Every mobile app, website, digital product or a learning management system that is annoying or appealing was launched after undergoing tough decisions from the design team. The reason why you find some apps pleasant to use and others frustrating is because of UX research. In other words, the success of any digital product depends on the research behind it.
UX research is a critical design phase that lets you know what your users need and how they feel about a particular product. You can’t launch a web product without conducting research. It might not resonate well with the users, hence, becoming a flop. What’s more interesting is that you can use different methods to get accurate results.
You can easily identify the challenges and improve UX quality before releasing the final product to users. Some of the tools for UX research include carrying out local surveys, interviews, and card sorting, among others.
When identifying a suitable research tool, you must factor in the objectives you want to accomplish and the available resources. Also, the design phase you are in will determine the research questions you will pose to the users.
Here we provide a recap of the most widespread and informative UX research tools to give you better insights into your project.
Table of Contents
Interviews are one-on-one discussions with the users concerning the product. They are an effective research tool because you get to interact with the user on a personal level. Thus, interviewing helps you understand what the users want first-hand.
You have to prepare the research questions based on the design stage and the topic. Ensure you form your questions wisely and listen attentively to participant opinions. Basic research skills are also vital for effective interviewing. Asking the wrong questions or failing to build a rapport with the interviewees can bring the whole effort to naught.
After the participants answer the questions, you must analyze each answer thoroughly. You have to find out the problems that the users encounter. This information will help you develop solutions for enhancing the user experience.
The goal of a UX researcher is to evaluate the stated and unstated challenges relating to the behavior of the users. Be empathetic and allow the participants to converse freely in a non-judgmental space. Doing this will divulge real problems, and you will understand what they need. Besides, don’t forget to analyze the answers comprehensively; interview data offers rich insights if it is approached with the right analytical tools.
Another effective research method is conducting surveys. It entails collecting information from a specific group of users via standardized questionnaires. These forms include multiple-choice questions and ask users to pick one or several answers from the list. They are simpler and quicker in administration, giving standardized data from large populations. There’s nothing simpler than making a Survey Monkey form and spreading it via social media or in an email newsletter. So, this method is immensely popular in UX research.
However, surveys need intense planning and proper question formulation to get accurate results. Otherwise, the findings may be misleading as your participants may fail to understand the questions and do the guesswork.
As the name suggests, field studies entail conducting research in the target users’ environment. You have to get out of the office and meet the users to know their experience. This exercise helps you reveal the context of app use and understand the users’ behavioral patterns, challenges, and experiences.
Observational research is effective because it doesn’t involve direct interactions with users, thus helping you to avoid bias and subjectivity. You observe how people interact with digital products and integrate them into their non-digital contexts, thus acquiring a holistic approach to UX.
In other words, going out to the field helps you experience real-life situations and view the product from the user’s angle. It is a practical way of understanding users’ needs by watching what they actually do.
In many cases, UX fails because the company’s designers categorize things the way that makes sense to them, not the users. So, if you see that the design doesn’t work the way it should, it’s time to do card sorting. This UX research approach asks target users to organize cards into specific categories that they find logical. At times, the outcomes of card sorting reveal insightful discrepancies in the designer’s approach to concept grouping and that of the company’s target users.
Based on card sorting findings, you may achieve sizable improvements in UX. The app or website becomes way easier to use once the client finds categories, menu sections, and product groupings intuitive and clear.
Researchers in the UX field can opt to focus on a specific target group of users to participate in the data collection exercise. You have to meet the participants and have a narrowly focused discussion to get first-hand information. Your main objective here is to get reviews and opinions about the product. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your project? Does it fulfill its goals? What can make the design simpler and more appealing?
Remember to be specific when asking questions to get relevant and direct answers from the participants. This qualitative research method helps you get detailed narrative information about user perceptions and experiences with the product. Eventually, you will get an in-depth overview of different perspectives on how a specific user need can be addressed with proper UX design.
This is the most practical research tool that involves testing various design options with the users. You can select specific tasks for users to complete while taking notes and observing user interaction.
Depending on your goals and available resources, you can use several methods to test usability: A/B testing.
Does the app really help to solve the intended issues? Do the users get stuck on different actions? Usability testing helps researchers determine if the product design is interactive and simple. This method is applicable in various design phases and represents a shortcut to making the right design decisions whenever you face a dilemma of choice.
Choose the Right UX Method
There are many other methods UX researchers can try out. However, it is always essential to pick the right method depending on your purpose, budget, available time, and resources you can access. Ultimately, your purpose is to understand the users and provide an exceptional product fitting their needs and expectations.
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