You need to decide how much user research, design, and usability testing you can afford. This depends on your competitive market, business objectives, and release cycles.
During the early phases of a product development lifecycle, activities include conducting market, customer, and competitive user research. User research may include surveys, focus groups, interviews, and contextual inquiries. Other research activities can include preliminary, internal research with Training, Support, Field Services, and other Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for a particular market, market segment, and solution. Verify business needs with Sales. Verify your technical assumptions with Engineering.
During the design phase, activities include the development of low-fidelity prototypes to validate that user interfaces and workflows are appropriate for your target customers and users. Review prototypes of your design solutions with stakeholders: Product Design for usability best practices; Engineering for the best technology solutions; business stakeholders to ensure your designs meet business needs; and SMEs to ensure your solutions meet market, target customer, and target user needs. Continue validating your design solutions with target customers and users, and iterate your designs until they have achieved a high level of satisfaction with them.
During the development phase, continue to evaluate your design solutions’ ease of use with target customers and users. Develop a Usability Test Plan, schedule and conduct usability studies, compile and analyze data, and refine your user interface design as necessary. Develop or revise your UX Guidelines and create UX Specifications.
This blog series is based on the article Winning in the Marketplace: How Much User Experience Effort Does It Take?