Client Expectations vs. User Validation - How to handle differences
One of the many challenges that every web designer face is to know how to handle the possible conflicts between client expectations and user validation while not neglecting user verification during the design process.
When a web agency can handle these three elements correctly and professionally, the end product will meet the satisfaction of both the client and the user.
Understanding the difference between client expectation, user validation, and user verification may not be straightforward. However, the roles they play are so central to a web project that they cannot be neglected. Therefore, let’s consider these elements in detail with the goal of understanding how they must be used in order to create a successful web project.
Usually, the client expectation is the starting point of each web project. The client approaches the web agency with an idea or concept that he wants to develop. However, at times, he may not have clearly in mind what he wants to accomplish specifically; but he has a business goal that he wants to achieve.
When a client contacts the web agency, he may already have an idea in mind. For instance: the look of the interface, a set of functionalities, how the web product will perform and so on. This is what we define as client expectations.
What Is User Validation?
User validation, which is also called user experience validation, is one of the most important aspects to successfully accomplish the project. User validation consists of putting your product in the hands of the final users for testing. They will give you a thumbs up or thumbs down, based on their experience.
The goal of user validation is to ascertain whether the project meets the expectations of the user, addressing their needs and concerns. This is a critical test since what may occur is that client expectations are not the same as what users are requesting and, as a result, a change of direction for the project may be necessary.
What Is User Verification?
User verification is closely related to the technical side of your project and it is a task that mainly rests on the web designer. As the project develops, the web agency must always verify that the web design is compliant with the specified requirements. User verification is needed to avoid and resolve any bugs, as well as, create a web product accessible from a variety of devices and operating systems.
How to Solve Differences Between Client Expectations and User Validation
Client expectations and user validation are two valuable sources of information. However, having them work together may be a challenge.
Giving priority to client expectations, without considering the user validation, may lead to a lot of wasted time and money, and an underperforming, or possibly, a web product that does not perform at all. What may occur is that you will end up with a product that is to the liking of the client, but is not useful to the users.
Therefore, once you realize that the users do not validate your product, you will have to work hard to modify the project and comply with the users’ demand. This scenario results in a considerable waste of time and money, in order to fix this problem.
On the other hand, listening only to final users and not caring about meeting client expectations, may result in utter disappointment and dissatisfied clients. Your client may not understand the reasons behind your design choices and perceive you as not capable of meeting his demand. Additionally, you may end up building a web solution that is incapable of achieving the business goals that the client wants.
To find the right balance between client expectations and user validation requires a considerable amount of analyzing and insight. The way in which the web agency approaches the project from the beginning and through all of the stages of development is crucial to achieving success.
At QPSoftware we have adopted the Core model and Scrum approach. We have found these methods to be excellent in combining client expectations and user validation to create the best web solution possible. These two methodologies are useful in several ways.
Two Methodologies to Solve Client Expectations vs. User Validation Issues
The Core Model
The primary goal of the core model is to clearly define the real objective of a website or a digital solution. The core model approach uses analyzing and brainstorming processes with both the client and the users before even starting the design process.
The purpose of doing this, is to isolate the client’s primary business goals and the users' task. Once both the client and the web agency agree on these points, the design process will start and can then develop around the clearly defined core content. This, in turn, will satisfy both the client’s expectations and the users’ needs.
The advantages of the core model approach are that it clearly and easily helps to solve conflicting issues between the client’s expectations and user validation.
During the preliminary phase, the client will be kept informed of the product under development, and why decisions connected with it are being made. If the client’s idea differs from what the users are requesting, the client will be presented with all of the evidence that shows the reasons an adjustment to his project is necessary, and he will have to approve this before starting the project.
At the same time, we will use surveys performed through field studies, interviews with users, sales and support interviews, and more, to discover the real needs of the market. They may even bring to the surface new market opportunities, or user needs, that still need to be addressed, which will contribute to creating a web solution that leads to a positive user validation.
The Scrum Approach
The project process continues to be controlled even after the core model is joined with the Scrum approach. The development activity will be divided into several sprints or sections. At the end of each sprint, the work developed will be tested to make sure that it is in line with the overall scope of the project and that it performs well on multiple devices and operating systems. Then, testing done by real users will reveal if final users will be happy with the result.
The Scrum approach avoids wasting time and money unnecessarily. If, at the end of a sprint, a discrepancy or a problem is detected; it will be corrected easily and quickly, and the project can proceed at full speed. Then, once the project is completed, both the client and the user will be satisfied.
User validation and client expectations are two important factors in every web project. Neither of them can be neglected. If they are, the chances of success likely will be reduced considerably.
It is mainly the web agency’s responsibility to play the role of the middleman in order to find the right solution and to have all involved working in unison to achieve the intended goals.
Even though the preparation process may require a considerable amount of time, you will never regret it. Once the goals are clearly defined and supported by evidence, you will be able to optimize your project. It will save time, money, and avoid the disappointment of having a web product that doesn’t produce the desired results.