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When I first joined the Products team as a UI/UX designer, there was no easy way to get feedback from real users. We were mostly assuming an end user’s expectations, and while it wasn’t right – it didn’t feel wrong.

Recently, we campaigned and recruited end users to help us with user studies. This allowed us to perform user interviews with users to better understand their thought process and expectations. From these studies, we quickly learned why it was so valuable to talk to users.

1 – Uncover real, previously unknown usability problems

Talking to users can easily uncover usability problems you didn’t know exist. There are always a handful of users who use a feature and while it may not match their expectation, they won’t question it and will assume it’s right, even though it may be a problem for many.

In a recent user study session, one problem we discovered was the confusion of the link functionality in our desktop app. We have two options: Copy Link, which copies a link to your clipboard with default options, and Share, which opens the dialog to create a link and change the options. Most users would initially use Copy Link and if they wanted to change any options, they would go into the Web UI into the share dialog. Now we are exploring different options to solve this.

2 – Validate your assumptions

When starting a design, you always assume what the user would expect before any user research to get started. For example, we assumed that most users did not notice a difference between the preview of a file in the Web UI and the preview of a file in a public link. When we were designing the My Links view, users believed both views were the same and could not explain why they were different. To solve this, we just opened the public link within the UI instead of opening a new tab.

3 – Save time and effort

When researching a problem, sometimes you end up finding a bigger problem that you need to solve for. For example, in our migration manager, we were planning on adding the functionality to modify folder permissions right before you start your migration. We had talked to different administrators of Egnyte, and while most of them expressed interest in modifying folder permissions, they would want to do it well before the migration even started. This was because modifying folder permissions required different department’s feedback, not just the administrator.

These are just a few reasons why it’s beneficial for designers to talk to their real-life users. Recruiting and talking to users takes time and effort, and may even feel impossible – but with the amount of feedback, it is well worth it in delivering the best version of your final product.

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