How to overcome user research on a Mendix application

It’s great to build applications in a short time frame as Mendix allow us but how often do you run user research before your project begins. Especially using an agile methodology where everything goes so fast. You got a structured business plan and your head is full of ideas to start your new application. You just did not have the time or budget to know who will be the users of your application and what are they expecting to get from it.

The solution is to run an online survey

During your first week of the project, you are normally required to to fill in your product canvas template and also start writing user stories for your backlog. What if you spend 10 more minutes gathering a couple of questions to post it online, so you can get users feedback while you are on your preparation week. If you are not involving your users, you are not building a user-centred application. The benefits of user research are enormous, you will have more confidence in your design decisions, it will avoid expensive rework and it will give you new insights of your product and bigger space for tacking all experience of the application upfront.

What do you need to know to run a survey

 The benefit of running an online survey is gathering large number of responses very quickly. So, I advise you to define your research goals. Think about what points of your business that are not very clear yet. Is there something online already that you can ask for improvement? If it is your first application, focus on the answers you want to hear. Are you picturing already? Great! What are questions popping up in your head for your consumers? Perhaps, where or when they might use the application? What are the tasks they want to accomplish? Are there any pain points in the current way as they go about these tasks?
The downside of running an online questionnaire is that you learn about the problems but not why they occur and is also hard to get rich responses. If you really want to invest in user research there are other research methods you want to consider but this one is the best approach for the shortest time.

Let’s get started

  1. To run an online survey you can use free tools online, I personally prefer Google forms, I already got a google account and it’s simple and easy to use but you can also try Type Form it’s also free and gives you more fancy interactions and different roots to take your users based on their answers.
  2. Now, that you have your tool of choice, you want to focus on the first questions. Ask open-ended questions. and Avoid leading questions Remember the 5 Ws + an H: Who? What? Where? When? Why? … and How? Let’s start to get to know your users, demographically. What’s there age? What’s there educational level? What’s there household composition? Do they have prior knowledge of your content? Have they heard about your brand or product? What’s there employment status or their role in the company?
  3. Let they tell you if they know about your brand or product. Have you heard about x? if yes, where and how. What do you think about the product? How’s make you feel? is it helpful? Where do you use it? Morning or evening? Routinely or occasionally? At home, on the transports, while driving. How are they accessing? Desktop? mobile or tablet? what browser of the operating system do they use?
  4. Optional you can summarise your questionnaire by requesting their contact, so if something relevant comes in you can also call that person for more detailed feedback but don’t force them to fill in the contact form. You might block all the answers by coming in by asking their personal details. Post your questions online and share the link on your social media accounts or email your co-workers, friends and family to share your questionnaire. Lucky enough you will have lots of answers very shortly. I advise to keep advertising and let it run for at least 3 days.

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