UX research is critical to the success of your product, but most people don’t understand the full impact of conducting extensive (and enlightening) user research.
To create an effective user experience, you must first understand your target users, their needs, and their ways of thinking. Part of cultivating a user-centered design (UCD) entails the prioritization of UX research. It certainly isn’t enough to know who your target audience is - you must also understand the typical person who uses your product, their purpose for using the product, and their needs. Only then can you appropriately apply your design skills (or your design team’s efforts) to the development of a user-centered product.
And, of course, a thorough understanding of your users will only come from the information you collect as a result of performing UX research.
Fundamentally, UX research helps designers to:
- Develop and design the right things by discovering the pain points of users.
- Prevent wasting time, money, and other precious resources by developing the wrong solutions for users.
So, let’s look deeper into UX research and how it can assist in helping you build and grow your product.
What is UX Research and What are UX Research Methods?
UX research is an integral part of UX design; it consists of capturing the user’s experience with the product. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, UX research is “the systematic study of target users and their requirements, to add realistic contexts and insights to design processes.”1 They add that UX researchers tend to adopt various quantitative and qualitative methods to uncover problems and opportunities for more user-focused design. In doing so, they reveal extremely telling information about their test participants.
So, what are these methods, and how exactly do UX designers uncover problems, identify pain points, and collect user data?
How you perform UX research may depend on your product, industry, or online niche. However, UX research can typically be divided into two subsets or research techniques:
- Qualitative research, such as conducting user interviews, holding focus groups, administering online surveys, and more.
- Quantitative research, such as collecting data metrics from user tests.
Additionally, we can divide the type of observations that researching UX designers can make: attitudinal and behavioral.
How Understanding Your Users Will Make (or Break) the Success of Your Product
In short, you are more likely to build a better product if you understand your user and who you are building your product for. Blind designing isn’t as effective as thoroughly-researched and planned UX design. Just as you wouldn’t give a box of diapers to your childless coworker for his or her birthday, you don’t want to design a product if you don’t have the person who will be using it in mind throughout your entire process. So, an intuitive place to begin in UX research lies in identifying and understanding your users. Here, you’ll want to discover who your users are and identify the users that want or need to use your product.
Then, you must identify what these users want, need, think, feel, and how they digest both visual and written information in relation to your product.
According to The Nielsen Norman Group, the following UX Methods may be used throughout each development stage:2
- Contextual inquiries and diary studies. This method is used during the discovery stage of UX research to interview users and record their daily interactions with a design.
- Card sorting or customer journey maps. This method is used during the exploration phase to ensure that your design is structured in a logical and intuitive way, as well as to identify potential pitfalls.
- Usability testing and accessibility evaluations. Used during the testing phase, these methods test your design and ensure that it’s easy to use for anyone.
- Surveys and analytics. Finally, used during the listening state, you use surveys and analytical measurements to continually understand and track how users feel and interact with your product, as well as how to track website traffic and build reports.
The Nielsen Norman Group recommends that everyone starts their user experience research as early as possible in their projects.2 Also according to the Nielsen Norman Group, any time is the right time to start conducting user experience research. The best time to start conducting user experience research, however, is as early into a project as possible.2
What You Can Discover by Conducting UX Research
Through conducting UX research, you can discover some of the following (and more!):
- Barriers to adoption: User adoption is the key to success of your product. By conducting research, you can figure out the barriers your users face that prevent them from integrating your product into their daily life.
- Prioritization of features: By analyzing your user’s behavior and conducting other methods of UX research, you’ll be able to prioritize which features by importance.
- User patterns and their mental models: By conducting UX research, you’ll be able to pin down, measure, and observe user patterns and their mental models, and then use this information to better your product.
- Assumptions revisited and corrected: When you first begin the design process, you may make some assumptions about your audience. Through UX research, you can refine, revisit, and correct these assumptions you made about both your product and your target audience.
Why You Should Be Conducting User Research
Conducting user research, in short, will help you design a more intentional product for the user you’re targeting. Informed design will lead to the creation of a user experience that is relevant, intuitive, and easy to use for your target user.
Additionally, conducting user research will prevent you from wasting valuable time and money. By positioning the user at the center of your product design process and decisions (throughout the entire design process), you’ll be able to create an intentional product.
The Bottom Line
UX research is an integral part of product design. It brings with it a better chance that what is being planned and designed is going to work right the first time.
Remember, it isn’t only about the information you collect, but also the way you apply the information you receive. However, user experience research will provide you with the information necessary to create an informed blueprint for your creations. User research offers you a critical foundation for creating and implementing your design strategy. Ongoing user research will provide continual insights and allow for the ever-changing growth of your product.
If your business seeks innovative and effective UX design, contact the UX experts at WANDR today. We will unlock the user intelligence you need to achieve the full potential of your product’s design.