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2020 Changed How We Should Research User Experience: Some Simple Lessons

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If 2020 were a website, whoever built it clearly didn’t do much user experience research. Things broke, nothing felt right, and it was incredibly difficult to get to where you needed to be. I’d rate 2020’s UX score as ‘rubbish’. ‘Unprecedented’, even.

My LinkedIn feed in January has been full of great insights from others who have clearly also taken a lot away from 2020. For me, some of the lessons were personal.

  • The importance of focusing on relationships, not transactions.
  • The value for everyone of doing things for each other without expecting back.
  • Not to make so many assumptions about what’s around the corner.
  • And just being grateful for good health and the people around me.

I also learned some important business lessons about how the people I want to do business with have changed. 2020 left its mark on you, on me, and on most people.

What We Care About Has Changed for Good.

Here, I want to share a few of those lessons about how customer values and behaviour have changed and how, as businesses, the way we perform user experience research needs to change too.

1. We Care More About: Environment

If you follow Brewdog’s content on LinkedIn, you’ll have seen posts like this one.

Source: James Watt BrewDog CEO & Co-Founder

Brewdog are clearly in touch with three things here.

ONE: That we have a responsibility to the environment that we affect as individuals and businesses.

TWO: That when the world suddenly stopped in 2020, people also stopped and realised we weren’t taking that responsibility seriously enough.

THREE: That 2021 and beyond will be about actually doing it. Not just talking about it.

We don’t all have budgets to do what Brewdog are doing.

But there are tons of things you can do to make every one of the 365 days that little bit greener.

Through government subsidy, UK regulator, Ofgem, are even offering small businesses quarterly payments over 20 years based on the amount of heat generated” as part of the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. It’s worth looking into.

2 . We Care More About: Work-Life Balance

Some of you might remember a Dettol ad from 2020 that went viral for all the wrong reasons.

The ad was supposed to be a funny take on going back to the office after lockdown and all the things people might miss. Like hearing an alarm, putting on a tie carrying a handbag, the boss jokes, plastic plants and office gossip.

Source: Twitter

Unfortunately for Dettol, the ad didn’t go down well on social media with many people saying it was out of touch with the reality. And they were right, it was.

Yes, some of us did miss some aspects of office life, but for many it wasn’t necessarily all bad. People found themselves spending more time with the kids, less time on long commutes and even being more productive at home.

What does this mean for your user experience?

It means it’s time to reflect and realise that the future of work really has changed permanently. Your position as a business about the work-from-home debate will affect how your employees, clients and prospects view you.

Finding out how they feel about it through the right user experience research will be important in making sure 2021 brings you closer to your audience, instead of drifting away from them.

Ultimately (for me at least) it’s always been about offering flexible working that respects other priorities people have in their lives.

People value trust and independence and teams will reward you by being invested in their work. IUX design effective UX strategy for clients by combining in-office teamwork, but also individual creativity and that should be done where people do it best.

For us, 2021 will just be more of the same.

3. We Care More About: How We Communicate

Remember back in April?

The feeling of coping with the crisis together as the way we live and work changed in ways none of us ever thought we’d see. What did we do? The whole office and the entire family jumped on Zoom. Even our not-so-techie senior relatives got involved.

Now, in January 2021, we’re all talking about ‘Zoom fatigue’.

Seem familiar?

Because we can’t speak face-to-face, we’re aligning, checking-in, catching up and over-communicating with bosses, colleagues and family all through a screen.

How we communicate with the people we want to do business with is starting to become an actual business problem.

Because 2020 started a debate on when we should have a video call, when we should just have a phone call, when we should email, and when we should leave each other to it.

What does this mean for your user experience research?

It means you need to personalise communication and show that you’re aware of the need to treat people as people, not just as ‘prospects’ or ‘clients’. Before you can do that, you need to discover if and how your audience’s communication preferences have changed by applying the right user experience research.

What Did 2020 Teach Us About How We Should Now Approach User Experience Research?

In 2021 businesses need to re-focus part of their qualitative UX research to find out how their audience now thinks about awareness factors that came out of 2020.

Those that decide to make real changes that show their audience that they’ve learned the lessons and have changed their mindset will be able to talk about these things genuinely as part of their brand story.

The first step is to know how 2020 changed your audience with qualitative user experience research. Gather the right data that delivers the key insights.

How did those you want to do business with change as people?

Do they expect the people they want to do business with to have changed as well?

If you need advice on how to start planning your 2021 UX research to find out how your audience’s attitudes changed in 2020, get my attention here, or on LinkedIn, and we’ll have a friendly chat.

Written by
Lee Hill

Lee Hill

Founder and MD
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