How important is UX research?
UX research has evolved as its definitions and applications have become more commonplace in organizations of all sizes. A user experience researcher studies user interactions to help design products and services that put people first.
Still, UX can have different meanings depending on who you speak with. Understanding what is UX research might involve validation of prototypes and concepts for product teams, or testing designs and messaging for marketing teams before a launch. Thus, UX research is no longer a department-specific practice. The most successful organizations empower all teams to collect user and customer insights in order to make better business decisions.
How and when to conduct UX research
The big picture questions must be addressed before we dive into individual research methods or tactics for UX research. First, there are many types of UX research.
Quantitative versus qualitative research
When it comes to understanding your users, you may find yourself wondering if your UX research approach should be qualitative or quantitative. And it’s important to figure that out because the two types uncover very different insights.
You need to know both what’s happening and why your user experience is what it is. Having only quantitative data may prevent you from being able to gain key insights into the user experience. You won’t be able to determine whether your findings are representative of the larger population if you only do qualitative research.
Attitude vs. behavior research
It is important to understand that behavioral and attitude research are not synonymous. As with qualitative and quantitative research, however, they can be useful when compared together.
Focussing on what is UX research is – The aim of attitude research is to determine users’ preconceived attitudes or feelings toward an experience. An example of this would be to ask a user why they like or dislike a feature on your site before using it. Behavioral research, on the other hand, focuses on what the user does.
An additional parallel to the difference between quantitative and qualitative methods is that behavioral research will tell you what’s going on, whereas attitude research can help explain why it’s happening. Always remember that what users say varies from what they actually do.
Generative vs evaluation research
The goals of generative and evaluation research (sometimes referred to as evaluative research) are very different. In order to design a solution, you need generative research. Alternatively, evaluation research is used to evaluate an existing design (prototype, final, or in some other form).
Research methods for user experience
An immersive user experience must be a strategic initiative that drives a culture of user-centric thinking and design, from the product itself to marketing campaigns and messaging to brand design and social media. With that said, there are a lot of different user research techniques that help teams collect the insights needed specific for every role.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common methods now.
Remote usability testing
It might be obvious that remote usability testing is a great method for conducting UX research—if only by its name alone. This method of remote research uses an insight platform to record the screen (and voice, depending on the software you choose) of test participants as they interact with your product or experience in their natural environment—at home, in their office, or a specific location.
We can uncover and understand real people’s behaviors through usability testing, which is conducted by designers, product managers, and researchers alike. These assessments provide valuable insights into what they like and dislike, where they get stuck and confused, and where they can improve.
Diary studies are a form of longitudinal research (research that takes place over a long period with the same participants). In most cases, users log their activities, thoughts, and frustrations at regular intervals. Using it for repetitive, long, or unpredictable activities is a useful approach to capturing organic feedback.
Card sorting is a qualitative research method used to group, label, and describe information more effectively—based on feedback from customers or users. The process of card sorting involves creating a set of cards, sometimes literally, to represent a concept or item. Your users will then be able to group or categorize these cards in ways that make sense to them. It helps to evaluate information architecture when designing (or redesigning) a website’s navigation or the organization of content within it.
Surveys, with their expertly-phrased and well-positioned questions, allow you to empathize with your users in order to gain quantitative insights that are not visible to developers, managers, or marketers. It is helpful to listen to your customers in order to find new problems to solve or come up with new ideas, and collecting feedback through surveys is an active, receptive, and honest way to accomplish this.
Live interviews are a great way to collect qualitative insights. Through dynamic discussion, interviewees can observe verbal as well as non-verbal cues and ask open-ended questions to uncover those details that surveys and usability testing do not reveal. A UX interview is particularly useful for understanding complex feelings and experiences since it allows you to ask follow-up questions.
What is the best time to conduct UX research?
In the early stages of UX research, solving an existing problem was the most common goal. A company might look into how to solve a problem if it noticed that visitors were leaving at an unusually high rate on a particular page. Consequently, research wasn’t necessarily a part of development or done for discovery.
but that’s a thing of the past. The value teams are getting from fast human insights is driving UX research best practices to become embedded in everyday processes for teams across the business. It has evolved from just being a problem-solving mindset to also being a process of figuring out what problems to solve.
This is where researchers flex their strategic skills and companies are getting creative with user experience research to provide valuable insights. Consumers will tell you that there are numerous experiences that leave us underwhelmed, if not disappointed, that might not seem so obvious at the time.
When you visit an e-commerce site, find a product, and buy it, there isn’t much information that would prompt you to question whether the purchasing experience needs to be improved. There was a purchase, after all? A big shift in UX research is discovering what problems need to be solved in addition to solving the ones you know need attention.
One last word on UX research
UX, CX, usability, user testing. No matter what you call it, putting your customers at the center of your company’s mission and culture has become a competitive advantage that not only attracts new customers but keeps them coming back.
Having access to user experience research means not only are companies better prepared than ever before to create and improve great experiences for their customers, but also that customers will soon expect even better experiences.
Now it’s your turn
Now that we have gone into what UX research is and have shown the value of this process you can see the real value in UX research. Get in touch with the Stich Creative team to find out how we can support you on your UX UI journey.