UX Research: Reasons to Perform, Stages to Complete
Creating a great product requires research on every stage of its creation. This includes user experience design as well since careful research will help you make your product outstanding through its interface and interaction approach. Read on to find out how to conduct such research best and how you will benefit from it.
4 Reasons Why UX Research Is So Important
1.Research makes UX relevant
Understanding your users is the main objective of any research. If you don’t know your customers, you will simply design your product relying on your own opinion. We don’t doubt your taste, we only say that you and your target audience may have different visions. But in case you conduct research and get to know your target audience better, you will be able to create a UX design they will appreciate. And, obviously, a product which has a relevant UX design has higher chances for success than that one which was designed blindly.
2. Research makes a product convenient to use
If your software will be too complicated to use, it will inevitably fail. Users will simply choose a more convenient product of your competitor, and that’s it! You may have a slight chance of staying afloat if your product is unique, and there are no competitors around, but even in this case we still recommend you to pay attention to UX.
Do you remember Google Wave? It was announced in 2009 as an Internet application for communicating and collaborating in real time. In 2010, Google stopped developing this product. In 2012, Google Wave was shut down, and one of the main reasons for its failure was the fact that the app was too complicated to use.
Obviously, this problem didn’t kill Google — this company still feels good. But when you are a small company or even a startup, such an issue may destroy your future. So, don’t let this happen — conduct research to discover what UX design will be convenient for users. A nice design will lead to increased users’ engagement and a higher number of your software downloads. Apart from this, satisfied users are more likely to try your other products (in case you have them) than those ones which faced some problems.
3. Research speeds up design processes
Conducting research can be a rather time-consuming process, but, actually, it can help to reduce the time of designing the product and, therefore, bring the product launch date forward. Instead of wasting time on thinking what UX design will suit your app the best and making mistakes, you will already have all the facts you may need to make decisions.
4. Research reveals best practices
Good research should not only give you the understanding of your target audience — it should also help you to figure out who your competitors are and, in case of UX, what tricks they use to conquer the market. Besides, you will get an opportunity to understand their weak points, to take them into account when working on your own UX design, and, therefore, to set yourself apart from them.
5 Stages Of the UX Research Process
Now you know what benefits are waiting for you in case you conduct UX research, so now it is time to tell you what stages the research process consists of.
1. Set up clear objectives
The first step is all about making up questions in order to set up the objectives of your research. Here are some questions you may want to use:
- Who is the audience of the design?
- What is the audience going to do in the product?
- How is the audience going to reach their goals in the product?
- When is the audience going to use the product?
- Where is the audience going to use the product?
- What impressions can the audience get from the product?
To give you a better understanding, let us provide you with an example. Let’s imagine that you are working on an app for editing pictures. Here are the possible questions:
- Who would edit pictures?
- Why may users actually want to edit pictures?
- How frequently may users want to edit pictures?
- Where may users want to edit pictures?
Obviously, this list is not full, but you got the idea — during this stage you and your team have to identify all the gaps in your knowledge about your audience and their behavior.
2. Form hypotheses
The second stage is devoted to things which you think you already know. Now it is time to make assumptions which would be tested during the research stage (we will tell you more about this part a bit later). Take a look at the main types of hypotheses:
- Feature-related hypotheses. Clearly, these assumptions focus on the features of the product. For example, in the case of an app for editing pictures, one of the hypotheses may sound like this: “Users always use filters for editing pictures”.
- Attitude-related hypotheses. Now, focus on the users’ attitude. For instance, something like “Users love sharing edited pictures with their friends and followers” can be a nice hypothesis here.
- Behavior-related hypotheses. Obviously, this type is all about the users’ behavior. Here is an example for you: “Users share only recently edited pictures”.
If you lack inspiration, check the questions you and your team generated during the first stage, and try to answer them. Some of your answers can be used as hypotheses.
3. Define the research methods
After you find out what information you are going to look for, it is time to decide on the research methods. They fall into two categories: primary research methods and secondary ones.
Secondary research methods are a good option in case you have a limited budget and a short amount of time you can spend on doing the research: they imply using data which has already been collected. Choosing these methods, you can use books, magazines, data collected from your other projects, information provided by statistics centers, and so on. However, secondary research methods mean that you will be bound to already existing data, and sometimes this information won’t be enough to meet your needs.
So, if you are not in a hurry and your budget is not extremely tight, we recommend you to go for primary research methods.
You will have to collect data on your own, but, in turn, you will get exactly what you are looking for. Here are some primary research methods and techniques which you can use:
- Interviews. Doing interviews online is the most convenient option, but you can also ask questions via phone and face-to-face.
- Surveys. Just like interviews, they can be both online and offline. Printing surveys and giving them out may be pretty inconvenient, especially if the target audience of your product is spread all over the world. However, there are more than enough websites which allow creating surveys without any problems. Here are some of them: SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Survicate, SurveyGizmo, and so on.
- Focus groups. They are virtually the same as the first method we mentioned on this list, but the difference is that they involve not one interviewed person, but an entire group. In this case, the interview must be done by a supervisor.
- Usability testing. This method also needs a supervisor who will check if users face any problems and difficulties while completing different tasks.
- Cognitive walkthrough. This method is about checking if the software is easy to use for new users or those ones who use the product infrequently.
Obviously, there is no need to use only one method — feel free to combine them according to your project’s needs. Apart from this, it would be great to check users’ reviews on products of your competitors. This step will allow you to understand if their UX design has any disadvantages you can take into consideration.
4. Conduct the research
Finally, it is time to conduct the research and to collect all the essential data. The most important thing here is to make sure that the data is accurate. For example, in the case of focus groups, the supervisor must ensure that every particular respondent is not affected by other respondents. Otherwise, the collected data will be biased, and your research will have no value.
5. Analyze the data
Collecting the data is not enough — when the process is over, it is essential to organize and analyze the information you got. In this way, you will answer the questions and prove or refute the hypotheses. Besides, look for patterns in the users’ answers and behavior to suggest the design concepts. And by the way, the collected data can be used not only for your current project. Some pieces of information may be also useful for your future products as a source of secondary research.
Building the UX design on the basis of research is not a guarantee that your product will immediately attract thousands of loyal users. However, UX research is a crucial part of the development process, and we highly recommend you to go through this stage. It can bring you a lot of benefits in the long term (you already know which ones!), so do your best to collect the accurate data. And since we have shared with you all the details on the process of research, now you only have to go ahead!