Skip to main content
5 minute read

How user research will help you create better digital products, whatever stage you’re at

User research provides valuable insight that will help you create better digital products and services, whatever stage you’re at.

Whether you want to reinvigorate an established product or provide direction for a new concept or idea, research enables evidence-based decision-making.

Teenage boy using digital tablet Feed square
by Graphite Digital
05 December 23
  • User Research
  • Digital Product Success
  • Digital Design

No matter what stage you’re at in the digital product development process, user research will provide valuable insight and understanding to help you move forward. It can help validate ideas and concepts and provide direction at the very start of the journey, or enable you to breathe new life into an established product or service.

Read on to learn how user research can support you at every stage, and which methods might be the most suitable.

Discovery and ideation stage

If you’ve got an idea for a new digital product that you want to explore, user research should always be the first step. No matter how convinced you are that your idea is a good one, it’s essential to seek insights from your target users to provide direction and understanding.

You might be thinking of creating a new digital patient support tool, but need to understand the daily routines and digital habits of your specific patient population to provide direction about how and if they would engage with a new solution. It may be that you are creating a new HCP education tool, but need to understand the content formats that will be most appropriate and useful.

When conducting this early-stage user research, it’s important to listen to the insights and act on what you learn. In some cases, this may mean a significant change in direction from your initial plans, or even that some ideas get ruled out completely.

It’s important to note, however, that users won’t always know exactly what the best end solution should look like. You are the experts when it comes to the creation of your digital tool, but they can help you understand the full context of the problem they are facing so you can create something that will really help them.

Early iterations and prototypes

During the next stages of the product development process, user research will provide crucial insight about your product’s future success before significant investment in things such as technical development and creating launch campaigns.

By getting a prototype or MVP (minimum viable product) version of your product in front of users early, you’ll be able to identify any issues with usability and design before committing. The prototype will look and feel just like the end product, but with limited functionality. It allows you to express the end vision in a visually rich, clickable format to enhance shared understanding and help you achieve buy-in.

It can be the perfect launchpad for further phases of product development and investment. The process of repeat ideation and testing allows you to validate ideas and features with customers quickly, helping to accelerate product development with a reduced implementation cost.

When launching a complex digital product that requires integration and extensive development work, such as an HCP or patient portal, it’s important to seek user insight as early as possible to ensure you’re on the right track and uncover any issues early.

Newly launched product

If you’ve recently launched your digital product, user research will help identify any issues and areas for improvement before you develop further iterations or add new features and content.

Usability testing can be a particularly useful research tool at this stage. By observing first-hand how your users interact with your digital products and seeing what they struggle with or excel at, you’ll be able to make changes to improve the customer experience.

As usability testing is carried out by real-life users, it can uncover issues and opportunities that others who are more familiar with your site or product, such as your internal teams, may be unable to. You’ll be able to identify quick wins for instant impact, as well as larger-scale changes or ideas for how to optimise your digital product in the future.

You may have launched a new patient support tool with a small test user group and a limited number of available features, for example. Usability testing at an early stage will help identify issues and allow you to optimise the patient experience before launching new features and onboarding new patient groups.

Mature/established product

User research can be used to inject new life into an established digital product or service. You may be struggling with low engagement, be preparing to expand to a new market, or planning a redesign/rebrand of your existing tool, for example. First-hand research with your end-users, combined with data and analytics, will give you all the insight you need to improve performance.

User research in this context could take many different forms, depending on your specific aims, as well as the timeframe and budget you’re working with.

If you’re looking for a fast and affordable way of providing insight about changes you could implement to improve engagement or usability, a UX audit would be a great solution. This involves a UX researcher evaluating your digital product against established usability principles to highlight issues and opportunities.

If you have more time available and are looking for a deeper level of insight, usability testing or user interviews would provide this.

Whatever stage your digital product is at, and whatever budget and timeframe you’re working to, user research can provide invaluable insight to help you move forward and make informed decisions. You’ll give yourself the best chance of meeting your objectives, whilst ensuring your users are always front of mind.

Although this article looks at just a few of the research methodologies that can help you at different stages, there are many alternative approaches that may be better suited to your specific needs. At Graphite, we’ll recommend a custom research plan that is completely tailored to you.

To learn more about our experience conducting user research and designing insight-driven digital products for leading healthcare and pharmaceutical organisations, get in touch.

Want more on user research?

6 minute read

Conducting compliant user research for your digital products in pharma

  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceutical
  • User research
Interview or consultation session User research Preview Website image gallery 1
8 minute read

Leave no one behind: Digital user research in rare disease

  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceutical
  • User research
6 minute read

Why pharma companies cannot afford to overlook user research across digital innovation

  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceutical
  • User research