A brief introduction to UX Research methods
I am a seasoned UX Researcher who has worked on a wide range of products, spanning web, services, AR and VR, wearables, health tech, e-commerce, and enterprise mobility apps in two continents. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, I develop a deep understanding of customers. There are a variety of research methods that can be employed on a project. In my opinion, our understanding of a given business problem can be benefitted by using multiple research methods and from combining insights from a variety of sources. The key lies in determining what methods to use when and the first step is to familiarise ourselves with the various research methods. I have included a brief description of some key research methods below.
UX Research Methods in Brief
Ethnographic Field Studies: This is one of my favourite methods. Here you meet your participants and study their behaviour in their natural environment. You can use participant observation techniques to make the most of your research.
Participatory Design: In this method, you can give design and creative elements to the participants and ask them to engage with it and tell their story through design. This exercise helps us make the most of the empathetic process and construct the ideal experience from the user’s perspective where the user informs our understanding of what matters to them the most and why.
Usability-Lab Studies: In this method, you invite participants to a lab for a one-on-one with a researcher. The participant is given a set of scenarios followed by tasks. This method is also used to determine the user’s motivation and level of satisfaction with a product or service.
Focus Groups: In this method, groups of 5–15 participants engage in a group discussion on a set of topics where their verbal and written feedback is collected for analysis.
Interviews: As the title suggests, the interviewer meets the participants in a one-on-one setup for an in-depth discussion on a topic.
Eye-tracking: An eye-tracking device (e.g. Tobii) is used to measure the participants eye movements as they perform tasks or interact naturally with websites, apps, products and environments.
Usability Benchmarking: in this method, thoroughly scripted usability studies are performed with various participants to determine measures of performance.
Moderated Remote Usability Studies: Screen sharing software is used to conduct remote usability testing.
Unmoderated Remote Panel Studies: Participants with prior training and access to video recording and data collection software interact with a website or product while thinking aloud so that their experience is recorded for immediate playback and analysis.
Concept Testing: The value proposition of a new concept or product is shared with participants, in person or online, to determine if it meets the needs and expectations of the target group. It can be done using a one-on-one setup or a focus group.
Diary/Camera Studies: A diary or camera is used to record and describe a participant’s behaviour relevant to a product or service.
Customer Feedback: A feedback link, button, form or email is used to gain open-ended or close-ended user feedback.
Desirability Studies: Qualitative and quantitative feedback is gathered from participants who are given different visual-design alternatives and are asked to associate each alternative with a set of attributes from a closed list.
Card Sorting: This method is ideal for creating or refining the information architecture of a website by exposing the researcher and product teams to the user’s mental models. Users are asked to organize items into groups and assign categories to each group.
A/B or Multivariate/ live/ bucket testing: This method is used to scientifically test different designs on a site by randomly assigning groups of users to interact with each of the different designs and measuring the effect of these assignments on user behaviour.
True-Intent Studies: Users are asked about their motivations for visiting the website and their subsequent behaviour is measured to determine whether they were successful in achieving their goals by collecting their feedback before they exit the website.