There's been a shift in using technology recently, users are increasingly opting for self-service applications. Customers want more control over their interactions with your business and the more you can put them in the driver’s seat, the happier they’ll be.
Want to know more about starting your own self-service offering? Watch the on-demand webinar full of tips and tricks on how to expand your current business with a DIY ticketing offering.
So you've decided to add a 'self-service' offering to your current solution, allowing your customers to manage their ticket business from scratch to 'on sale'. Now the fun begins, how will you do that? One of your options is (re-)building your current technology. That can be quite a challenge: you're working with diverse user profiles, each with their own focus and goals. To envision and create an intuitive and rich application that will result in higher conversion rates, you'll need a decent plan of approach. That's why we collected the 5 necessary steps to reach the self-service UX heaven your users dream of.
Step 1: User research
You can never effectively create self-service products for users unless you understand your customers. "How does a user think & behave?" and "What are the main drivers that motivate them?", are some of the questions that that should cross your mind.
User research is about observing behaviour and patterns of your users. The things they say and actually do are never really the same.There are two types of research you should perform: a formative and summative assessment:
A formative assessment happens before the product or feature is built. The purpose is to understand the needs and motivations of the user.
A summative assessment happens after the initial prototypes or designs have been created. The purpose here is to collect feedback about the product-adoption and understandability.
Step 2: Roadmap management
For every project or product, there will come a time when users start proposing product ideas, features or improvements. They will share their input during the assessments or just through your support team. While it is important to write down all your user requests (e.g. gather them in a centralised idea bucket), it's even more essential to maintain your self-service strategy.
Not all user requests will benefit your product even though they might be good and usable features. The key principles you have to keep in mind concerning self-service are:
Strategy & focus: ask yourself whether the addition fits the product and/or long-term vision;
Use cases vs edge cases: ask yourself whether the request is a valid use case or just supports the misusage of a feature;
Complexity & understandability: ask yourself whether non-informed users can understand the purpose or usage of the feature;
Usage: ask yourself whether the addition will actually be used
Asking yourself and your users these four critical questions will, in the end, result in a better overall user experience.
Step 3: Product specification
Designing something is not only about the visual aspects but also about how it should work. A well designed self-service product takes all use cases into account while maintaining a pleasant interaction with the user.
Product specifications are created to formalise use cases, edge cases, error handling and, more importantly, out of scope cases. It's very important to define what is out of scope or planned later to ensure good expectation management and decrease the chance of over-engineering.
Product specifications can later be used to create time estimates, project proposals or as the base for test cases.
Step 4: Prototyping
The design process requires an extra step before the actual design phase can start: creating prototypes. They allow testing and quickly iterating different ideas and implementations. A prototype is a broad representation of the product using default components with interactions but without any specific look and feel.
When you see a prototype, the most important thing about it is that you can see it! When the user can view and understand all of the steps involved with the product, especially the areas of contention for future testing, that prototype comes to life.
At this point, it's possible to gather both internal and external feedback by performing a summative assessment using the prototypes. Afterwards, it's quick and easy to adapt the prototype based on that feedback.
Step 5: Visual design
Creating a high-fidelity look and feel of a product or service can now be done based on the information gathered in previous steps. The product specifications and prototypes are now approved and the user feedback is processed.
The perfect look and feel for the product will require some creative skills and knowledge such as the right usage of colours, grids, layouts, typography, iconography and branding. This is all tied to the visual expression of the brand and how the company wants to express itself.
The look and feel of the product facilitates in supporting the user experience, rather than being the experience itself. That's why it's very important to not over design in order to avoid spoiling the user's experience.
By following these 5 steps you'll be able to create and maintain intuitive self-service applications. As you can see, it's not something you should get into unprepared. We, at Oxynade, have taken the time and have done the investment, together with a specialised UX/UI designer, to do this entire exercise. This has resulted in our new back-office. Take a look to discover it yourself.
Are you still unsure what you should do? Here are the reasons why you shouldn't rush into self-service. You can now also order our webinar on demand and find out what's the best approach for your specific business model.
Building your UX/UI optimised technology or using our technology that's already UX/UI compliant, will allow you to put your new offering in the market, learn more on how to now develop your new marketing strategy and make it work.
This blogpost is written by our CTO, Brenden Cambier.