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The Importance of Experience Research in App Development

The Importance of Experience Research in App Development

When undertaking any new project, it is important to consider the data obtained from experience research prior to any risky decision making. This type of research focuses on understanding the experiences and motivations that drive a target audience. Neglecting the data that comes from this research can lead to projects that do not effectively target the wants and needs of the intended audience, and as a result, fail.

In the world of app development, experience research is particularly important. According to App Annie’s State of Mobile 2019 report, it was found that across the globe in 2018, $101 billion was spent on application downloads. For context, it is comparable to the amount of money Australian consumers spend on fashion and recreation each year combined! App development is a popular industry, and our heavy reliance on electronics means that this is unlikely to change anytime soon. 

To properly use experience research in app development, it is important that the value of the data obtained is understood. Experience research works by answering the questions: “What are people doing”, and “why are people doing it”. Following this, an opportunity space may be identified that is based on meaningful data. Here is a closer look at the steps involved in experience research that will get you started on your app development project today. 

The “What”. 

The first piece of information to be gleaned from experience research is what your target audience is currently doing. For example, let’s say you are hoping to develop an app for millennials, that aims at delivering the weather forecast in a fun and innovative way. In order to determine the best way to approach this, you will need to understand what millennials are currently doing to obtain the weather forecast. Furthermore, you will need to understand how much time they spend on their phone, what type of apps they use and whether or not they are inclined to pay for their apps. 

You can probe much deeper into this topic, to the point of deciding what colour app icon will attract your target audience. Most of this information can be obtained from Deloitte or The Australian Bureau of Statistics.  Once you have collated your data pertaining to how your target audience is operating in the weather forecast space, you can move onto the why. 

The “Why”.

To reach a deeper level of understanding when it comes to your target audience, you must understand the “why” behind the “what”. If you had discovered that most millennials are currently accessing their weather forecast information through a website, then you should question the steps that lead them there. Is this site integrated with another? Is it easier to use than the existing weather apps? Has it been endorsed by a popular celebrity? 

Understanding the why will help you identify the problems facing your audience, and the current solutions they adopt to counteract them. This will push you to make informed decisions regarding how you will endeavour to solve these problems. Data shows that positive customer experiences draw consumers back to a product, and in some cases can be more influential than advertising. Put a large emphasis on understanding why, and the opportunity will present itself.

The Opportunity.

After conducting thorough research to identify the “what” and “why” of your target audiences’ behaviour, you may formulate a plan for your app development. The recommendation you provide may be that an app will fail in this space and that it is more worthwhile to divert funds to another project. If you decide to give a recommendation along these lines, it will be based on grounded research, and provide stakeholders with the information required to make an informed decision. 

In contrast, you may identify a small gap that may be filled by your project. It can be as simple as integrating your weather forecast app with one focused on productivity. In any case, experience research will provide the tools you need to make important decisions for your app development project. Good luck!

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