Have you ever wondered why after putting so much effort into the design, it proves not to bring the feedback you’ve been expecting? Human behavior is complex and very difficult to predict. And your design team aren’t prophets who can guess how successful their design will be among users. For this reason, design research is a crucial part of the design process. It allows you to figure out what your customers want and how you can satisfy their needs.
So, let’s try to get some insights on how to conduct the proper UX research and discover how to choose from various types of research methodology.
UX research, an integral part of the design development process, helps you understand and meet the needs of your customers.
Design research is oriented toward making your design user-friendly. This is the key point as the user is a central part of the user experience research process. Opposite to the market research, which is focused on the companies’ needs, the design research is customer-oriented and strives for a better user experience. The UX design can be called more empathetic. As you try to understand your customers’ behavior and how you can improve their experience with your product.
As mentioned before, your design team can create a design that’s striking visually. But they cannot predict exactly how users will interact with it or whether they’ll find it functional. Therefore, user research is crucial; it allows you to build your design with customers in mind and not based on assumptions.
Moreover, the product of design research is the information about what your users expect from your product design. Which can help you to set the right priorities and not disperse your attention on many unimportant goals. With UX research tools, you can focus on making your design more functional and on building the strategy for interaction with your customers.
A design based on user research results in a more satisfied customer. This is evident and brings benefits to both sides. The happier users are with your product design, the more it is probable that they will turn into customers.
Design research methods can vary depending on the approach you choose. Still, they are mainly centered around behavioral and attitudinal factors, and the data collected during the research is either quantitative or qualitative.
Market research is mostly about quantitative data, which is more focused on the facts and presumes that reality is fixed and measurable. So, the main data that is used for this research are numbers and statistics. In terms of UX design, this data can be the number of visits your website gets, the interaction with its certain functions, etc.
For design research, qualitative research design data is mainly used. It’s considered more “human” as you analyze human behavior. In this case, data is gathered through interviews and participant observation. You can discover why the user chose not to click a particular button or, more precisely, why they didn’t find your design functional.
User research is not a short-term process and can include many stages. Depending on the problem you need to solve and the resources you have. Plus, you need to repeat this process regularly in order to always have a piece of up-to-date information about user experience. There are various ways to build your research design for UX research, which include:
When creating a new design or even making some changes to the existing one, you need to gather new data, the knowledge you don’t possess yet, and that you can’t obtain in any other way besides conducting your own research. This type of research is essential to understanding who your users are and what the perfect design for them should look like. Also, besides new data, you may get validation for your existing ideas and assumptions. The main aim of the primary research is to find the answers that are crucial for the successful implementation of your project. The method for collecting data used in this type of research design is getting information directly from the source, meaning your customer. This user research process includes interviews, surveys, focus groups, usability sessions.
This takes the primary research further. With the help of already existing data, meaning the internet, books, articles, etc. you confirm your findings made during your own research. This type of research design requires less time and resources. But it is better to combine it with the primary one to create a solid base for your UX design solutions.
This type is used to evaluate a certain problem in order to assess whether your design is user-friendly. Or how people will interact with it based on their needs and desires. In detail, evaluative research gives you insights about effective goal achievement in terms of finance, impact, and outcome (summative evaluation) or can confirm the already tested idea by monitoring its success (formative evaluation).
This research design type takes the data and insights you have obtained from your previous research and uses it to decide which problem you want to solve. This is the stage when you create solutions or opportunities for your design, so you have to know already what your users want and need. Therefore, at this point, you observe your potential customers in the natural environment and gather information through contextual interviews, focus groups, and data mining.
There are various types of research methodology that you can use to get data for your user research. Let’s take a look at the main ones.
This is an essential part of the design research when you get to know your users, their needs, and what they expect from your design. It is a great way to start a conversation and to look deeper into a particular problem that you face when building your design.
The participants can be your customers, business owners, or even your teammates. Places, where you can conduct user research interviews, can vary from your research “labs” to the spots where your product will be actually used like retail stores, airports, etc., or even via phones and video calls.
When you want to do research on how user-friendly your design will be. You certainly will need to see in action how your customers interact with your product prototype. During the usability testing, the design is evaluated by the representative from the target audience – the participant tries to interact with the product, and you record the outcome of their attempts.
Usability tests can be run when you’re simply building your design. Or when the analytics on the existing product shows the usability problem. During this process, the participant shares their thoughts when they interact with your design, and the researcher asks a follow-up question to make the evaluation more complete. This will help you assess whether your design is working like it’s supposed to and find the areas for improvement.
This UX research method doesn’t always require a user’s opinion as it is set to test whether the design corresponds with the existing list of design principles (heuristics). These principles include rules, standards, and best practices that proved to be effective in the past. At this stage, you try to find usability issues that can spoil the user’s experience with your product.
The process usually involves a small group of experts who are familiar with the needs of target users. They evaluate the design and suggest how you can improve the design. Or solve a certain piece of it that doesn’t comply with the principles mentioned above. This is a crucial part of design research for the design team in particular as they will be able to find the weak spots of their design, and it can be the initial stage before UX interviews, usability tests, etc.
A/B test is another great way to test users’ behavior and learn more about which actions they’re likely to take in a certain situation. The users are asked to choose between two design options. Which can be certain elements like styles of content, buttons, home page design, etc. For this reason, the A/B test is a great UX research tool for designers that helps them decide which design option to choose.
This type of user research method is also relevant when you want to make changes to the already existing design. And aren’t sure whether they will be for the best, or you should keep everything without modifications. What is more, you test which option is better for achieving the goal you set for your design?
This UX research method works best when your research involves a large and diverse group. Plus, it allows you to spend less time and resources. For your design research, you can create a survey with Google Docs and send it via email. However, this method can be less effective as the researcher won’t be able to interrupt with their own questions. And due to the usual survey anonymity, you can’t get the full information about the user, which might be needed.
Collecting all the data you need for your design development requires a great amount of work. But your user research doesn’t end there. After you have the information from interviews, surveys, usability tests, etc. you’ll need to follow these further steps:
The main goal of the design research is to start a conversation with your users and actually listen to them. You might already have your assumptions, and your design team can be pros in the design process. But only your customers have the answers and solutions to your issues. As they are the ones who will use your product at the end of the day. For this reason, UX research is a great way to get to know your users better. To understand their needs and desires. Believe us, this is a win-win as while your clients will enjoy your user-friendly design. You will spend less on the design process and become more respected on the market.
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