The Role of UX Research in the Product Development

When it comes to UX (user experience), we often mean its development. Many even may think that UX and UX design is one and the same. Actually it is not. Today we would like to draw your attention to the “prehistory” of development of the user experience — UX research.

Let’s try to answer two main questions: 
• What is the value of UX research? 
• How does it fit to the development process?

Before delving into the topic, let’s make sure that we have the same understanding of key terms. Talking about experiences, we would like to quote Jakob Neilson and Don Norman, the founders of UX as a discipline. According to their definition: 
“User experience includes all aspects of final user interaction with a company, service or product.”

In other words, when we talk about the experience of using the product by the user, we mean the quality of interaction not only with the product but with everything else. It includes design of a product`s advertising, appearance of the website dedicated to it, the features and functionality of the product itself, its convenience, experience after the purchase.

Of course, creating a satisfying user experience — not a simple task, however it is feasible if you understand the needs of users and have the skills to design UX. Simply put, user experience research give you the knowledge, and skills of a designer help you design the product on the basis of this knowledge.

Here’s how Dan Willis presents a solution to the UX problem in his illustration:

HOW UX SOLVES PROBLEMS: Visual design; Information architecture; interaction Design; Usability; User Research ; Content strategy)

According to Willis UX includes all the above components. This confirms the idea that user experience is a combination of many components, and if you want to create a really cool product, these components must work together in a perfect harmony.

With this in mind, let’s try to answer the first question:

What is the value of UX research?

User experience research, user needs, or just user research— are a bridge between businessman and the final consumer.

This does not mean that businessmen don’t care about users, because many successful business projects exactly solve the problem. But how well are they being addressed? How these solutions satisfy the user? 
UX research try to put the user at the center of the product development process.

The definition can sound something like that:
User Experience research is a process of understanding habits, needs and attitudes of the user. To achieve these purposes, various methods of observation and data collection can be used.

Thus these UX studies based on objective data feedback. These studies cannot influence someone’s individual opinion or someone’s credibility. That’s just what thoughts and actions of users are saying.
And this is the first and main argument in favor of the importance of UX research.

How the study fit into the development process? 
Research user experience provide important data, but how to integrate the process into the general scheme of development? They should be carried out before or after you create the design? And maybe, during the development process?

There is no universal answer to this question. It all depends on the type of product and its life cycle. But if you look at research as a dynamic, ongoing process that continues after product launch, we can distinguish two roles of UX research: 
• Initial studies of the user experience 
• Regular case studies.

Initial studies of UX conduct in the early stages of product development. They help the team to understand the target audience of the product, when and how users will use it and what tasks or problems can be solved with its help.

Usually such studies are made to identify the potential user, user’s behavior and usage of the product.

This information is critically important for the design and decision-making. 
Case study in UX can be made at any time during development, when there is a specific question or problem needs to be solved.

For example, you notice that the percentage of completed purchase transactions at your online store is very low. You want to find out why. One of the ways to figure it out can become research conducted with the help of target group, which will test the buying process in order to identify the main difficulties and problems.

The purpose of the study is to identify these problems with the help of real user reviews. Particularly useful such monitoring in the middle of the development process, when you have a lot of options for the design solutions from which you need to choose one.

Depending on the type of task, UX case study can use the following methods: sorting cards — for example, if you need to optimize the information architecture, heuristic evaluation — if you are trying to identify serious problems in usability; usability testing, which involves the use of various techniques. 
UX Research work best if it`s carried out at all stages of product development. Thus we can check, confirm and try different solutions, based on your feedback.

Conclusion

Interface design and interaction play an important role in creating the user experience, but they will not be effective without data from real users. In the end, how can you create a working design without knowing what your users’ needs? UX Research solves this problem and create a connection between attractive design and usability of the product. If you know how and at what time to apply the study of user experience, you will be able to make the right, evidence-based design decision.

Translated from http://www.dejurka.ru/articless/ux-research/

Thanks for reading)

Yours,

Cadabra