Top 3 reasons why builders in web3 need to do UX Research.

The reasons are:

  1. "Building in the Dark" increases the risk of creating meaningless products.

    1. A meaningless product is a “thing” that no one wants that solves a problem no one has.

    2. Doing research with users "Turns the Light On"

    3. The point is to understand peoples goals, tasks, contexts, constraints, emotions, behaviors, beliefs, problems, and capabilities. So you can create something that is usable, useful, and widely used.

  2. UX Research is like taking an insurance policy out on your product.

    1. UX Research is risk-management. And the best businesses are the ones who can manage risk.

    2. Engaging with users in the right way gives you an advantage because others can't or won’t. And with better insight and resources, the chances of winning increase.

    3. “Don’t Trust. Verify with Users.“

  3. UX Research protects your business by helping create better experiences.

    1. Builders don't research because they're scared.

    2. Researching users can help you fill the bucket, repair the leaky holes in a bucket, and keep the water in the bucket.

    3. Failure is mandatory but it doesn't have to happen in the market where stakes are high.

Reason 1: "Building in the Dark" increases the risk of creating meaningless products.

A meaningless product is a “thing” that no one wants that solves a problem nobody has.

It’s the classic, “solution looking for a problem” situation. I think it’s a delusion shared by builders who insulate themselves from actual users. Who would much rather be “creative” over spending lots of time understanding other people and their lives so that they can deliver a truly relevant solution.

If you don't understand your audience, your product will likely be "meaningless" to them. They provide the necessary feedback loops that keeps you and your product honest.

You can stop building in the dark by turning on the light -- by researching your users.

When you understand people’s:

  • Goals

  • Tasks

  • Contexts

  • Behaviors

  • Emotions

  • Beliefs

  • Problems

  • Capabilities

  • Constraints

You are in the ultimate position to create something that people can want. Instead of guessing, go out and figure it out with them.

These people are your teammates. They are not to be feared or disrespected because, at the end of the day, they are the ones that will make you successful.

Take action by attending an OpenUX Office Hours to learn about how you can make your users teammates through research.

For example, you’re thinking of building a new NFT marketplace

You've managed to raise some seed capital to build an MVP and hire a small team. Your vision is to build a "mobile-first" NFT marketplace that lets you "swipe" onchain art. If you swipe left, you mint the piece, if you swipe right, you skip it forever.

Your initial assumption is that art is all about the relationship between artist and art-enthusiast. And Tinder is the model for creating relationships online. So putting the two together makes sense.

The MVP gets made. People get hired. And you inch closer to releasing it.

You give it to 10 artists for "onboarding" purposes. They seem to like it and give you lots of compliments. But when you check analytics it's unclear if you've got a hit on your hands or if you’ve got a dud.

After a while, you get frustrated, since those artists seemed so supportive of your product. And so it doesn't make sense that their usage is so low.

A colleague suggests speaking with 5 of these artists to see what is going on. You create some non-leading questions beforehand and prepare by clearly defining what you want to learn:

  1. How do artists think about their relationship with their community?

  2. What, if anything, frustrates artists about releasing their art?

  3. Why aren’t the artists using the MVP?

You book time and start having conversations. It becomes immediately apparent that artists don’t think of their community in the way you thought they did. And so the swiping feature comes off as disingenuous. Which might be why they aren’t using it.

You also learn that artists actually have a lot of trouble distributing their content to collectors who have their other works. They find this important because it’s highly likely that existing collectors will mint new pieces over new collectors.

Then, you ask them about the MVP, and you learn that the MVP is way too hard to use. And they weren’t able to successfully upload their art without investing a lot of time.

Just in the 5 conversations, you’ve uncovered that you’ve been thinking about the problem all wrong. That there are specific things that artists care about most and that your MVP doesn’t address those. You also learn that the current MVP has some major usability problems -- and you now have a clearer idea about where to improve.

The feedback loop that these interactions give you can be enough to adjust the course your product is on. It is also a way to learn unintuitive insights into problems that can’t be found anywhere else.

It’s this feedback loop that gives you the chance to deliver a meaningful solution.

Reason 2: UX Research is like taking an insurance policy out on your product.

Having more insight than anyone else is the ultimate business strategy. Many people only dabble in understanding their users. But research gives you an edge by uncovering information others miss, choose to ignore, or can’t find.

It lowers risk for the product, company, and yourself.

For example, you're going to invest $120k for a smart contract audit.

You’re told that if your product uses a smart contract, then this is a important investment to make. So you go ahead and find a vendor who can do it for you.

The vendor completes the audit, suggests some minor fixes, and gives you the green light to launch. The formal verification conducted by this vendor is important when the stakes are this high.

You then launch your product.

But let’s say, after launch, you realize that parts of your front-end experience are not working the way you intended it to. You notice that users are frustrated trying to do things on your product.

In a world where FUD can kill products, this is a problem. Frustrating experiences lead to people trusting your product less. And when people trust your product less, then you risk killing your business.

And so, even though your smart contracts are secure, it’s like they never existed at all, if the interface to those contracts doesn’t do it’s job.

That’s why conducting a formal UX verification is as important as a smart contract verification. Nobody wants the most frustrating way to do something. And so, save your users from that pain by verifying that your product is doing what it needs to.

Reach out to OpenUX to learn more about our 5-week formal UX verification service.

Research protects your biggest downside.

It clarifies your users goals. It uncovers what people are trying to do in certain situations instead of relying on opinions.

It is the ultimate form of “Don’t trust. Verify”. Maybe it’s time builders take their own medicine. Don’t trust your assumptions. Use research to verify them.

“Don’t trust. Verify with users.“

And once you verify, you’ll be able to avoid things that will cost you a lot of problems later down the line.

Your users don’t care about your goals, they care about theirs. So make it your goal to understand them and invest in helping your users reach their goals.

Verify that you’re understanding them.

If you do, they will pull you to greater heights.

Reason 3: UX Research protects your business by helping create better experiences.

Here are some facts about building products.

Products that fail to…

  • Acquire people to use their product, fail.

  • Retain those people, fail.

  • Create value for those people, fail.

  • Capture value from those people, fail.

Researching your users influences the types of failure you’ll experience.

It can help you:

  • Discover where people are hanging out online and appropriate ways to get your offer in front of them. (Acquisition)

  • Evaluate every part of your product so that churn becomes a "value" problem, not a "usability" problem (Retention)

  • Understand peoples goals, constraints and contexts to see if your solution fits into their lives (Value Creation)

  • Uncover how and if people will pay by running small experiments in the market (Value Capture)

And instead of failing in the market. You can fail in a “sandbox” where running experiments is your ticket to building something great.

For example, you’re trying to figure out how to grow.

But after spending time researching your users, you realize that growth isn’t your problem.

Retention is.

It’s like having a leaky bucket. You learn that a large chunk of new users coming in churn within 7 days of first use. And when you go to learn why, it’s because your product is confusing to use.

You already understand how to acquire more users. You’ve confirmed that you can capture value based on your value proposition. But the “Value Creation” and “Retention” piece are limiting your growth.

And so, to grow, it may actually be true that you have to work on preventing churn. So you invest resources to “plug the leaky bucket” and test again.

And again. And again.

You’re going to fail. It’s your choice where. In the market? Or in the sandbox?

Building something new and bringing it to market can be scary. But, you can reduce your anxiety by doing UX Research early and often, with support from experts. Like OpenUX.

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