Whether you’re adding new analytics capabilities to your product or another feature entirely, you need to consider many of the same steps and roadblocks. How do you know that there’s demand for your dashboard? Should you be adding a new analytics feature entirely? It boils down to knowing your users and understanding what they are trying to accomplish.
We talked to John Cutler, Product Evangelist at Amplitude, about how to use data as an accelerator to navigate changing user requirements and give customers the analytics they need to do their jobs.
What are some best practices for holding user interviews and/or gathering user requirements?
John Cutler: People converge too quickly in their mind on a solution and it guides their question asking. Allow your teams to be a lot more divergent in the beginning. Some people say, “Okay, we’re going to go out and interview five users. And then, we’re going to know what’s going on.” But by the third interview, because of the pet solution they had in their mind, all their questions are biased to that solution. Create a learning backlog and be pretty rigorous about not pulling everything in progress at once. Start with very specific questions.
How do you know what capabilities your users need versus what they just want?
The customer is always right and they’re always wrong. Especially in B2B, people know and understand the job they need to do, deeply. A lot of times, their vision of their job might be constrained by how that job has been done for the last 20 years or so. Customers are not skilled UX researchers or business analysts. It’s not to discount the customer, but you go in and really respect their knowledge of their job. With this perspective, it becomes much more empowering.
How can product teams validate their users’ requirements throughout the development phase?
The word “requirements” is very loaded. Who is requiring what? We want a Boeing airplane to stay in the air. So, there’s requirements when it comes to building a guidance system for Boeing. But with a lot of B2B things, what is a requirement? What it boils down to is prioritizing areas of risk. And that risk might be technical. We don’t know if this thing will stand up and if we’ve picked the right tools.
How does a product team know it’s time to add new dashboards, reports, or data visualizations to their product roadmap?
You need dashboards as early as humanly possible. You need a way to communicate, and it’s often through means related to data. Any time you need to make sense of a problem, or understand an opportunity, you will need a lot of qualitative and quantitative data. The earlier you can introduce that to build a shared language about work and share an understanding, the better.
How can product teams establish that there’s a demand for their dashboard? Should they be adding a new analytics feature entirely?
Often times, if you have a fancy dashboard and a user catches a hint of it, they’ll think it’s amazing or great. The eye candy is powerful. But when it comes to the UX side and the product side of things, you really need to think about the job that your customer is trying to do and think about presenting data to them as just an accelerator to get that job done.
In a B2B context, especially, you need to service the jobs your end users need to do. You can be a lot more efficient about introducing features. Instead of needing to present generalized analytics about everything and being everything to all your customers, you can be much more iterative. That’s where the value of your product comes in, because you shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel to get a lot of this stuff embedded in your products. Once you know what job needs to be done, this gives you a way to push it out there a lot faster.
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