Applied Data: Transforming UX from the Ground Up.

A panel discussion on how UX designers use data to make design decisions.

Amaani Hamid
August 28, 2013

When creating a digital interface, designers must often balance the clashing needs of the client and those of the end user. For example, on an e-commerce site, the client may want to emphasize a high-priced piece of merchandise, which may turn off the user (especially if it’s not a well-known luxury brand). In these kinds of situations, who should the designer listen to? This was one of the questions posed to a panel of expert UX designers and researchers at Huge San Francisco’s recent event on user data and design. 

On the price question—as with all UX decisions in e-commerce—understanding what different kinds of users are looking for at a given moment in the digital experience is key, says AnswerLab’s Principal User Experience Researcher John Cheng. Does a given user really never expect to pay a high price for a particular good or service—which would raise larger questions about the overall business model—or is the off-putting price simply being shown at the wrong time in the experience and if so, when is the right time?

Close analysis of user data is required, Method’s Catherine Nygaard says. Focus on understanding the loyalists first. Follow with the “aspirationalists,” who may be less likely to buy but can still conceive of that high price point. Next, try to identify an unexplored demographic, based on what’s been learned about the loyalists and aspirationalists. Sometimes, this means gathering qualitative data on purchasing habits in the physical stores themselves. 

Matt Gallivan, a User Experience Researcher at Facebook, looks at the interplay between big and small data to inform the design of Facebook’s ad sales section. From combing through large sets of data he knows “there is a bid type that is most affective for advertisers,” but there is another point that draws users. Understanding why that happens will encourage designers to create an interface that will nudge users towards a better selection type. Gallivan adds that finding a way to build trust with your user is another important step in the process.

Watch the video to listen to these panelists and Stamen’s George Oates discuss how quantitative and qualitative data can work together, ethics when collecting and using data, transforming data into actionable insights, and more.