What is UX Research
The process of selecting a targeted user base for the product(s), designed by an organization. It is used to add the nature of reality and scenarios, which are present in the daily lives of the users. UX research checks whether the needs are in resonance with actuality and not just the company goals. The vital aspect and role of the research process in UX are to derive insights and hidden information about the user, which becomes the base for the design. It can be done at any stage of the design process, and it validates the process for the needs and requirements of the user.
“I get very uncomfortable when someone makes a design decision without customer contact.”
– Dan Ritzenthaler, Senior Product Designer at HubSpot
UX Research process details
We can divide UX research into two main subsets – Qualitative and Quantitative methods. Qualitative deals with extracting non-numerical data from user research such as emotions, expressions, goals, and behavior patterns. Quantitative deals with getting numerical data such as frequency of use, number of clicks, demographic data on the number of people, etc. The quantitative process is all about extracting the statistical data, but it does not help to get deeper insights. Additionally, it can be divided into two approaches –
- Attitudinal – listening to what the users say.
- Behavioral – seeing what users are doing through observations.
When we mix all these methods to do the research, we get a clear understanding of the design problem. As described in studies conducted by Neilson Norman Group, the research process can be done in the following stages –
- Discover – to determine what the user wants, tools like contextual inquiry and dairy studies are used in this stage. It helps to observe the users in their context and surroundings, and the observations are noted down.
- Explore – finding out the way to address all the user needs. Methods such as card sorting, and customer journey maps are useful to understand the changing needs in the experience journey and the diversity of options on which the user wants to experience the product.
- Test – validating and checking the designed product with users. Methods such as usability testing and accessibility testing help us figure out if there are any issues for users using the product and whether it is accessible to all types of people.
- Listen – putting problems in perspective and finding new trends. Methods like surveys and analytics help understand the patterns in current and future scenarios.
Whatever research method we use, it is imperative to analyze the pros and cons of the research method and apply it at the right time and in scenarios. Some may be time-consuming and not so fruitful when the process has moved on. So, it is pivotal to bring in the users, and stakeholders early in the process and get the required details on time. The better-incorporated research process yields much more value to the overall product when applied successfully.
UX Research Tools
When it comes to using UX research tools, there are multiple ways we can choose, but it is also imperative to pick the right method at the right time.
Qualitative Mobile App Analytics
Bugsee is a mobile analytics solution that focuses mostly on bug/crash reporting.
Appsee is not only focused on bug/crash reporting but also provides a wide range of solutions to help you monitor and optimize different aspects of your app.
lookback.io is a mobile user-research platform, which allows UI/UX designers and mobile professionals to perform remote user research. It also helps to communicate with participants in real time, execute self-test research on users’ end with pre-defined goals, and set up in-person app tests.
Qualitative Desktop Analytics
FullStory is a desktop qualitative analytics solution that provides product owners with the ability to see precisely how users or visitors interact with their website, how optimized the experience is, and how bugs/crashes occur.
Hotjar is a one-stop shop for qualitative website analysis and user feedback. It provides product owners with everything they need to learn more about their users/visitors and how they experience their products.
SessionCam wants to skyrocket your conversion and user satisfaction rates of the website, and it relies on exciting features to do so. First, there is error detection, which automatically identifies the most frequent error messages.
In-App Feedback Tools
It allows app owners as well as UI/UX designers to understand their users better by proactively communicating with them. The tool features a smart engagement system that identifies the best time to engage with users based on their behavior, location, connection, and more. Features include prompt ratings, user surveys, and in-app messages.
UserReport is an amalgamation of two simple tools – a survey and a feedback forum. These tools run as an integrated part of your app and will allow you to interact with your users, to learn more about them – their preferences, their goals, and where they think you can improve.
Mobile Usability Testing
Userlytics allows UI/UX designers and product managers to design and upload a user testing script. From there, they can select the asset to test (mobile app in this case) and set up a remote user testing session.
Desktop Usability Testing
UsabilityHub is usability testing a platform that allows UI/UX Designers to make confident design decisions with extensive data and remote user testing.
As we can see there are plenty of tools available for using UX research methods for different platforms and at various stages of the design process but the most important thing to remember is to choose the right method at the right time.
UX Research Cheat Sheet
As we have realized that the research methods are great to derive insights, and the design process that runs simultaneously helps us to get to the right product on time. The UX research process can help make valuable efforts and reduce the time for the team in the process as many methods are utilized simultaneously.
The common question often asked is what is the right time to do UX research, and according to the Neilson Norman studies, there are typically three answers for this-
- You can do user research at the current stage wherever you are in the process. It helps you come up with better insights and a fitting background for the project.
- Conducting user research at every stage because it increases the value of the product more than the cost of research time.
- Research at the early stage if the budget is limited and reserve some for the later stages in the project.
When deciding where and how to start, we can use some of these most used methods. Some may be more appropriate than others and time-consuming, but we always need to understand that the goals of the research process should align with the chosen methods, and it can be used in the product development cycle through the process.