How to conduct an effective UX research

User experience research is one of the most important aspects of any business. By understanding your customers and their needs, you can create a website, product, or service that exceeds their expectations.

Need help figuring out where to start with user experience research? You're in the right place! This blog post will teach you everything you need to know about user experience research. We'll cover what it is, why it's important and how to conduct your research. Plus, we'll discuss who should be involved in the process and the benefits of user experience research.

By the end of this post, you'll have a thorough understanding of user experience research as well as common UX research techniques. Simply put, you'll have all the information you need to get started and develop a research strategy. If you would like to conduct user experience research explicitly tailored to your business goals, it's a good idea to work with the right experts. With our help, you will be able to understand your target users and choose the right direction for your product development process. To learn more, check out our UX Research Services!

Read on to learn everything you need to know about user experience research!

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

What is UX research?

Why is UX research important?

The goals & benefits of UX research

Who is involved in the UX research process?

How to conduct UX research

Define your goals and create a research plan

Choose your research methods

Common UX research methods

Assemble your findings

Conclusion

What is UX research?

User experience research is a process that involves understanding what users need and want in order to enhance your product and better meet their needs. This can involve conducting user interviews, analyzing user feedback, and observing user behavior to identify insights about the user experience. This information is then used to enhance your product design process.

Why is UX research important?

There are many reasons why UX research is essential, but perhaps the most significant one is that it allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your users' needs and behaviors. Conducting user experience research helps to remove the guesswork and unfounded assumptions from your product design process. This, in turn, can help you build more successful products that meet users' expectations and fulfill your business needs.

A well-conducted UX research helps to ensure that your products are both functional and user-friendly, which can help drive engagement and increase overall satisfaction with your product or service.

The goals & benefits of UX research

  • You can save time by focusing development efforts on the most critical features. The insights that can be gathered from UX research help in gaining a clear vision of what needs to be developed. Thus you don't have to waste time creating useless features.
  • You can avoid costly mistakes or errors by identifying and addressing issues in the design research phase instead of the development process when they become too costly or difficult to remedy.
  • You can create a meaningful product. By observing user interaction and human behavior, you can recognize what steps need to be taken in order to create a user centered design of your product. This way, you can reduce customer churn in the future by providing the users with a solution that actually works for them.

Who is involved in the UX research process?

Before you actually start the process of UX research, it's important to discuss its purpose and the goals you want to achieve. In order to do that, you will need to hear the perspective of different team members working on the project. By having a team meeting, you can explore the concept from various angles, tone down any opinions that might clash, and establish a plan for collaboration and the responsibilities of each member. So who should be involved in this process?

Your role as the founder

As the founder of your business venture, your role is to define clear goals of UX research and bring in the domain knowledge from your field. Working with the right crew, you can identify the problems and opportunities that lie ahead as well as formulate a hypothesis that needs to be validated through the research. Together with your team, you can brainstorm the answer to those variables and create a research plan.

UX designer

The primary role of the UX designer is to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and think of ways their needs can be met. As the UX designer, you focus on the quality of the experience and what can increase its value. Their goal is to find out how the users interact with the product and what can be improved to make it more intuitive. Their responsibilities include not only the design side of the product but also every detail that makes up the user experience, such as the placement and wording of the copy or the user journey.

Product Owner

Product Owners work closely with UX designers to create user stories and acceptance criteria for backlog grooming. However, the role of the PO is primarily focused on the business objectives and how they can be achieved within the set budget. They are responsible for prioritizing needs, managing the product backlog, and sharing the product's vision with stakeholders.

How to conduct UX research

Define your goals and create a research plan

The first step of effective UX research should be defining concrete goals. What's the point of the research if you can't extract the right information from it? This is why you need to take some time to understand what you want to achieve with it. In order to do that, you can gather your team members and answer the following questions:

  • What problem do you want to solve with your product?
  • What do you know and don't know about this problem?
  • How are others solving this problem?
  • What assumptions need to be checked?
  • What questions are you trying to answer?
  • What should the research outputs be?

By answering the questions listed above, you are not only able to understand your "why" but also develop a research plan and determine the right UX research methods.

 

Goal Question
To find out the user's pain points and the problems they are facing.

What difficulties does the user come across when they are trying to accomplish a goal?

To understand the user experience of an application.

How does the user feel when using this application?
To understand how to improve the process of doing something for the user. What is the user’s current way of achieving their goal?
To validate an idea for a feature. Does the user understand how the feature works and is it useful for them?
To understand the habits and behavior of the users. What information are the users used to seeing and where do they look for it?
To align business goals with user needs. What can be done to improve conversion rates?

Choose your research methods

Once you have decided on the goals that need to be attained and developed your research plan, it is time to pick out the appropriate UX research methods you will use. The techniques you use will depend on the amount of time that you have, your budget, and the questions that need to be answered. Using multiple research methods will be most beneficial as it can provide you with data from different angles and fill in any knowledge gaps.

Before we discuss the most common research methods, we will address the 3 research dimensions that the methods are mapped across.

Attitudinal & behavioral research

This refers to the distinction between what people say and what they actually do, which often is very different. Attitudinal research considers the users' emotions and way of thinking. An example of the method used for this purpose can be card sorting. On the other hand, behavioral research lets you observe and track the behavior of the users. Eye tracking is an excellent example of a source that can be used to understand the behavior of users.

Quantitative & qualitative research

The difference between quantitative and qualitative research methods is that quantitative research results in receiving numerical data, and qualitative user research gives us a sense of what motivates our users. Quantitative research uses tools such as surveys and lets us identify patterns in things like conversions or click-through rates and make predictions based on this data. Qualitative methods focus on understanding our users' thoughts and attitudes and can be obtained through techniques like focus groups. Qualitative and quantitative methods of user testing serve different purposes, but they are regarded as complementary user research methods, and both are extremely helpful in gathering user insights.

Context of use

Context of use allows us to focus on when, why, and how the users are performing a task or using your product. It describes the environment, conditions, and constraints associated with the use of a specific product or service in an average day situation. A good way to collect this information is through usability tests or prototyping sessions.

 

UX research methods

Common UX research methods

Usability testing

Usability testing, also known as user testing, is a method that allows you to evaluate your product by observing how potential users interact with it. During the test, research participants are asked to complete a set of tasks while you observe their reactions and take notes. The main purpose of user testing is to identify usability problems and determine if your design is intuitive enough. When it comes to the types of tests, we can distinguish between two which are:

  • Moderated tests - a moderator has to be present to get the user back on track if they misunderstood something during the session.
  • Unmoderated tests - in this case, the participants have to do everything independently and don't receive any clarification when answering questions or solving tasks.

An example of a tool you can use for this method is Usertesting.com which allows you to perform both unmoderated and moderated usability tests.

Surveys

Surveys allow you to accumulate a large amount of data about a particular group in a short amount of time. They include questions about opinions, preferences, and attitudes toward a subject. One of the downsides of this research method is that it doesn't allow you to have direct contact with the participant to explain any misconceptions they might have. A good survey includes feedback questions as well as follow-up and open-ended ones. Avoid using leading questions that prompt the user to respond in a biased way. You can create a survey that can be emailed to your target group by using tools like Google Forms.

A useful tool that can help with filtering out participants who would not be appropriate for your UX research study is a screener survey. This type of survey comprises a few questions that give you more information regarding the respondent's characteristics. Simply put, a screener survey lets you "capture" your intended audience, so you can collect user feedback that is relevant to your needs.

Focus groups

This research method involves bringing together a group of people who answer questions and have open discussions regarding their experience and opinions on a design and the provided solutions. These moderated sessions last about 2 hours and can be carried out in both a face-to-face setting and remotely. Focus groups should consist of 6 to 9 participants and should be carefully selected to ensure they fit the definition of your target user and will provide good feedback. To achieve the desired results from using this method, it is crucial to plan beforehand. Some of the things you need to consider to be well prepared are:

  • Clear and open-ended questions on the appropriate subject
  • A script with 3-5 topics that will be used for discussion
  • A schedule that will keep you on track and organized
  • Your team - consisting of a moderator, a note-taker, and a researcher who will lead the discussion

User interviews

User interviews are one of the UX research methods which allow you to discover the needed information through conversation with the users. The process involves asking a single user multiple questions regarding a topic of interest while noting or recording the answers. This method allows us to discover the habits and user behaviors, the challenges they encounter, or how they use a particular product. User interviews are usually one-on-one sessions and take from around 30 minutes to an hour. In order to get the most out of this technique, it is vital to ask the right questions. Avoid terms that the participant might not be familiar with (professional terms such as "user flow" might sound confusing) and encourage them to speak freely and feel comfortable. When selecting questions, bear in mind that closed-ended questions won't provide you with many insights, so it's best to go for open-ended ones.

Card sorting

In this UX research method, users sort and group cards in a way that makes the most sense to them. This method allows researchers to assess the information architecture and ensure that the structure is suited to the users' preference. You can use physical post-it notes to do this or online digital tools such as Miro. Closed card sorts provide the user with a set of terms and the names of the categories they should be divided between. In the case of open card sorts, users have to come up with the names of the categories based on what they think is the most appropriate.

Assemble your findings

After completing your UX research, it's time to get into the nitty-gritty and analyze your results. By the end of conducting UX research, you will have gathered lots of data that should be investigated and turned into valuable insights. Gathering information is one thing, but decoding it and communicating it effectively is another. Therefore, the next step that should be taken is to analyze data and prioritize your findings. You need to create a list of your target users' problems, needs, and goals and arrange them in the correct order of priority. This is also the moment where you go back to the very beginning of your journey and decide if the goals you set in the research plan have been achieved. Did you get the answers to your questions? Take this chance to reflect on the UX research methods that you chose and whether they worked for you. Make sure that your UX research findings are accessible to your team, and keep everyone informed of your process. Apart from UX analysis reports, you can structure your data using affinity diagrams as well as create user personas and user stories.

Affinity diagrams

Quantitative data can be expressed in the form of numbers and statistics. But, when it comes to qualitative data, it can be challenging to translate it into an actionable plan. This is where you can make use of an affinity diagram, which is a tool used for organizing data and ideas into groups of similar items.

This tool uses thematic analysis to make sense of observations and discoveries by sorting them according to different themes. The themes you can use to digest your UX research data are, for example:

  • Frequently used words or terms
  • Reactions or frustrations regarding various aspects
  • Ideas for improvement

The way you can create an affinity diagram is by gathering all of your key findings and checking if there are any patterns. Next, group all of your notes by those patterns or themes and create a statement that you concluded from each of those groups.

 

Affinity diagram

User personas

User personas are fictional characters that you create based on the qualitative insights of your UX research. It includes the needs, goals, and observed behavior patterns of your potential user. In a nutshell, user personas represent your ideal client. Creating personas allows you to design your solution in a user-centric approach, making it more likely for your product to resonate with your prospects.

User stories

A user story is a short, goal-oriented statement that is written from the perspective of the user. The format of such a sentence is as follows:

“As a [user], I want [action] so that [purpose].”

These short statements frame your users' problems and will be useful for deciding how you will address those issues. Creating user stories is essential during the discovery phase of a project, as it will point you in the right direction when you begin the development process. That being said, user stories should be created regularly throughout the development and even after the product launch.

Conclusion

UX research will help you create a product that serves your business needs and is optimal for your target audience. By understanding your users’ needs, wants, and pain points, you will be able to design a solution that they will love. And as a result, you will create a loyal customer base that will stick with your product through thick and thin.

It's not easy to conduct research, but it is definitely worth the hassle as it will set the stage for the product development process. UX research helps fight the urge to design the product for ourselves or the stakeholders and instead shines the spotlight on the user. Comprehensive UX research builds a solid foundation for your product, making it easier to adapt and grow as your business develops. At Pragmatic Coders, we've had the privilege of working on many incredible projects with our clients, and we know what it takes to conduct effective UX research that brings the desired results. Boost your chances of success by collaborating with our experienced professionals! For more information, check out our UX Research Services!

 

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