In UX research, the method you choose can be just as important as the questions you ask. How, when, and where you ask your questions can have a big impact on the insights you learn. Imagine running a survey when what you really need is contextual enquiry, or conducting user interviews when what you really need is a card sort. Not only can you waste time and effort, you can miss out on important learnings from your users.
At SEEK, we really value our time with users. We see clear benefits from regular touch points with customers, and the hunger for ever more research is spreading across our organisation. Many of our product teams are embracing continuous discovery and dual-track principles. Many of our designers are keen to ramp up and increase their research capability. And it’s not just designers running research — Product Managers, Business Analysts, and Developers are all getting their hands into research.
But choosing the right research method isn’t always easy, for multiple reasons. For starters, it’s easy to forget about all the methods out there when you’re caught in the hustle and bustle of design life. Likewise, it’s just as easy to slip into the safe habit of relying on one or two “tried and tested” methods that you feel comfortable with. And let’s not forget our cross-functional partners; for many of them, our user research methods are new territory.
In the picture below are 20 of the most common user research methods visualised by Christian Rohrer. You can see the complexity of the landscape. Different methods yield different learnings and are therefore better suited for specific circumstances. Should I choose an attitudinal study or behavioural? Qualitative or quantitative? Remote? Contextual? Moderated? Unmoderated?… the list goes on.
These challenges have been on the minds of myself and some of my fellow SEEKers for some time. We agreed that we would benefit from having a resource available to aid us in this space.
So I got to thinking about how I could help UX’ers and non-UX’ers alike select an appropriate user research method, and what that might look like. After many discussions and hours spent, I’m ready to share the beta tool with you. Allow me to present… Recommend-a-Method*! (*now called Rubik)
The idea is simple enough, you answer a few yes / no questions and receive a research method recommendation based on your responses. Give it a try, I’d love your feedback!
How to use the tool
Start by selecting one of the three buckets, based on what you’d like to learn in your research. These are loosely correlated to the design stages 1) Discover & Define, 2) Design & Deliver, and 3) Measure & Learn. Next you’ll be presented with a series of yes / no questions. The purpose here is to uncover what you already know about your users, and what you’d like to learn. A few clicks later and you’ll have a recommendation!
Keep in mind that this tool shouldn’t override your own thinking and expertise. There are always going to be weird and wonderful circumstances that call for special research considerations, and it won’t necessarily cater to those scenarios. What Recommend-a-Method can do is guide you towards a good research option based on what you want to learn from your users.
Rebranding as Rubik
In 2019 I rebranded the tool as “Rubik” and added 3 important feature updates.
1. Method descriptions
After receiving your recommendation, you’ll now be given a short description for each method with a link to read more. Clicking on “read more” will take you to the new Methods Listing page.
2. Methods listing page
If you’re keen to read more about a specific method, or if you’d prefer to skip the recommendation and peruse a list of common methods, visit the methods listing page. Here you’ll find more detailed descriptions of the 20 most common user research methods, with links to further resources.
3. User Research landscape view
To give a holistic view of all the methods in the user research landscape, I’ve mapped each method onto the well known double-diamond design approach. Now you can quickly get a view of which methods will be most relevant for you based on your phase in the design process. This is a good option if you’re having trouble answering the questions in the recommendation tool, or want exposure to new methods you haven’t tried before.
I’ve also referenced the work of Christian Rohrer here by mapping attitudinal and behavioural dimensions to the map, which can be helpful when determining your research strategy.
Clicking on a method name will take you to the full description on the Methods Listing page.
The first incarnation of Rubik (known then as Recommend-a-Method) was featured in UXMas 2018, check it out! :)