Test Your UX: Hire a ‘Customer’

UX, or User Experience Design, is an ongoing process. Customers change and so does your company. Even if you love your recent conversion rates, that statistic won’t tell you how those online visitors who became customers experienced your business.

Customer surveys matter, but customers are buying, not testing. That’s why evaluation after a transaction produces a collection of general (often non-actionable) feedback or emotional extremes.

What is a ‘paid discovery’ session?

If you are looking for a writer, web developer or similar creative professional, ask about “paid discovery,” an in-depth research package. Paid discovery, and its deliverables, vary, and some creative businesses offer this as a stand-alone service.

The process could include  exploring your website, social media and/or other digital properties, or a “mock user experience,” in which one of your team members treats the creative professional as a potential customer who has been converted into a client or customer through a purchase. (The mock user experience is essentially a role-playing exercise, exploring how it feels to encounter your business and its touchpoints throughout the sales process. Any emails or automated marketing messages should be included in this user experience examination.)

How can paid discovery help my business?

If you hire the creative professional, and agree some or all of the project-related research was completed through the paid discovery sessions, this can reduce the cost to complete your creative project. (You’ve already paid for the research portion, normally included in the total project estimate.)

Even if you choose not to hire that creative professional for additional assignments, a paid discovery session is still beneficial. Observations about your customer experience can help you tweak your own processes, information and workflows, or you can share those findings with the writer or web developer you hire in the future. Comments from a paid discovery session can include:

  • the strengths and weaknesses of your existing customer/user experience, including emotions that experience may generate.
  • your brand’s consistent or inconsistent expression in its digital properties.
  • gaps in the availability or digestibility of your information, whether online or printed marketing collateral.

Every paid discovery session is as unique as the business it explores. The best way to uncover what your paid discovery session will examine – and teach you about your customer experience – is to ask about potential deliverables, such as a written report, before your purchase.