UX Design Research
UX design is not something that will simply be a magical success overnight. If anything, the opposite is true. It is an extensive process that requires a lot of time and research.
Researching UX Design
If you do not invest time in UX research, you won't be able to come up with a design that satisfies your users and provides them with an enjoyable and efficient experience.
Your UX research incorporates studying your ideal users, and understanding what they want and need so that you can give them this. As a consequence, it establishes the foundation for all of your design-related decisions, including everything from placement to appearance and color.
However, if you are new to this field, you may feel like you do not know where to begin when it comes to properly research before beginning your user experience design. With that being said, below we are going to take you through the different steps that you should follow in order to properly research ahead of the UX design process.
Carry out an internal audit
Before you get started working on your new product, you need to think about what you already have at the moment. The first step when it comes to conducting this research is putting together hypotheses on what you believe your consumers actually want.
A lot of business decisions today are made based on what we think our customers want rather than doing the hard research and understanding what they actually want. We have a tendency to base our decisions based on industry standards. However, the most effective thing you can do is take a look at your existing customers and understand them and their needs.
Only once you have performed an internal audit will you get a grip on what it is that your customers truly value and what makes them unique.
Establish goals for your UX research
Next, it is important to define what your primary objectives are for the user experience research that you are going to be carrying out. For example, you may want to do some research so that you can add more value to your product or you may be looking to fill any knowledge gaps that you currently have about your target audience.
Generally speaking, common research goals relating to user experience tend to be about the following: designing better products, committing to use UX-driven design practices, gaining a competitive edge over your competition by leveraging user experience as a differentiator, locating in different ways that you can use user experience to boost your revenue, and rectifying an incorrect assumption that you have made about your users and their behavior.
You need to make sure that you are clear about your goals and that you set the correct parameters so that you can understand and reach your objectives. Listing these goals in the beginning stages will ensure that your research process is tailored in the correct direction and that your user experience team does not end up going astray.
There is no denying that research is important but there are lots of different reasons why people research. You do not want to fall into the trap of simply carrying out user experience research for the sake of it. You need to have a sense of direction and the only way that you can achieve this is by making sure that your goals are established from the offset and that they are clearly and concisely communicated to your entire team.
Identify user sets
The next part of the process is identifying user sets. There is no getting away from the that user experience design is driven by the user. However, we also need to recognize that not all users are the same.
You are going to drive much more value if you accept inputs from targeted users rather than simply chasing different users at random. As a consequence, before you start interacting with your user base or even identifying the methodologies that you are going to use, it is imperative to create user personas so that you can characterize the people who are going to offer you the optimal customer lifetime value.
In most cases, variables are based on the likes of geographical specifics, behavior, ethnographic specifics, psychographics, and demographics. These can act as a common thread and they will help you segment and describe your ideal uses.
By doing this, you will be able to sift through the good opinions that are worth acting on so that you can ensure the process is more tailored to suit your most profitable and recurring types of customers.
Choose the best research methodologies
We are starting to get into the nitty-gritty of user experience research. Once you have found your ideal target audience and you have made your research objectives clear, you need to start looking at the different methodologies that you can use in order to extract actionable and premium quality insights that can drive your business forward.
User research can take place using a number of different techniques, and a lot of businesses decide to use a combination of methods, rather than simply relying on one approach when it comes to the research efforts.
So, what are some of the different techniques that you can use? An obvious place to start is with surveys. Surveys feature a number of different questions that are shared amongst your target audience. These questions often involve multiple choice and they are self-paced.
Another option that you may want to consider is carrying out interviews. As the name suggests, an interview will require one of your researchers to interact with the participant on a one-on-one basis, asking them questions and recording their responses. These sorts of interviews typically take between half an hour to an hour, yet this would depend on your business and the goals of your research.
Testing is another important research methodology that involves giving participants a number of different tasks to carry out and asking them to assess the product once they have completed the tasks.
You may also want to consider leveraging the benefits of focus groups. This will mean inviting between 6 and 9 people, and giving them talking points on certain topics so that they can discuss this in an open forum style. The participants will discuss the things they like, as well as address any concerns or problems, which can help you to shed light on issues that you were not aware of so that you can find the best possible solutions.
For many years, user research was only carried out in person. However, this has changed in recent times and we are seeing more and more forms of user research that are tailored to the digital environment, meaning that people can participate no matter where they are based. This is highly beneficial for businesses because it means that they are able to reach a much bigger number of people.
Put together a research guide
The final piece of advice that we have for you is to put together a research guide. Committing all of your efforts and thoughts to paper is imperative.
If you have a well-documented research guide, you will be able to maintain homogeneity even when many individuals or teams are carrying out the research.
The detailed sequence of user experience research activities will mean that no crucial elements are missed out on. It also helps in terms of making sure that everyone has a laser focus in terms of the process and the outcomes you are aiming to achieve.
If that was not enough, it can help in the long-run, as you continue to refine and enhance your UX research framework. After all, UX design and research should not be a one-time thing. The landscape is changing all of the time, as technology processes and people’s wants and needs change. Therefore, you simply cannot afford to remain stagnant.
So there you have it: everything you need to know about how to research properly when it comes to user experience design.
If you have any issues when it comes to this, there are companies out there that can help you to put user personas together and gather insights about your customers so that you have the ideal foundation for all of your UX work.
Either way, it is important to make sure you do not skip the research phase when approaching a UX project. After all, if you do not thoroughly understand your user base and what they need, you won’t be able to create a design that offers the best possible user experience.