Consumers and the question "Why"? Oh my....

In the past 7 years I, like most people over 14 (or younger depending on the country), have become completely dependent on my smartphone. Of course I use it for fun or time wasting activities mostly related to random searches on something ridiculous: “is Kate Middleton pregnant again?”, “who wore what at the Golden Globes”, “What my sleeping style says about me”. You know, typical “down the rabbit hole” scenarios.

But generally, I use it for practical times saving activities linked with travel and organizing for meetings, presentations, tickets, etc. My apps of preference? SBB, British Airways, Skyscanner and Kayak. Why? Because they are really convenient and the have taken into account consumer behavior and designed accordingly. An app that I use only under duress? Swiss. I dislike this app. I have been a member of Swiss for years and years. Can it ever remember my information? No. Is the user interface poor? Yes. Do they update regularly? Yes. Does it make the app any better? No, it just forgets my previous information.

No, this isn’t just a Swiss rant. But it speaks to the importance of consumer understanding in User Interface and Design and the necessary consumer acceptance testing that needs to happen as part of an app or technology development. I feel that so many startups forget to have actual people try them out and see how people navigate rather than launching something and just measuring the interaction and updating accordingly without knowing why. Seriously folks, the WHY seems to be missing nowadays due to the fact we have so much data from behavioral transactions. Unfortunately, this data tells you what is happening, when and how it’s happening but it doesn’t explain why it is happening.

People in the field of data analytics with advanced degrees in mathematics to develop complex predictive models, correlations, and algorithms are incredibly gifted with the science of the data but they often lack the behavioral science understanding and can’t explain why something is happening. In many startups there is a strong focus on getting the product up and out and tweaking and of course being agile and lean as they go. This is great and of course should continue, but I believe the whole process also benefits from speaking with consumers and watching how they engage with your technology and understand where the pain points and barriers might be.

Yes, it may add a step but it will save you from bigger problems in the long run. With a behavioral understanding, you can start with some theories based on the consumer interaction. From there you can begin the A/B testing which will help in confirming optimization theories. I have seen many optimization and development strategies that have started with the A/B test when in fact they should ended with it. Again, adding some structure and research to your testing strategy will pay off down the line.

This is important in both B2C as well as B2B. In B2B, you may still have a user or many users engaging with your technology. It is incredibly important to develop a seamless experience for them to engage and want to return to your interface or software be it B2B or B2C. This is really important to your startup and what you are developing. Don’t make assumptions that are informed by your technology and features but by how someone engages. Watch, listen and learn from consumers.

I think I should tell this to Swiss.