Great artists and designers can sometimes create wondrous artworks and inventions on their own that capture the public imagination. They create with intuition and empathy and, at their best, it teaches people something new about themselves.
It’s a wonderful gift, but it’s rare. Most of us need feedback, editing and collaboration to build something incredible. Luckily, the modern internet has developed a research methodology around user experience (UX) that provides incredible insights into consumers, how they interact with the world and what they need from the websites and apps they use.
It’s called user experience research, and it’s an essential part of the website design process.
What Is UX Research?
Great UX can make an average product feel remarkable, while bad UX can kill a promising product or service. But how do you ensure that you create truly great UX? You do your research.
The Complete Beginners Guide to Research provides a handy definition of UX research:
“It is research that prevents us from designing for one user: ourselves. The purposes of UX and user-centered design are to design with the end-user in mind; and it’s research that tells us who that person is, in what context they’ll use this product or service, and what they need from us.”
UX research is so important to your business because it centers the client experience in your thinking. It helps you solve problems, simplify processes and streamline the ways that you work. The benefits of great UX should be able to spill out beyond the realm of web design and influence every part of your organization, but without solid research, you’re flying blind.
For more on the key elements of UX, read our earlier post “6 Key Elements of UX to Improve Your Website.“
Choosing the Right UX Research Methodology
There are many methods to choose from when it comes to how to do UX research. Your approach really depends on the kind of problems that you’re trying to solve. Each method involves the gathering and synthesizing of data — it’s just a question of how you’re going about the process.
Here’s a list of nine UX research methods that, when done well, offer you everything you possibly need to know about the interaction between your clients and your products.
This method allows designers to really get to know the people they are designing for. It’s relatively easy to organize (either in person, on Zoom or over the phone) and can lead to great insights through one-on-one conversation. The trick for the researcher is to ask open-ended questions that let users speak freely without trying to guide their answers too much.
This method is designed so that you can watch users interacting with your product out in the world. They go about their days while researchers watch, make notes, try to identify pain points and ask them questions about why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s designed to reveal usability problems and what users really do to try and solve them.
This takes place over a slightly longer period of time. Users are asked to record their feelings several times during a process, for example when they’re researching and buying a car. It’s an excellent way for mapping out a customer journey and uncovering emotions that consumers are experiencing.
A variety of users receive the same set of questions at different points in the day, and they answer immediately. Like diary entries, you get a more intimate look at a user’s life, but in real time as opposed to when they are reflecting on it after the fact. For example, it’s a great way to record what people are eating over a prolonged period of time, or how often they’re using a product or service.
This is a simple UX method where researchers scour the internet looking for answers and patterns. For example, you may interrogate social media feeds, blogs, community groups and Google searches to try and learn about people’s pain points and how to create solutions.
This is a great UX method when you have a new product that you want to test. Usually, you put the new item in front of users who’ve never seen it before, then give them a set of tasks that they have to solve with your device or service. Observing the way they try to get there provides invaluable research for designers.
In this version of UX design research, you present two different options to users at the same time, with only one factor changed between them. The great thing about A/B tests is that they objectively present which solution works better. The downside is that they they just won’t show why; but qualitative research will, which makes it a must.
Give users a product or service, give them five seconds to look at it, then take it away. This is an incredibly simple way to gather first impressions. It’s a powerful tool in your arsenal.
Card sorting is useful when creating navigational structures and information architecture. This method helps in planning websites with heavy menu structures and submenus.
Each of these methods will offer some new and unusual insights if you know how to look for them. How you mix and match the UX methods you use will determine the levels of success you achieve.
Deliver Just What Your Users Want
When it comes to UX, you have to judge everything with the end-user in mind. The better you know your prospective consumers, the better you will be able to serve their needs.
What you need is a tried and tested methodology that delivers clear, useful analysis that you can back up with evidence. That’s what great UX research can do for you. If you don’t have the time or expertise to do it yourself, then consider partnering with Orpheus for fast UX solutions and recommendations that really work.
Reach out and get started today.