Every product is built in hope that it will be frequently used, popular, and successful. However, how can one know if their idea is actually what people want? And how to develop it properly? User experience research is very helpful in answering these, and many other, questions about your product. So let’s start from the beginning…
What is UX research and why is it important?
UX research is a way of discovering users needs, their behaviour, and their expectations. A product built with the support of data can be perfectly targeted to its audience. And that makes the success of a project more realistic.
The main focus of both UX design and UX research is creating user-centered products. That can be achieved through different techniques and methods. However, the data collected during UX research is an essential foundation.
Benefits for the business and the user
There are many ways in which UX research can be beneficial for businesses. One of the most important ones is saving money. Because of the knowledge and information gained from it you will not create a product that is undesired or misaligned with the market. This means that you can avoid spending money on developing and pursuing bad ideas.
Another financial benefit of UX research is the possibility to make improvements and adjustments during the development stage. Your product does not have to go live for you to get feedback and implement new or different solutions. You can do that in the early stages and put out a fully polished and finished product.
When it comes to value offered to the users… they actually get what they want. As simple as it seems, it is not that obvious. How many times did you struggle with buying something online or did not know how to use an app, got frustrated, and quit? This should not happen with a well-made UX design. The process of using an app or website should be as smooth and as convenient as it can be.
When a business knows its audience it is able to create a product that directly answers their needs. This way not only do the users get what they want, but the company also profits from it. That means no more time or money wasted on products that you do not need, cannot use or do not understand!
How to prepare for UX research?
What is important is to realize what has already been done and what kind of questions you want answered. The methods chosen and decisions taken can depend on the stage of the development or the type of the project.
Thus, before UX research begins, you should gather as much information as you can about your company, your competitors, the users etc. Then, with all that in your mind, pick some routes that UX research could go and decide where it should lead you.
UX research can be done during various stages and bring different insights.
- For sure, the earlier the better. Research is most valuable and has the most impact at the beginning of the project. It will prevent you from making big changes later on during development, when they can be difficult and expensive to implement.
- However, research can also be beneficial when the project is already underway. Projects differ from each other and doing analysis while the undertaking is already ongoing can make sense in some situations. This method will ensure that design is still on the righttrack. It might also uncover some new issues that were not predicted or noticed earlier and need to be solved before the launch.
Choose the right research method
There are many research methods. And they can all make your product stand out. However, here are some of the most frequently used ones that you should take into consideration first.
- To start with, the key is to understand your users. Will they need a product like yours and what do they expect from it? This is a very important part of the project. One can even find out that the product would not actually fill any gap on the market and might fail! The so-called discovery part of UX research consists of many methods, like direct interviews with users or interviews with staff who solves users’ problems on a daily basis.
- Validating or discarding assumptions is a big part of UX research. Your company might think that its users would love the product, but this is just a belief. Only proper research can show whether your assumptions are right or wrong. As user-centered design is not about the creator but the users, it is crucial to put their opinion about the product in the spotlight.
- One of the main goals of UX design is to create a user-friendly and user-focused product. And testing prototypes is very helpful in achieving that goal. This method might be challenging as users do not test the finished product but just, for example, simplified models. However, it can still be a vast source of important data. Testing can answer many important questions, like “Do people understand the app? Can they easily navigate it? Are there any changes we can implement to make it more clear?”.
Research methods can be fitted to the project depending on the budget, stage of a product development, time limit or any other specific need.
Also, every designer works in their own style and might have their favourite solutions. Flexibility and adaptability are key to success — be creative with it! Do not hesitate to create or adapt already established tools to your specific needs.
No money and no time? No problem!
UX research does not have to be a long and expensive process. Considering how essential it is for UX design, it is worth picking a process that suits your time and budget limits. There are many techniques and some of them can take less than 1 hour! And they will still be very useful and help validate ideas. Let’s take a look at some of these quick solutions, so you still can support your product design without undermining the budget or deadlines:
- Card sorting is a simple, yet effective, way of understanding how users think and feel the product should be grouped and organized. It is done by simply writing on a piece of paper and sticking it to a board in the order one sees fit.
- Desk research, so gathering knowledge on what has been already done in the past, is also very important. It gives you insight about the market and users and saves time that would otherwise be spent on answering already answered questions.
- Guerilla testing, which checks the usability of a product but does not require scheduling interviews, is an interesting one. It is based on approaching people in the public sphere and asking them to test the product.
If you are not sure what to think about UX design and why it is so important, you can learn about some popular but misleading beliefs in this article. You can also read how essential on-going research can be even for what seems like a well-established worldwide company. After all that reading, you will probably never underestimate the role of great research in product design again!
Originally published at https://www.netguru.com.