user insights

User insights inform the design of a new customer portal for an Atlanta manufacturing company

by Sep 24, 2019

This is a good example of how user insights drove the design of a new customer portal.  An Atlanta-based manufacturing company wanted to add an eCommerce portal to its website so that customers could log in, access pricing, check inventory, and place and track orders.

The leadership team had a long list of features they were considering for the portal.  They needed to find out which features their customers would value most.

The company was starting from scratch in the design of the customer portal. They didn’t want to waste time and resources building features that customers didn’t need.  So, they asked UX Firm to find out what their customers want in a portal.

Remote moderated usability testing provide insights

You can ask people what they want in a survey or focus group, and you might gain some insights that inform design.  But, in our experience, nothing beats observing users engaged with the interface and learning from them what they like, what they don’t like, what they use and what they don’t use.

We got all those user insights and more through remote moderated usability testing.  These came from watching and learning from our clients’ customers as they used competitors’ portals.

In one-hour sessions, each user went to a competitor’s portal where they had an account and showed us how they use the portal.  We learned what they like about the portal, what they use and don’t use, and what they would change to make their experience better.  If a test participant had access to more than one portal, we got them to compare and contrast their experience to show us which aspects they liked better on one portal or the other.

usability testing

The client learns what works and what doesn’t

There was a clear winner for the best portal design and several that fell far short of the goal of good customer experience.

In short order–this was a small usability study–the main features and functionality of the best customer portal became clear.  Likewise, the customer portals that failed to provide a satisfying user experience also became clear.

“Nothing beats observing users engaged with the interface and learning from them what they like, what they don’t like, what they use and what they don’t use.”

The customer drives the design

Based on our findings, the client was able to quickly understand what the top issues were.  As a result, the client put their customers in the driver’s seat to direct the portal design.

The result was a shorter development timeline to launch the website’s customer portal.

User Insights Example

user insights
  • A manufacturing company needed to narrow down which features their customers would value most for a customer portal they were designing from scratch.
  • We conducted a small remote moderated usability study where we (1) observed their customers using competitors’ portals and (2) learned what they liked and didn’t like.
  • This usability study helped the company speed up the development and launch of the portal by focusing on the features that provided a good customer experience.

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Photos by David Travis on Unsplash

Carol Barnum

Carol brings her academic background and years of teaching and research to her work with clients to deliver the best research approaches that have proven to produce practical solutions. Carol’s many publications (6 books and more than 50 articles) have made a substantial contribution to the body of knowledge in the UX field. The 2nd edition of her award-winning handbook Usability Testing Essentials is now available.