Real World Value

By: Victor, Co-Founder at Axure

“I don’t think anyone is using it”… “I can’t believe we spent months building this”… “Should we roll it back?” These are not the words you want to hear after your team has poured their efforts into a release. Sadly, these sentiments usually mean customers are feeling let down or worse, misled and aren’t able to get the promised value.

If you’ve ever been involved in a project like this, welcome to the club. In our collective defense, projects can be driven from any number of other directions within or outside the business other than observing users or doing task analysis. For example, they can start from internal requests, trying to match competitors, attempts to reduce support, or fulfilling the product mission. It’s not hard to get swept up in the excitement and pressures of the project without truly looking at it from the user point of view.

Real World ValueUsers want to get something done that is valuable to them in the real world whether that’s an actual task or something more emotionally-driven. For example, real world value from a Human Resources application might be achieved when an employee quickly gets official approval for time off so they can plan their vacation. It would be disappointing if a feature made it easy to request time off but left the request sitting in a manager’s inbox for weeks. Am I supposed to remind my manager to approve it now? Sigh.

These days, when considering an idea, I want to see it from the user’s perspective, starting from the moment a user realizes they want to accomplish something. Then, take me through the experience until the user achieves real world value. If that’s not how it’s presented, get ready for the “Why”s starting with “Why do users want this?”. Turns out, this is a pretty good way to transform an idea into the user point of view.

For example:

“We want to build a Request Time Off form.”

         “Why do the users want this?”

“They want to request time off.”

        “Why do they want to request time off?”

“They want to get approval.”

        “Why?”

“So they can make plans.”

Perfect! Now show me a prototype starting from the moment a user thinks to request time off and ends when they are able to book a plane ticket for their dream vacation. I can already imagine how much the design of this HR application has changed. 

“I booked the last seats on the flight just in time. Thank you!”… “My kids are going to see their grandparents for the first time in years. Thank you!”… “Can’t believe we were able to take that trip to Yosemite. Thank you!” That’s more like it. Transforming feature ideas into the user point of view and creating prototypes that show how they’ll achieve real world value goes a long way to ensuring that customers will truly appreciate your team’s hard work.