In a domain such as UX design, which is devoted to users’ experience while interacting with a product or service, UX research is of paramount importance.
UX research is usually done at the beginning of a project and serves many purposes throughout the project design process. It helps designers to understand the target audience and recognize their needs, goals, and pain-points. It lifts a design from being based on guesswork and assumptions to being created for solving real user problems.
According to statistics, 81% of executives said user research makes their company more efficient, and 86% said user research improves the quality of their products and services.
Let us delve into this world of UX research and see what it is and why it is essential in a UI UX design process.
What is UX Research?
UX Research is the systematic study of potential users and their needs, performed to gain an insight into the user requirements to guide the design process rightly. It is a vital part of the UX design process. Various research techniques are used to conduct this study and recognize user’s mental models and needs. The results of UX research are used to find markets and problems and to establish a design methodology using which those needs can be met.
UX Research Approaches
When UX research is done successfully, the users will get the best experience from a product or a service because the design is done for their needs. There are several approaches to UX research. Let’s take a look at them & see how they play an essential part.
Qualitative vs. Quantitative
- Qualitative research
Qualitative research, also called soft investigation, deals with how people think and feel. It can help designers to understand why users perform specific actions the way they do. Qualitative research is often done in the form of interviews and ethnographic field studies. It sheds light on questions such as “why weren’t users able to find the CTA button” “how the users felt about this feature,” etc. It collects non-numerical data, like opinions and motivations.
- Quantitative research
Quantitative research uses numerical data that can be measured and analyzed. It provides statistical likelihood by using structured methods such as surveys and analytics. It is used to understand what is happening in design when users interact with it and is used to test assumptions drawn from qualitative research. It sheds light on Quiz, such as “how many people clicked on the button,” “what percentage of users performed this action,” etc.
Attitudinal vs. Behavioral
- Attitudinal research
Attitudinal research is used to understand what the users say. It gives an insight into the users’ attitudes regarding some issues. Because people are so worried about similar to what others think about them, often they say one thing and do another thing. This is one of the downfalls of attitudinal research. When conducted as a focus group, a person’s opinion could be influenced by the thought of others and their wish to agree with the majority.
- Behavioral research
Behavioral research is done to look at what the users do. It validates the information received from attitudinal research. They take the form of A/B testing or experimentation. The advantage of this method is that data is being gathered from real users during their actual interaction with the website instead of a test environment.
User research often utilizes all these research methods to get the most transparent outlook for a design process. From the data gathered during the research phase, designers should understand who the users are, what their needs are, how they perform things currently, how they would like to do them in the future, etc.
Importance of UX Research
Why should a UX design agency spend time on research? Isn’t it easier to go ahead with the design with whatever understanding they may have about target users?
Here is where one should remember the mantra in UX design, “You are not your user.” Conducting user research is critical because that is the only way to understand the real users; their needs, and pain points. Let’s go through some issues that emphasize the importance of UX research.
- Design better products
Often UX research is seen as a process that is performed just for namesake. But in reality, it isn’t so. When you perform UX research in the first step and follow it with usability testing and iterations throughout the design process, you end up with the best design.
Because the end goal is to create a product or service that meets the users’ needs, understanding them is key to UX design.
- Save time and money
It’s a common belief among clients that UX research takes more time and money. However, it’s the opposite. When a product is launched without doing proper research, it will have many usability issues and design flaws and will fail to meet the user needs. When thorough research is done, a lot of the potential problems can be uncovered early on, thus saving time and rupies that would have been spent on redesigning and bug fixing.
- Even a little does a lot.
Several methods are using which UX research can be done in a faster and less costly manner. In the UX world, the saying goes that “Some user research is always better than none.” So any amount of research, however small it is, will help save time and money and lead to a better design.
- Decrease the learning curve
When a design is done based on proper research, every action will provide some value to the user. It will ensure user efficiency and make it possible for users to complete tasks without confusion or errors. Thus, by employing research and making it easy to use and learn, the learning curve for your product or service is decreased.
UX research is as essential in design as the application of UX design principles. It paves the way for improving the usability of a system. Whichever research method a UX team opts for, with careful research, it is possible to collect data that is unbiased by a person’s assumptions, personality, or presence. And that is when a genuinely user-centric design is born.