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During the development of software, websites, or applications, companies often combine the roles of UX designer and UX researcher.
Separating these roles offers numerous advantages. Through proper UX research methods, it becomes easier to identify and understand the motivations of the target audience.
Researchers specialize in user interface testing and market analysis to aid UX designers with their work.
Instead of requiring designers to handle UX research, explore the benefits of separating UX research methods and usability testing.
What's the difference between UX Research and Design?
UX refers to the user experience of an application. UX designers are responsible for developing a customer-friendly product.
To create a customer-friendly product, it helps to understand customers!
UX research is the initial stage of development for a product or application. Before the design stage, we need to understand who we are designing for.
The initial research uncovers the motivations of customers. The problem is that designers rarely have the time or resources to complete user research on their own.
Larger companies often employ a separate UX research team (like us!). As with any project, allowing people to focus on the areas where they excel tends to lead to better results.
The UX designer takes the insights obtained by the UX researcher to improve the design of the product.
Overview of UX Methods for Design
UX design encompasses the user interface (UI). With UI development, designers strive to improve the presentation. With UX development, designers work to improve the overall user experience. This includes the UI and everything that comes before it, including:
- Information architecture
- Interaction design
Information architecture addresses the needs of the business and the information that the application provides to users. Interaction design focuses more on user interactions such as the types of elements or features.
After developing the architecture, designers begin work on the usability of the product or application. The goal is to create a user-friendly interface that takes users to the information they require without any difficulties.
Designers then create wireframes as a sample of the application. These steps require knowledge of the end-user, which is why UX research is essential.
Overview of UX Research Methods
To develop a successful product, businesses should employ a variety of UX research methods. The most common user research methods include:
- Market research
- Customer surveys
- Feedback on existing products
- Usability testing and studies
- Final user interface testing
The first user research methods typically include market research and customer feedback. Researchers can use readily available market statistics and study feedback from customer surveys or reviews to begin shaping their UX research recommendations.
Analyzing the market and customer preferences provide initial insight. However, the UX methods for evaluating the user experience should continue throughout the development process.
After developing the architecture based on the initial UX research, usability testing helps designers uncover potential errors or issues that may hurt the overall user experience.
Usability testing can involve in-house testers or public testers. Allowing the public to interact with the application during this development stage offers more value. Before the designers finalize any of the features or design elements, they receive real-time feedback from actual customers.
Researchers often compile the feedback into a usability study. Designers then have additional recommendations for enhancing the overall quality of the product.
Designers complete the visual design of the product. Before launching the product, we typically recommend doing another round of user interface testing. It is a lower product and capital risk to identify any issues that may impact the user experience before it goes into development.
Advantages of Separating UX Research and UX Design
Traditionally, a UX designer works with other departments during the planning stage to create a framework that addresses the needs of the target demographic.
UX designers may also perform their own UX research. However, designers have a lot of details to work with. Besides understanding the needs of customers, they need to program the interface, test for errors and perform dozens of other tasks.
Adding UX research to the role of the UX designer creates a less efficient process. Designers end up with more on their plates, increasing the risk of mistakes and setbacks. This of course creates product risk which impacts capital risk.
In addition to reducing the burden on UX designers, separating UX research offers the following benefits:
- Increase the relevancy of the design
- Create a better user experience
- Understand the ROI of UX design
Here is a closer look at the top reasons to focus more on user research methods.
Usability Testing Increases Relevancy
Thorough user research tends to increase the relevancy of the user experience. Designers can focus on adding elements or features that users find most relevant to their needs.
Adding irrelevant features detract from the user experience. It makes navigation more difficult and wastes time and resources.
Compared to other user research methods, customer surveys and feedback offer the most insight for creating relevant designs. These methods are best used at the beginning of the project to set the overall direction and scope.
Reviewing feedback from previous projects also aids with this process. Instead of repeating the same mistakes, your designers can find ways to deliver a product that connects with your potential customers.
UX Research Helps Create a Better Experience
The primary reason to utilize user research methods is to design better UX. Designers use the research to deliver a more pleasurable experience for users. Usability testing is a major part of this process.
Usability research should include testing to obtain honest, direct feedback from users. This remains one of the best UX methods for discovering the true motivations of your core audience.
Look for feedback related to the design and interface. Use the feedback to validate design choices or improve potential flaws.
This is also a method that designers and researchers should use throughout the development process. Continually test changes or variations to remain on track. For example, A/B split testing with real users allows designers to determine which variation works best.
UX Research Methods Help Analyze the ROI
In addition to delivering a better user experience, the usability study helps analyze return on investment (ROI).
Usability research helps account for changes in the design that provide positive results. This research allows designers and researchers to analyze the value of their efforts.
For example, user research may uncover that design updates helped increase sales or bring in more customers. Connecting the increases with the design changes gives executives and shareholders a better understanding of the ROI of usability research.
To measure the ROI of UX research, implement analytics, and track changes that occur after redesigning elements of the project.
Last Thoughts on UX Research in the Design Process
Smaller businesses often overlook UX research during the development of products, software, and applications. Even without a dedicated UX research team, every design process should include the latest UX methods and usability research techniques.
Through UX research, we uncover valuable insight into the motivations of our target audience. The key UX methods to include are the initial market research and usability research through user interface testing.
Based on usability testing, researchers compile a usability study. Designers use the usability study as a roadmap for creating a better user experience.
Instead of requiring UX designers to handle user research, consider a dedicated UX research team.