and let results (the data) direct future action. The only place today for intuition in business is at the office party poker table. Expect to see less “big splash” product launches. Target has admittedly almost done away with them all together. When the retailer launched its Cartwheel app, they executed alpha and beta releases and swapped it with continued iteration. This meant development releases every two weeks, according to Sarah Peterson-Post, one of the app’s core inventors. Why? Brands want to test the success of a product first and iterate as they learn. Launch websites quickly and make improvements. What’s wrong with this scenario: A group of stakeholders predicts insights about the business’ target audience and works on a website for one and a half to two years in order to perfectly execute on every assumption. The answer? Everything. In today’s competitive consumer climate, user actions and the corresponding functionality on a brand’s website, platform or app must be informed by key learnings as development progresses. User behavior dictates the action. The concept of growth-driven design is built on the Agile process and treats each project like a living breathing thing — quickly created then shaped by insights fed as user behavior is collected, distilled and applied. The key to successfully applying a strategy like growth driven design is proactively making improvements month-over-month resulting in a more valuable product matching the true (not assumed) needs of the target audience. Investing in visitor tracking tools like heatmapping will let your digital strategists see how users are interacting with your site (for example). Then, adjustments to drive the intended actions can be made. The result? Smarter, data-guided decisions produce higher performing websites. And that’s a fact. Pairing data based decision making in design with lean UX The old, bloated way of designing where notes and revisions from every group review are captured in wireframes and site mocks has been replaced with a newer, slimmer model. Enter Lean UX. Much like growth driven design, the Lean UX model is predicated on speed. Use these strategies to slim down your design process and achieve a greater net value, along with saving time and money. Work with existing design patterns. Android and Apple users expect to find certain functionality native to their respective platforms. Use this as a starting point and iterate to improve the experience, not replace it with a wholly different and unfamiliar model. Limit the scope of design work needed with an MVP. An MVP is the minimum viable product needed to accomplish core functionality. Don’t design and build out every feature before launch. Instead, identify the most important features, and spend the design time there. Create a backlog to save additional features for a second or third release. Want more detail on creating an MVP? Read this blog. To define your MVP, determine the purpose of the solution, feature requirements and timetable. Then, prioritize your features based on their ability to achieve the purpose and address existing pain points. Launch. Then learn fast. Sprint towards your MVP. But don’t stop there. Continuously improve and use data to understand how users are interacting with the solution and what behavior may be a result of functionality that doesn’t yet exist. Launch additional design and development in subsequent releases. Photo courtesy of Sergey Nivens. Tags Data & AnalyticsPredictive AnalyticsData Design & ArchitectureBusiness Intelligence & Analysis Share Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Share Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Sign up for our monthly newsletter. Sign up for our monthly newsletter.