What Is UX Research and Why Is It Important?
Websites and applications are business tools that are able to generate great profits for businesses. Business owners, executives, and directors of all sorts actively participate in the development of digital products because they want to be proud of the results. This approach has a serious drawback, though; you forget who the target audience of your product is. Your potential clients need to like it, and they might have a very different opinion from yours. How do you know for sure what the users are going to adore? Professional UX/UI design agencies apply UX research for every digital project. In this post, you will discover what it is and why no website or app can go without it.
What Is UX Research?
User experience research is a thorough study of target user pains, desires, and needs. It allows you to make a portrait of a potential client and understand what type of product they are most likely to use to achieve their goals. A professional UX design firm would recommend conducting research at any stage of the project and as often as necessary.
The Methods of UX Research
There are various techniques that UX/UI researchers use to achieve results. Like with any other kind of research, you can divide them into two large groups:
Qualitative methods of UX/UI research help you to determine the motivation and needs of the users. Interviews, field experiments, and surveys allow you to get an understanding of what people want and why they do the things they do. Open questions help a lot with this aspect of the research. This way you allow the participant to share information without pushing them in any direction. Usually, at this stage of the research, you’ll get surprised by how differently regular users view your product.
Another way to conduct qualitative UX/UI research is usability testing. This way you can watch how users interact with the product and collect their opinions in real-time. This type of research demands experience and practice, but it should be conducted before any release.
Here you use structured data gathering methods. If this is a survey, you collect more precise information and often collect numerical data. For example, “How many times per day do you use your phone?” This information can be used to discover hidden patterns and similarities in the routines of a large group of people. This type of research is more statistically reliable. However, UX research cannot simply go with either one or another and is a combination of various methods.
There is another way to classify user experience methods:
- Attitudinal – This means that you listen to and assess what people tell you about their experience. It can happen in interviews, for instance.
- Behavioral – This is an observational study. You collect information about how users interact with the digital product by observing their behavior.
Only by combining all of these methods will you manage to get a comprehensive perspective of how users will perceive what you have to offer.
Breaking Down UX Research Methods
It is important to use UX research methods in every stage of a project. These can be broken down into four areas.
This stage determines what is relevant to users. It can include methods like contextual inquiries, in which suitable users are interviewed in their environments to see how they perform a task or answer a question. Another technique is diary studies, where users record their daily interactions.
To examine how to address all users’ needs, you can use methods like card sorting and customer journey maps. The former involves writing words or phrases on cards and asking participants to organize them in the most logical way. That helps you to ascertain that your design is structured appropriately. The latter can be used to expose potential problems and critical moments.
To evaluate designs and ensure they are easy to use, you can employ usability testing methods. And to test your design to make sure it is accessible to all, you can use accessibility evaluations.
If you do not listen to the feedback you gain from your user research, the exercises will have been pointless. During the listening phase, you can put any problems into perspective, find any new issues, and notice trends. You can use surveys to track how users feel about your design, and analytics to discover more detailed data.
Which exact methods you use are up to you, as some may be more relevant to your project than others, and each has advantages and disadvantages. For example, card sorting is an inexpensive and easy method, but it can be time-consuming when you come to the analysis stage. It could not provide you with in-depth contextual meaning as well. Your resource constraints will also affect how much and which type of UX research you perform.
Why Is UX Research Necessary?
UX research is indispensable if you want your project to succeed. And there are a couple of reasons for this:
- Optimal product design – UX research allows you to only develop the features that you truly need and not re-make a large share of the product at the later stages of development. It often happens when the team does not have a clear understanding of what product they are trying to make public. This also allows business owners to save money on development and bring the product to the market faster.
- Increased customer satisfaction – When you understand what functionality users want and give them that, you exceed their expectations. This will not go unnoticed and will bring you loyal customers and advocates of your product.
- Higher business value. If your customers are satisfied in the long run, this will bring benefits to you. Applying UX research techniques at all stages of product development, you will create a product with high customer retention.
UX Research – Summing Up
Don’t skip user experience research. This is not a delay in the app development process or an attempt of your vendor to make you pay more. If you care about the success of your project, then UX research must be an integral part of the design process.