FUNDAMENTALS OF USER RESEARCH
WHAT IS USER RESEARCH
It is the process of understanding the impact of a product or service design on its intended audience. User research methods produce insights about users and their behaviour, goals, motivations, and needs. It also shows us how they currently navigate a system, where they have problems and, most importantly, how they feel when interacting with the product.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PERFORM USER RESEARCH BEFORE YOU START DESIGNING YOUR WEBSITE PRODUCT OR SERVICE?
Research helps us learn about the users and their behavior, goals, motivations, and needs.
It also shows us how they currently navigate a system, where they have problems and, most importantly, how they feel when interacting with our product.
Other reasons why it is important to perform user research before you start designing your website or product or service are:
- To create designs that are truly relevant to your users
- Understand how users actually perform tasks
- To create designs that are easy and pleasurable to use
- Get a better understanding of users’ mental models
- Understand what features to prioritize
- To understand the return on investment (ROI) of your user experience (UX) design
WHY USER RESEARCH?
1. Research Benefits
In the current digital product landscape, the real value of research is its ability to reduce uncertainty in terms of what users want and need, which yields benefits for the product, the business, and, of course, the users themselves.
2. Product Benefit
User research provides data about the end-user of the product, how and when the user will use the product, and the main problems the product will solve. User research is also helpful when a team has to decide between multiple design solutions.
3. Business Benefits
User research brings a lot of value to businesses. By knowing the end-users and incorporating design requirements upfront, businesses can speed up the product development process, eliminate redesign costs, and increase user satisfaction.
4. User Benefits
One of the greatest values of user experience research is that it’s unbiased user feedback. Simply put, user research speaks the user’s thoughts—without any influence from outside authority. It also serves as a bridge between users and the company.
UX RESEARCH TECHNIQUES
UX RESEARCH METHODS
- User groups
- Usability Testing
- User Interviews
- Online surveys
- User personas, etc
DEFINE RESEARCH GOALS
- What stage are we at in the process?
- What are you trying to solve? It
- Who are you trying to solve it for?
- How are you going about the research?
BECOMING A USER RESEARCHER
What does a user researcher do? User researchers analyse actual consumer behaviour and form data-driven insights to address the needs of these consumers.
User researchers replace guesswork about a product with learned insights from research activity and they collaborate with the product team in order to turn these insights into actionable, consumer-centric results that resonate with the audience.
User researchers should be able to conduct in-depth and advanced research both in qualitative and quantitative methods.
It is important to be able to understand the research objective and what type of research or combination of research approaches you will use.
USER RESEARCH IS A TEAM SPORT
UX research is based on observation, understanding, and analysis.
- Observe your users, keeping an eye out for non-verbal clues as to how they are feeling;
- Develop an understanding of the user’s mental model: what does the user anticipate when using a certain product? Based on their previous experience, how do they expect this particular product to work?
- Analyze the insights you’ve gathered and try to identify patterns and trends. Eventually, these insights will inform the decisions you make about the product and how it is designed.
10 USABILITY HEURISTICS
BEHAVIORAL VS ATTITUDINAL RESEARCH
There is a big difference between “what people do” versus “what people say.”
Attitudinal research is used to understand or measure attitudes and beliefs, whereas behavioral research is used to measure behaviors.
For example, usability testing is a behavioral user research method that focuses on action and performance. By contrast, user research methods like user groups, interviews, and persona creation focus on how people think about a product.
You gather measurable data. It gives you clear-cut figures to work with, such as how many users purchased an item via your e-commerce app, or what percentage of visitors added an item to their wishlist.
“Quant methods”, as they’re sometimes called in the industry, help you to put a number on the usability of your product. They also allow you to compare different designs and determine if one version performs significantly better than another.
You do not need a specific type of degree to be a user researcher, but it is advisable to have some experience within technology and an understanding of people’s behaviour.
Some common backgrounds of user researchers:
- Information Analyst
Over 65% of UX designers are self-taught, and many user researchers are as well.
You need a good understanding of the design process as a whole and also require soft skills such as facilitation, adaptability, understanding of human behaviours, and a willingness to collaborate with others in order to achieve a common goal.
The realistic method to break into the user research field is to immerse yourself in it.
Join WayMaker Digital’s User Research MasterClass here: User Research MasterClass.
You will learn and practice techniques of user research, usability testing and ethics through user research, refinement and ideation, prototyping, analysis, and applying perspectives and methods to ensure a great user experience at every step. Learn More: User Research Masterclass | WayMaker Digital