When you design based on assumptions, you risk some (or even all) of those assumptions being wrong. User research is highly valuable both before and after designing a product, because it replaces assumptions with actual insight about your target audience.

Doing research before you start designing can help to ensure that your product and business goals match with the real needs of your customers. Continuing your research after creating the design, particularly with usability testing, can give you insights about whether or not your customers can actually use it.

Failing to conduct user research on your project can have big…

When I was an undergrad, the local pub had an Arkanoid machine. I was playing it one night, and I kept failing on the same stage towards the end of the game. For whatever reason, I decided that I was going to beat that level, no matter what happened.

I kept playing, and everything around me started to fade into the background. People came and went, but I was oblivious to it. I was so focused. When I finally beat the level, it was almost easy. It was like it was in slow motion, every move was on point. I…

Running a survey is a quick and relatively easy way to get data about your users. But it’s also easy to create a survey that lies to you, and hard to know when that is. Even if you know the data from a survey is wonky, the results still have a way of digging into your brain.

In today’s post I’m going to detail some ways to write better surveys that engage users and provide more reliable data.

Writing the questions

This is the most important part. You have to write good questions to get reliable answers. Bad questions lead to bad data.

Types of Questions

Do you ever feel unsure of when you should be doing an expert evaluation, or what the difference is between expert and heuristic evaluations? Do you find that the issues raised by your expert evaluations tend to get lost somewhere between delivering your report and being implemented by developers? You’re not alone!

A small note up front: I’ve seen a lot of different terms for what I’m calling an expert evaluation, the technique where a UX expert reviews an interface and notes potential usability issues. Some alternates include usability inspection, UX audit, heuristic evaluation, expert review, assessment, critique, and so…

“What’s your process?”

This is a question that you’ll often get from prospective clients, or in an interview for a UX design position. Of course, your exact process will end up being at least a little bit different for just about any UX design project you undertake. Whatever your full answer may be, as I recently wrote, user research has to be a part of that process. In most cases, you just can’t afford not to do it.

What’s less clear is what kind of user research you should do. There are a lot of different techniques to choose from…

If you’ve been in the UX design game for a while, you’ll inevitably have had a client tell you that they don’t have the time or the money to do UX research. These concerns come from a real place. They probably are getting pushback on their budget, and they probably do have a deadline crunch.

It’s also not an option to skip user research.

You literally can’t avoid it. In a recent piece on the Marvel blog (worth reading in its entirety), Ben Ralph points out that the moment end users start using your product, it’s being user tested. …

Tom Hall

UX person, co-founder of ThinkUX (http://thinkux.ca)

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