God help the business that dares to make a decision based on something other than data analytics.
Today, in almost every startup-related profession, making decisions that are not data-driven is considered a heinous crime, punished by dismissal. Analytics have become the key factor of every decision making process in successful teams.
Whether it’s marketing, product, development or design, analytics promises to provide unbiased, in-your-face information about your team and the performance of your products.
The Power of Data-Driven Decisions
No excuses or sugarcoating can replace the cold harsh truth of data.
As Tom Betts, former VP of customer analytics and research at Pearson Professional, once said: "Data keeps you honest."
By tracking key metrics in your product, you can understand its performance and detect problems — from usability issues to problems with core features and user retention.
You can track number of pages seen by users, features used by users, track abandonment and friction points, analyze conversions, value and ROI. You can discover issues within your product for every step of your funnel.
But can you really understand how users use and experience your product?
Addressing Analytical Blind Spots
Quantitative data always had a gap that couldn’t be bridged. You can see the who, where, when and what, but you can't explain why and how.
To understand your user’s experience you have to go much deeper than “did they click or scroll.”
You need to get to “what did they actually do?” and “How did they engage with the product?”
You need to see their behavior, and not just the numeric summary of it.
That’s why every professional user experience (UX) designer or product manager knows that user testing and interviews are the key to understanding users.
It’s finding the whys and how's that really makes your product user-centric. You have to see the way they make decisions, and understand the movement of their mouse, the way they behave, the choices they make.
Limitations of User Testing
But user testing also has its problems. It’s usually an extensive process that requires both financial and time-consuming resources.
Finding the right candidates, setting up a testing environment with the tools and facilities necessary for a test, getting the users to actually show up and then perform the test — all for qualitative data which you might not even use.
For a startup, conducting usability tests can be too challenging. Driving companies to miss out on much needed optimization opportunities and on truly getting insights on their newly forming product, when they need those insights the most.
The result of not testing your product with real users can range from a failing launch to shutting down a product.
To gap this issue, there are some tools and platforms built to help you, from one-time solutions to foundations for enhanced infrastructures.
Filling Analytical Gaps with User Video Sessions
There are two main solutions: Buying user feedback online and recording real user sessions.
You can use services, which connects you to users who’ll review your product and send you a recording of their sessions including comments and insights.
Another option is using user session recording tools that offers the ability to track, record and watch every session made by your users, segment those users by behavior and demographic qualities, and combine analytics data with visual, qualitative data in a way that take the traditional, N/N Group style usability testing to the next level.
Neither option enables you to see the user’s physical reaction. But the insight you can gather from watching recordings by different segments of your audience, without a limit, are priceless, and can help you sell the case for actual user testing in your company.
Imagine watching sessions by users between the ages of 25 and 30, then comparing them with sessions by users between the ages of 40 and 45 just to learn that users aged 40 to 45 are having trouble recognizing the hamburger menu you pushed so hard to include.
In a real-life user-testing scenario, your team would easily spot this. By watching a user session recording, you’d spot the issue, and even though you wouldn’t get the feedback you’d get with face-to-face user testing: it will take you 1/1000th of the time to test, dissect and analyze the data.
'Why' vs. 'What'
Understanding your users is key to reaching product market fit. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with high volumes of users or just building your initial base.
Watching your users interact with your product will give you 10 times the actionable insight of numeric results.
When trying to understand people, and to really build a human-centric product, your biggest questions are generally not “what they did” but “why they did it.”
How are you discovering what your audience really wants from your product?