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User Research Bias: How It Hurts Your App and What You Can Do About It

4 min read
Eleanor Hecks

Written by Eleanor Hecks

28 September, 2021

Your hypothesis of how an app should work for your audience may not be correct if you allow user research bias to enter into play. Research makes a difference in the features you add to your design and how you deliver new content. You must forget all the assumptions you have about your customers and look only at the data and how it converts into a usable, customer-centered app.

According to Statista, approximately 34,300 new apps are released each month. Although the number varies, businesses face a lot of competition from other developers. How can you make your app stand out? Meet the needs of your target audience.

How Does User Research Bias Hurt Your App?

There are numerous ways user research bias hurts your app. For example, if you gather feedback from your customers but some of them have preferences others don’t, you may suffer from bias issues.

Why should you care if your app doesn’t meet the needs of each buyer persona? After all, you will likely match the expectations of some of your users. The problem is, your conversion rate might suffer without a clear focus on what all your customers want.

Some of the best ways to improve your conversion rates include looking carefully at your average order size and the number of deals users take advantage of.

Steps to Overcome Bias in Design

There are different types of bias in app design. For example, you might run into an issue where users just agree with whatever you say. Exclusively positive feedback isn’t very helpful to ensuring your app has longevity as you won’t know what problems to fix.

Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome different types of bias in app design. Taking these steps requires some work, but it will pay off in the long run and increase your number of users.

1. Know Your Personal Blind Spots

Every person on the planet has some personal biases. Perhaps your Aunt Edna always pinched your arm at holiday dinners. Edna wore purple hats, so now you see anyone with a purple hat as a bit mean.

Some personal blind spots are more obvious than others. They tie into the way we were raised, the society around us, and even things we’ve read and experienced. It’s impossible to identify every bias, but be aware of your main ones and how they might impact your design.

For example, if you love games where the user takes path A or path B for different outcomes, you might be inclined to add options to your app when it doesn’t need alternatives.

2. Ask for Feedback

Gather feedback from multiple sources. As mentioned before, there are different types of biases, including clustering, polarization, framing and hindsight. The best way to overcome discrimination in apps is to gather feedback from as many people as possible.

Multiple viewpoints bring up issues you otherwise might not see. Gather feedback from your regulars as well as new customers. Ask some beta testers to tell you what doesn’t work well. Bring in other designers for a look at how your interface works and what needs to be changed.

3. Seek Disagreement

Do you have a co-worker who is particularly hard to get along with? Find someone who dislikes almost everything you design and isn’t afraid to tell you.

Now, ask that person why they don’t like your work and how they’d do it differently. It might be hard to hear some of their criticism, especially if they’re a negative person. However, you can learn a lot by digging into their reasons and uncovering your own biases and assumptions.

4. Consider Accessibility

Ensuring your app meets the needs of everyone ensures you aren’t biased in your design. The last thing you want is to make something that’s challenging for people to use.

You’ll find a complete list of design standards on the Americans with Disabilities Act site you can follow to ensure your app is ready and able to be used by everyone. 

5. Create Scenarios

Spend time looking at the worst-case scenario for your app. How might some people be left out? Are you hitting the right notes for both Android and iOS users?

Create potential scenarios for your buyer personas. How does the app fail? If you fix it in a certain way, who does the change affect the most?

6. Embrace Diverse Interactions

Everyone has racial, cultural, socioeconomic and other biases. By engaging with people from all types of backgrounds, you’ll ensure you see things from a different perspective.

Ask others for their opinions of your app. Give out free memberships and let people try it out, telling you what works for them and what doesn’t. Be open to new ideas you might not have considered on your own.

Does User Research Bias Really Hurt Your App?

App developers can make research results turn out any way they’d like by considering only certain studies. If you want to find success with a broad scope of people, you must embrace more diversity in fact-finding as it is the basis for your entire app.

Using multiple researchers is a good start, but make sure they come from different backgrounds. Look for ways to implement new ideas and test everything. You don’t have to please everyone, but you must meet the needs of your entire audience.

Eleanor Hecks

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