User Research Methods
User research is the most important aspect of any business. Let me tell you why.
Users drive your business, design, and technology.
Any business, design, or technology that works, works because it works for a specific someone, a user. Any business, design, or technology that isn’t working can probably be found with issues understanding their unique, specific someone.
According to Usability.gov, “User research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other feedback methodologies.” It’s the process of understanding the business, design, and technology needs of your users.
User Research Methods
There are about 15 respected methods of conducting user research, but we’ll only talk about the ones that accomplish three out of four of these categories: know your user, content, design, test and refine, to maximize your time spent conducting user research.
Put your site’s information topics onto cards and then ask a user to sort the information into categories that make sense to them.
Benefits: foresight into expected site structure, information to back homepage decisions, and labels to put on categories and navigation
You’re looking for where the user would click first for a specific task.
Benefits: insight into how users use your site’s navigation and link structure, which result in task completion
Focus groups are a moderated group discussion on your site’s concepts.
Benefits: insights into your user’s attitudes, beliefs, desires, and reactions to your concepts
Individual interviews are personal, one-on-one discussions with users.
Benefits: deeper, personal understanding of your user
Surveys are questionnaires built to attain specific feedback from your target audience.
Benefits: collect a lot of information at low cost, expand your understanding of: who your users are, what your users want, and what information users are looking for
Usability testing involves watching your users perform tasks with your product or service.
Benefits: are you tasks intuitive, measure customer satisfaction, identify needed UI or content changes
The purpose of this post was to bring light to methods you may not have thought of and to pass on shortened information; however, if you want to learn more on the benefits, best practices, and processes of each of the above mentioned methods, visit any of these resources:
Chris Johnson, Frontend Surgeon and CEO of Hack It Hour, LLC