Thanks Hammer :), those are two very good questions!
So far, different methods of learning about the users have included:
- Digital strategy and opportunity workshops
- Going out to the user's environments where we then ask questions and get into the nitty gritty process that the people follow
- Researching market and similar options that are already available
- User testing for concepts, ideas and sketches
- Quantitative testing
We have quite a variable client base as we have some product offerings, as well as offering UX, Visual, and Development help for businesses who would like support either creating new products, or refreshing those that they already have. So more in-house end to end offerings.
We always have a few surprises, one example of this was finding that we had a client need in New Zealand, but that there was absolutely no need for this product in America because of the differences in business and economy.
Generally testing is always done to test assumptions and ideas etc. For instance when showing a visual representation of data, do the people using it actually understand and get meaningful information out of it. What information needs to be displayed when you have graphs, what do the users actually care about seeing, and what context do people view the information in.
Hope this gives some helpful insights into how we work :).