Without Data, Decision-Making Is Risky Business
Overview: Learn why data is critical to making pivotal decisions for products and your business, from the perspective of a data-focused UX pro.
“Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” This saying, espoused by Pragmatic Marketing, may seem cheeky, but it’s worth taking to heart.
As mainframe developers, development leads, architects, recall a time when you might have developed something based on someone’s opinion. Contrast that with a time when you’ve made development decisions based on data: user/market research, user-tested prototypes, etc. How did each turn out? Whether designing or developing applications, buying a car or choosing a new place to live…
…data is critical to informing our decision-making.
It’s All About the Data
At Compuware, we have a saying: “It’s all about the data.” As a UX designer, this saying resonates with me. I work with product and development teams where we employ an array of methods to help us get the critical data needed to make design decisions. Towards that end, we ask ourselves, “What is the cheapest thing we can do or create now to learn what the next important thing to build is?”
Perhaps that cheapest thing is a survey; user interviews; testing a prototype; analyzing usage data from zAdviser; or a usability test. What we learn from this data 1) gives us confidence that we’re creating an experience to nail the job for our users and, ultimately, 2) helps our customers achieve their business objectives.
This is not to say there won’t be times when you need to make on-the-spot decisions. They’re inevitable. We make countless decisions every minute, every hour, every day. In many cases, we rely on business goals, principles and other systems and frameworks or our best judgement to inform these decisions. Risks are constantly weighed. We ask ourselves:
- What impact will my decision have?
- What are the consequences if we get it wrong?
- Would it be costly to reverse the decision?
And if the risk is substantial, having the data we need is golden. There have been cases at Compuware where data has helped us make pivotal decisions to our products and business.
Which Quality Gate? Integrating with SonarQube
Around the time we burned the boats and transformed from a waterfall to an agile company, we were designing a new product feature that we internally called Quality Gate. The purpose of Quality Gate was to help development teams make decisions about the health of an application before it proceeded to the next stage of the development cycle. It was…a gate.
This was an important idea to test before bringing it to market. And we did. We tested prototypes with customers and it was well-received. That is, until one customer said, “I won’t use it.” He said he wanted his mainframe teams to use the same tool the distributed team was using: SonarQube.
We went back to the drawing board and back to the customers that had already given positive feedback on our proprietary Quality Gate idea. We found that their distributed teams also used SonarQube and warmed to the idea of using common tools across platforms.
So, Compuware pivoted. Instead of building something new, we partnered with Sonar and now have a successful integration between Topaz and SonarQube and SonarLint. Without the data gathered from prototype reviews with customers, our Topaz product may have taken a much different path.
Take a Page from Design
If you find yourself relying on someone’s gut feeling or opinion to make important decisions, consider taking a page from UX research and gather some data to boost your confidence that you’re making the right decision for your application, your business and your customers.