Product at Workstreams.ai
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
Last year, we published the four key design pillars that we ask ourselves to contemplate while we prototype, create and test features for our application — also known as the USER approach.
A year later, our product is still benefiting from the scenarios and solutions that USER has prompted us to consider, but we also saw a need to expand on it. While we did successfully create a concise (and somewhat cheeky) means of accounting for and anticipating user needs and desires, a piece was still missing.
We have a way of focusing on what users cared about and reflecting it in our designs. We still needed, however, a clear way of recognizing what users saw as valuable when they actually use our product.
It was from this, that USED was born: Utility, Specificity, Engagement, Delight.
First, users need to know what makes our solutions useful. When we think about utility, we focus on what key objectives our product and its features are currently meant to solve, as well as how that is conveyed in our interface and in our content. Demonstrating real utility (instead of mere hype) starts in our choices about marketing, onboarding, and support content, which many people interact with before ever even deciding to use Workstreams.ai. For this reason, we make sure at all times to identify and explain how our product works, as well as how our product brings unique value to specific use cases. By the time someone actually starts using our product, they should already have some ideas brewing about how our tools can uniquely benefit their organization.
The most useful tool in the world can be useless when applied to the wrong job. People in their places of work look at task management software the same way they look at a prospective employee — You’re only brought into the company if you can solve a problem that hasn’t yet been solved. This is why when we conduct user testing and research, we make sure to ask questions that address the current way in which people frame their own objectives. How does someone’s workflow impact other goals in their organization? All tasks are not created equal, and understanding one task’s impact on another informs us on how tasks can best be presented, sorted, and made more transparent for collaborative purposes. To that end, we push for our solutions to have the function, form, and placement that our user is looking for right as they are in the mindset of completing a task. We have to ask ourselves (and them) what they are looking for in order to guide them in the most suitable and specific direction
To guide people in the right direction, it is essential to both identify and encourage the right kind of user engagement. Sometimes things are intuitive and don’t require an explanation. Other things require a great deal of explanation. In more cases than one would guess, however, improving user engagement just requires planting the right hint in the right place at the right time. Even so, discovering how and where to drop those hints is no easy task. Our data shows that providing too much information about a feature can sometimes be worse than showing nothing at all if it leaves the user disoriented or discouraged. There is also little value in engagement for engagement’s sake. One finds a huge difference, for example, between spending a lot of time on a webpage or an app window because its content is helpful and spending time there because the right content is simply hard to find. To improve engagement, users needed to be guided, not shoved, towards the right features for their own workflow.
Delight is a quality in any application that can easily be both overemphasized and underrated. No amount of delight can help an app where the core functionality and usability is not on solid foundations. Leaning on delight to compensate for functional failures simply does not suffice. That being said, assuming an application has a clear utility, it functions in a specific way, and engages users with the right mix of intuitive tools, delight becomes the greatest opportunity to transform a product from something a person simply uses into something they openly celebrate. Delight is the feeling that the user has when they feel they are in good hands. People are not pure information processors, and the feeling of being addressed on an emotional level by an application provides a buffer of patience as an app is explored. It’s also exceptionally difficult to accurately measure and genuinely create. Delight emerges out of a thousand different actions: that extra effort to provide a playful illustration where another app leaves an empty space or the conscious act of bringing a brand voice into instructional content. In our efforts to bring about delight, we look for where our users voice that they are truly enjoying something, and do our best to build off of that initial spark.
USED: Final Thoughts
Keeping USED as a means of evaluating how our product is understood and felt by the people who use it every day has radically improved how our team goes about user research and user testing. It has forever altered the way we ask questions, as well as how we decide what features we want to focus on. It has also prompted us to increasingly test our features earlier, more often, and in more diverse ways.