UX Research & User Testing

Segmenting Audience & Gathering Data

Paul Boag

Paul Boag

UX Research & User Testing

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The "Segmenting Audience & Gathering Data" Lesson is part of the full, UX Research & User Testing course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Paul discusses the importance of segmenting your audience in UX design and how to do it effectively. He explains that traditional ways of segmenting audiences, such as demographics, may not work well in UX. Instead, he suggests segmenting based on questions, tasks, and needs. He also provides examples and tips on understanding user needs and gathering relevant information through existing research, customer support staff, site analytics, social media, and more.


Transcript from the "Segmenting Audience & Gathering Data" Lesson

>> So let's move on to how to set or why to segment your audience and kind of how to do that. So, this idea of segmenting your audience is a marketing thing basically, he says pulling a face. But it is very important cuz different audiences have very different needs, but the traditional ways of segmenting your audience don't really work very well with UX, right?

They work well with marketing, segmenting people by their social economic group for example, right? Makes sense when you're doing marketing but from a UX point of view and the kind of work we do, not so much, right? What we care about is things like what questions people have, right?

Audiences that have different questions from one another should be segmented differently. So going back to that University of Florida example, the questions that I have as an existing employee compared to a potential employee, compared to a HR manager. We have very different questions, so it made sense to split people in that way, right?

Based around their different question needs, tasks is another one. So again using that example, well splitting them along those lines because the tasks that somebody who had just joined the institution is very different. From the tasks that somebody who had been there for 20 years need to do with their health care.

So splitting them around those made sense again because you use questions in the tasks, and third one are needs, right? Some users have specific needs that you need to comprehend whether that be around language or cognitive requirements, etc. So you can see how the way that I'm splitting it here isn't demographics, right?

It is about their interactions, their requirements, etc. So whenever you get an audience and you're defining your audiences, is always try and split them around those three things, questions, tasks, and needs will make your life a lot easier. So just to kind of give you an example of that, when we were segmenting around based on needs with the University of Florida.

We have prospective employees that wanted an overview of their healthcare options and what they might get as an employee. Then you had your new employees that needed to know how to pick and enroll on a specific health plan. So again, different tasks, different needs there, existing employees that wanted to switch between health plans, maybe they just had a kid or got married or whatever else.

So they had their own set of needs and then managers that had to approve a health plan or support staff in their choices. So how do you go about kind of understanding the user's needs and what drives them? So once you've kind of defined your different audiences, well, let's look at what's useful to know, right?

They're not all crucial, you don't need to know all of these but I'm just giving you a list of things that I tend to keep an eye out for and I kinda wanna know when I'm understanding an audience. I've already said what questions they have, right, what are they seeking answers to?

Lot of the stuff especially with websites obviously more so than apps, but with websites most of the time you're trying to get an answer to a question. What objections is a common one? So if you're Upselling something or you've got a service that your website is offering, why are users not acting, why are they abandoning the experience?

We're stopping them, what are their objections? I wanna know what their goals are, what they try to ultimately achieve, and then I wanna know what the tasks are that they have to do to achieve that goal, right? But then there are other things that are of interest as well, so there's things I like to know about people's state of mind, how they're feeling during the experience.

Which may sound like tree huggy territory, but it's actually very useful to know with certain things. So for example, planning a holiday or a vacation, sorry, we're in America, planning a vacation. So when you're planning a vacation, how you feel changes quite dramatically over that planning process to begin with.

You're very excited, the possibilities as you narrow things down, you get more excited as it gets more focused. Then it comes to the moment of paying, and suddenly you're a bit nervous and actually booking it is a bit scary, then it gets exciting again before you go away.

But as you come up to the moment of going away, they're all concerns and worries about have you got the right visas and all that kind of stuff. Then there's the holiday, the vacation and the excitement and enjoying that but there probably are difficulties to overcome as well, do you see how it's a real roller coaster emotionally?

So there are certain situations where state of mind is really important, I've worked with a mental health charity that had a suicide hotline. State of mind is pretty important on that one, so it does vary, influences, what's influencing the experience the user is having? That may be people, it may be publications, it may be social media influences, a lots of things will affect how people respond in a situation.

Then there are things like challenges, what pain points are users experiencing during their interaction? And then the final one is touch points, what different ways is a user interacting with the experience? I'll come back to touch points in a minute, you got your primary things, which are the main things you wanna know, and then your secondary things which are nice to have.

So touchpoints might be are they going into a store like you were talking about earlier, or are they receiving emails or is it via a web app or is it a native app, is it web based app, etc. So these are the kinds of things I know as I've already said I start by consolidating what is already in an organization.

But to get really specific about what I'm looking for I tend to look see if there's any existing user research. Don't really care if it's years old as long as I'm aware it's years old, it's still nice to see anything that already exists, any existing testing that's been done in the past, right?

Still interesting to see, I often have a chat with customer facing staff always find out. In fact, that's my number one go to first thing I always do anybody who talks to the customer, I love to have a quick chat with them. Customer support staff are particularly good the reason being is they keep lists of common questions.

Which are wonderful to have, cuz that's all of their problems and pain points, so that's great. Often dive into site analytics just to kinda see where people are dropping out is the main thing where are people leaving the site. Often talk to the social media team if there is one cuz that's really good for kind of things people are saying about the brand online.

Sometimes I get into CRM data and kind of have a nose around there but not so much that's not such a big one. I sometimes look at what search terms are used around the application or site so I can kind of see if there's any reoccurring themes there.

And then finally obviously I'll look at any existing personas, now I know that looks like a lot and I'm not suggesting you do all of them, right? Again ,do what you can maybe you can't get any of that stuff and that's fine, then fair enough you can. If it turns out to be there was some user research that was done five years ago but nobody really knows where it is, don't waste your time hunting around for ages.

But if you can lay your hands on it quickly great, give it a skim, right? So don't be intimidated by any of these things that I'm saying, cuz you can just do what you can really, something is better than nothing, back to that mantra. So once I've kind of had a little look over whatever there is, sometimes I'll spend a day doing that, sometimes I'll spend an hour doing that, right?

Sometimes occasionally I'll spend several days diving into analytics, so I'm not an analytics person. So once I've kind of done all that, then basically there are gaps, right? There are things that I wanna know that aren't there, and they kinda come in three forms. There's missing information, there's particular things that I wanna know that just aren't there.

Then there's out date information in other words, there's stuff that is there but I can't really get at it, or yeah, this is what so long ago that I don't think it's relevant. And then there's stuff that sometimes people write down and you go yeah, that's someone made up, I don't believe that

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