Usability expert Jared Spool published a remarkable article in 2011 entitled “Fast Path to a Great UX – Increased Exposure Hours”. In this article, he describes the research results of UIE, the world’s largest usability research organization of its kind when trying to answer the question of what teams can do to create great user experiences. The answer is: “Exposure Hours”, or in other words, the number of hours each team member spends watching people interacting directly with their own or a competitor’s product.
In his article, Jared Spool writes that each team member must be directly exposed to the actual users. Teams with a dedicated user research expert who watches users and then presents the results in the form of documents and videos don’t offer the same benefits. Being directly exposed to the actual users makes the crucial difference that actually leads to improvements. Incidentally, the best results would be provided by teams who do their research on an ongoing basis and whose members spend at least two hours every six weeks watching people use their product. And the more regularly teams do this, the better their results would be.
As different methods of exposing themselves to their users, the article mentions field studies in which teams visit their users in their natural environment and observe how they actually use their product, as well as usability and user testing, both moderated and unmoderated. It also describes how painful it is to watch somebody having trouble using your product and how much more painful it is to have to watch the next person a few weeks later still having the same problem.
We can actually confirm this from our experience because we feel the same way when we look at the user tests of our own products or solutions together. One thing is for sure above anything else, and it’s probably why watching user tests together is so effective: The more often you and your team observe the same problems, the more frustrated you become and the more important it becomes for you to resolve those problems – and the happier you’ll all be once you’ve solved those problems.