How can a Belarusian company do UX research without doing research

PRAS art director explains in gifs

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In the last "sad but true" article, we talked about why everything is difficult with UX / UI design in Belarus. Let's discuss what to do if the customer is careful about budget allocation and we cannot conduct (or order) a serious study. In our column, Aliaksej Kulbicki, PRAS Art Director, shows the sequence of actions on gifs in a fascinating way. 

There are two ways. The first is to immerse yourself in sadness, make random interfaces, drink coffee and write heart-pounding texts on Facebook. The second way: get a hold of yourself, your head, open sources, analytical skills - and do a little research.

There is one condition: you need time. Of course, if we want to get more or less good product.

Step 1. Arms to the sides. Breath

When your eyes are already on fire but your hands aren't quite sure what to do yet - the designers at our company usually create a 'New Folder+' catalogue. And so it begins:

  • we greedily search, thoughtfully browse, and carefully put into a separate folder everything that has to do with projects similar to those under development and already implemented (pictures, videos, cases, etc.);
  • we make a list of references for the project and browse through them with at least one eye, but more often we still read the selected texts.

Step 2. Bending and straightening

At this stage, we start molding the image of the target audience out of informational (and sometimes rubber) playdough. There are several services that help things move faster and more energetically. For example, Pichler Consulting, UserForge and UXPin.

A standard set of steps familiar to everyone:

  • we come up with a beautiful name for the potential user (Alevtina) and a speaking last name (First-Time-Going-To-Fitness);
  • get the user a job (lawyer);
  • we think over Alevtina’s goals and needs, ask ourselves questions: what a girl can be afraid of, be shy about, what she could strive for - and form answers that we will rely on in the future.

Everything seems to have been clear for a long time, but in the process, as it happens with any hard-working team, we came to the conclusion: design and engineering are built not only on invented personalities, but also on empathy for real people. It is important to listen to future users (and everyone in general), remember their opinions, conclusions, motives - with time you can become a good "psychologist from the plough-tail" and anticipate how users will behave with your products.

Even what users wear and what they eat affects their behavior in relation to IT developments, which is why we have a habit of discussing fashion and cultural trends in our company, especially in movies.

For example, here's what we can say in advance about Alevtina First-Time-Going-To-Fitness: she probably does not want anyone to know about her decision to get into shape, because we are developing an app for Belarus, where this topic is still quite sensitive, so she is unlikely to ask friends, colleagues or acquaintances for help. Accordingly, the app we are developing should give her everything she needs to make a smart choice - with smart filters, finding out age, habits and hobbies.

Let's take a real example.

We made a museum catalogue, which requires one intelligent moderator and an administrator from each museum in Belarus. Obviously, different museums might have exhibits related to the same personage. The admins started filling the catalogue and we got upset: everyone called, for example, Vladimir Korotkevich in his own way - Karatkevich U. S., Vladimir Korotkevich, V. Korotkevich, etc. With this approach, it would have been difficult for the user to find the object. We worked on the system and unified everything: we created a drop-down list with an already specified form of each author's name. As a result, the admins [portrait: Inna Ivanovna, 40+, feels like a guest in the world of computer technology] got a convenient tool for work, and the user [portrait: researcher Semen Valentinovich, 35+, thesis defence in a year] - an electronic catalogue, where the desired item is found in a few seconds.

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