Technology may have its dark sides (thanks for all those nightmares, Black Mirror), but there’s no denying that it’s made people’s lives better. From the ever-evolving computer to self-driving cars, we’ve found ways to leverage technology to solve the world’s biggest problems. But how can we take that a step further? How can we tailor baseline technology to fix very specific pain points people have?
Let’s illustrate this point with a story. VolunteerMatch is a digital platform that connects individuals with volunteering opportunities in their area. In addition to serving millions of volunteers and tens of thousands of organizations, VolunteerMatch also offers Corporate Solutions that are tailored specifically for companies wanting to make volunteering easier for their employees.
With COVID-19, VolunteerMatch has shifted its technology to better serve the needs of all their users—volunteers and non-profits alike. In this blog post, they explain their process of collecting information on critical needs, fears, and hopes during this time of uncertainty.
Leveraging this information, they created a virtual community on Slack to engage representatives across sectors in sharing support and resources and launched a volunteering portal specific to promoting virtual and local volunteering opportunities with nonprofits around the country. This intentionality and commitment to information-gathering is a clear example of digital generosity towards users.
Here’s another example.
When we were working on Vera, we dedicated a lot of time and resources toward:
- Answering feature requests in reviews and emails and added valuable suggestions to the backlog
- Responding to and noting feedback on Instagram
- Running user tests with key iterations of the app
Because of this generosity and compassion for our user’s pain points, we were able to maintain a high rating on the app store and get featured on publications like Mashable. We helped ourselves by increasing our downloads, and the users benefited from an amazing (free!) product.
How to prioritize feature requests
Something we learned early on with Vera is that you aren’t going to be able to please all your users. Being able to work alongside a Product Manager to prioritize feature requests will be imperative as you’re scaling. You’ll want to take into account the number of times you’ve received requests for a specific feature and the level of effort when prioritizing new features for your product.
Maybe you want to prioritize the requests of paying customers first. Or maybe you want to knock out a feature that you know will distinguish you from your competitors. No matter how you choose, keep in mind that generosity toward your end user is the main goal.
Prototyping and user testing
One way you can be generous towards your customers and users is through Prototyping and User Testing. Before you can test a digital product with users, you need to have a prototype that they can interact with.
Our designers typically build out these prototypes in Figma, but any other collaborative design tool can work, too. Having high-fidelity prototypes of designs rather than wireframes ensures users get the full experience while testing. With Figma, testers can provide feedback directly in the design file via comments.
This theoretically allows user testing to be completed asynchronously, as users can provide feedback on their own time. While we recommend a video call, this may be a better option if you’re conducting several users tests in a short period of time.
User testing allows you to witness user reactions as you’re walking them through the flow. We prepare scripts ahead of time and record sessions to ensure the process is hassle-free for our testers. Some sample questions we ask during a user test include:
- Is there anything on this screen that you were expecting that wasn’t there?
- Is there anything on this screen that’s confusing or misleading?
- Would you use this feature? How would you use it?
- What are your initial reactions to this screen?
When scheduling user tests, you’ll want to consider the main demographics that will be using your product. That might include a variety of roles within your company (internal software) or user profiles for consumer-facing apps (ie: male vs female, teens vs elderly).
Testing, testing, testing
Testing your product thoroughly is one of the most generous things you can do for your users. It shows that you value their time and you want to create the best experience possible for them. There are a few important things to keep in mind when testing:
The geography and timezone of your users
If you want to reach an international audience, you’ll want to invest in a native speaker that can translate text accurately. In some cases, there may even be cultural norms that require small tweaks in the app.
If you’re releasing an app intentionally that has a Chinese translation, consider the devices that are used most commonly there. It may be tricky to get ahold of a Huawei device, but it will be worth it in the long run. There are also plenty of mobile testing tools out there to help you out.
Make sure the times in app convert based on user location. Different zip codes or customs could mean you have to change how you’re testing to accommodate those cultures.
All use cases
Users don’t always use the app as expected, and that’s ok. Test engineers spend time thinking outside the box to consider ways users could use that app. How users expect the app to work is the most important, and sometimes the flow and functionality have to change to accommodate this.
You want to make sure you’re showing generosity towards all of your potential users, including those who might have a disability. Apple does a great job of this, as seen through this video of a blind person interacting with their iPhone. Contrast of colors, ease of use, screen reader tab index, and alt text on images are all ways you can make your product more accessible.
At the beginning of an engagement, Test engineers collect data on the most common configurations of devices users are using to provide a testing strategy. If most of the users are using iPhone 11 with Safari browsers, that will end up being their number one configuration with the highest priority. Depending on how many users use each configuration, they collaborate with the product owner to establish bug severity levels. More common configurations get higher levels. This can include:
- Speed: 3G, 4G etc.
- Type: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge. etc.
- Device: iPhone, Android, Huawei, etc.
Creating a frictionless experience is key, and bugs build friction in places you don’t want them. Clients can be bug hunters too, so don’t sweat it if you can’t afford a full-time test engineer.
Better solutions, better world
When showing generosity toward your end user, it’s important to keep in mind the importance of accessibility, feature requests, thorough testing, and prototyping. Not only does this generosity help you retain users and maintain a positive reputation, but it also helps build a better world.
In our third and final part of this Digital Generosity series, we’ll break this down even further to explain how you can show generosity towards the world through digital solutions. If you missed it, check out part 1 where we discuss generosity towards internal employees with technology.