Indeed, we should listen to a quote from IDEO CEO Tim Brown, who says, “Empathy is at the core of the design. Unless we don’t understand what others see, realize, and experience, the design will remain a pointless task.”
UX research helps UX designers by grounding ideas in reality and increasing the odds of success.
Contingent upon resources, budget, and time, the deeper UX designers can dive into user experience research, the better.
At its heart, UX research is about getting a real understanding of users and how they think and behave–their motivations and needs. Normally, UX research does this through task analysis, observation techniques, and feedback methodologies.
In general, there are two major types of user research:
1) quantitative (statistics: can be calculated and computed; involves numbers and mathematical calculations).
2) qualitative (insights: concerned with descriptions, which can be examined but can’t be computed).
Quantitative research is used to quantify the problem by means of generating numerical data that can be modified into usable statistics. Some common data collection methods in this primary exploratory research include multiple types of surveys, such as online surveys, mobile surveys, paper surveys and kiosk surveys, website interceptors, online polls, longitudinal studies, and systematic observations.
This kind of research usually involves analytics, like Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a fragment of a suite of interlinked tools that support interpret data on site’s visitors, including Data Studio, which is a potent data-visualization tool, and Google Optimize, for executing and analyzing dynamic A/B testing.
Ideally, quantitative data from analytics platforms should be well-managed with qualitative insights drew from other UX testing methods, i.e., focus groups or usability testing.
Qualitative user research, on the other hand, set to conduct a direct assessment of behaviors based on observation. This form of research is more inclined towards developing a fair understanding of people’s perceptions and practices on their own terms. It may take in numerous different methods, including interviews, observations, ethnographic studies, moderated usability tests, and field studies.
If you’re confused about which type of user research you should implement, you can listen to an expert’s voice as Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group feels that in the case of UX research, it is better to focus insights (qualitative research) and that although quant has some benefits, qualitative research imparts complex information, so it’s easy to apprehend, and overall delivers convincing results less costly.
Often the most critical information isn’t quantifiable, and Nielsen went on to advise that “quantitative studies are usually too narrow to be fruitful and are oftentimes directly misleading.”
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted,” William Bruce Cameron said.
Design research isn’t a characteristic of the traditional science with ethnography being its closet equivalent– effective usability is contextual and relies on an extensive understanding of human behavior if it’s going to work.
Still, the types of user research you can or should apply will very much depend on the type of site, system, or app you are developing, your environment, and your timeline.
Here are some examples of the types of user research carried out at each phase of a project.
It’s a technique that enables users to assemble and categorize a site’s information into a logical structure that will commonly lead to navigation and the site’s information architecture. This helps make sure that the site structure matches the way users think.
A user-centered design research method allows the examination of users in their local environment, giving us a better awareness of the way users work.
First Click Testing:
It’s a method focused on navigation and can be executed on a functioning app, website, or a design to find out how easy it is to accomplish a given task.
This method of UX research involves a moderated discussion with a selected group of users, whose participation offers insights into users’ ideas, desires, and attitudes.
Heuristic Evaluation/Expert Review:
This method works through a group of usability experts who evaluates a website against a list of set guidelines.
One-on-one dialogs with users meant to understand how a particular user reacts. They allow us to get inclusive details about a user’s experiences, desires, and attitudes.
Another of the UX research methods, it is a design methodology that involves various designers pursuing similar effort concurrently yet separately, with the intent to combine the best aspects of each for the ultimate solution.
This method aims for the creation of a representative user based on user interviews and available data. Although the peculiar details of the persona may be fictional, the information used to form the user type isn’t.
An early model, sample, or release of a product built to inspect a concept or process, prototyping allows designers to explore ideas before implementation through creating a mock-up of the site. It can range from a paper mock-up to interactive HTML pages.
This method progresses by establishing a series of questions asked to different users of a website. Surveys help you know about the people who visit the site.
System Usability Scale (SUS):
It is a technology-independent ten-item scale that works for subjective evaluation of the usability.
Another of the UX research methods, Task Analysis, involves learning about user goals, including what users like to do on your website. It helps us understand the tasks users will perform on the site.
It aims to identify user problems and frustrations associated with a site by way of one-on-one sessions where a “real-life” user runs tasks on the site being reviewed.
This UX research method allows the provision of a description of how users consider a particular feature of a website. Use cases offer an in-depth look at how users interact with the site, including the steps users take to complete each task.
User research can be done at all stages or at any stage you’re currently in.
However, the Nielsen Norman Group advised that most of it be carried out during the beginning phases when it will have the leading impact. They also advised it’s a good idea to save some of your money for additional research that may become essential (or supportive) ahead in the project.
Below is given a diagram listing the recommended choices that can be executed as a project goes through the design phases. The process will vary, and probably encircle a few things on the list during each phase. The most widely used methods are highlighted in bold.
There always some motives behind carrying out user research, such as the following ones.
1) To form a product that is genuinely relevant to users
Unless you don’t have a real understanding of your end-users and their mental models, you’ve no way of rightly perceiving whether your design will be relevant.
A design that is not appropriate to the target audience will never be a success.
2) To create a product that is easy to understand and pleasurable to use
“If a user is having a problem, it’s our problem,” the co-founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, said.
This favorite quote from Jobs empathizes that user experience isn’t optimal; the chances are that people will skip to another product.
3) To get the return on investment (ROI) of user experience design validated and be able to confirm
i) Enhancement in performance and credibility
ii) Improved exposure and sales–increase in the customer base
iii) A decreased burden on resources–more effective work processes.
Apart from the reasons presented above, doing user research also offers insight into which features to prioritize, and in general, helps rise clarity around a project.
According to Mike Kuniaysky, user research is “the process of sensing the impact of a design on an audience.”
UX research has been central to the success of behemoths like Amazon and USAA; CEO of Airbnb Joe Gebbia is an enthusiastic advocate, affirming that its implementation helped turn things around for the company when it was struggling as an early startup.
Some of the outcomes generated through user research testify that enhancing the usability of a site or app will:
1) Improve conversion rates
2) Improve sign-ups
3) Improve NPS (net promoter score)
4) Improve customer satisfaction
5) Improve purchase rates
6) Improve trust in the brand
7) Reduce customer service calls.
Moreover, and aside from facilitating the overall user experience, the integration of UX research into the development procedure can:
1) Reduce development time
2) Minimize production costs
3) Disclosed worthy insights about the audience
4) Offer an in-depth sight into users’ mental models, goals, and pain points.
UX research is at the core of every exceptional user experience. As the name reflects, UX is subjective, i.e., the experience that an individual goes through while using a product. Hence, it is essential to understand the goals and needs of potential users, their tasks, and the context which is unique for each product.