Long ago were the times when users had to pass an in-depth training to operate a computer. Now, a child can do it quickly. There are convenient interfaces and lots of useful applications. Software is not anything sophisticated anymore. It is a practical tool to do the job.
Moreover, many tools do similar jobs. A user can choose the one for his or her preferences. Thus, they compete with each other, and the winner will be the fastest, most potent, and most convenient application. This is the reason why UX researches are so crucial. It is not enough to know what the app will do. It is more essential to define how it will do that and how convenient it will be for the end-user. Without UX research at the beginning of work, it is impossible to create an app that wins hearts.
Why it is beneficial to conduct UX researches
Any time you need a tool to perform a particular task, you’ll see a wide variety of options. It does not matter what your OS is – there will be dozens of solutions for any environment. There are rankings and users’ comments, of course. However, you can understand that the application is right when you install it and try yourself. How many times did you uninstall the software because it was uncomfortable to work with it?
It is the goal of UX researches – to understand how users will work with the tool and get rid of potential pitfalls at once. Of course, it is challenging to predict all personal preferences. Perfection is difficult to reach. But it is not an excuse for not trying.
Practical advantages of UX research
- Predict users’ problems with the software interface;
- Understand the right design principles;
- Elaborate the navigation patterns;
- Ensure the trouble-free experience;
- Check the ideas and hypothesis in practice;
- Do in-depth competition research;
- Analyze the market and find the niche for the product.
You need these data at the beginning to take the right path in software development . However, the data have no value without proper analysis and research methods. The methodology is the key to UX research success. It is only with appropriate arrangements when you can find the correct answers to your questions.
Types of the modern UX research methods
In fact, examination and analysis of user experience are necessary at any stage of the product lifecycle. It gives the business masses of data. With their help, product owners decide how to improve the software and make it even more helpful. However, most UX researches must happen in the earlier phases. The impact of such a preliminary examination is tremendous. No one can afford to skip this stage.
The next question is which method to apply to get the most relevant information. The modern UX methodology gives us many practical approaches.
Primary and secondary research
Both these methods should take place on the project start.
- The primary user research has a goal to identify the end-user persona. The performers are the design team. They focus on the following questions: who is the user, why will the user need it, and how will the user work with it. To gather the data, the team runs interviews and develops questionnaires. The software development project often starts with one business idea. The initial research results should also check that idea and prove its rightness.
- The secondary research is collecting information from third-party sources. There can be articles and discussions on the Web, books, and so on. The goal of secondary research is to get more robust data. After obtaining the results of the primary study, this second stage brings evidence to support the preliminary conclusions.
Generative and evaluative research
- The generative method focuses on the problem, where the software product should become the solution. The goal is to detect the best way to resolve the issue. However, to achieve this task, you need to understand the customer. It is necessary to know how they live, what they prefer, and how they behave in their daily lives. It will define the right tool matching their requirements. At the same time, this generative research brings tons of information about the target audience in general. So, you can plan future improvements and other business solutions for them.
- The evaluative method is the continuous process that runs through the product lifecycle. At any stage, this method analyzes how well the app does its job, and how its users work with it. This method is your support for product improvement, as it deals with live dynamic data.
Qualitative and quantitative research
- Quantitative research gives you precise numbers. It is about answering questions about the users’ needs. With the help of this method, the team learns how often users request for the data, how much time they spend on analysis, and so on. The primary value of these data is that they help to plan the product work and limitations.
- Qualitative research concerns people and evaluates their thinking and emotional experiences. This inside look is priceless: when you know what makes your user happy – you can adjust the product accordingly.
Quantitative and qualitative data should not exist separately. They are the two sides of one whole. Their goal is to define interrelations between the concrete tasks and emotional perception. This is how the focus groups work, and this is how their data are analyzed.
However, when it concerns UX researches, qualitative results линка редирект на have a priority. They break down information more precisely, and their results illustrate what is needed to deliver the overall successful experience. It is very often that the most valuable information does not belong to the quantitative category, or those studies are too narrow.
The most essential principles any team should remember
- UX research methods are not separate, and you can’t rely on one way only. To plan the user experience and evaluate possible pitfalls, you’ll need a set of methods. In practice, one research will launch the next one, and data chains will follow one another. You will always need to combine several techniques. Otherwise, the method wrongly applied won’t bring you the answers.
- You need to have a UX research at the beginning of the project. If you missed it for some reason – you’ll need to run it later and more in-depth. However, at that stage, you might have a UX prototype, so the results might be even more valuable. Note that the qualitative data will be more essential. However, if you need to present numbers to the stakeholders, you’ll need to do quantitative research.
- One right method is not enough. You need to examine the full methodology of that approach. It is unnecessary to learn them all beforehand, but you should do it at the project start. One method can include lots of channels of the data collection and different analytical means. So, make sure to learn them to make the right choice of the tool.
UX research methods – favorites from different approaches
Each research method is a combination of practical means. Some of them are well-known from other fields, but they are equally efficient in the IT-sphere. Others are more specific. In any case, a professional design team will need several methods at once. You can understand your goals and detect obstacles if only you look at the task under several different angles.
User surveys involve sets of questions dedicated to the product. Ideally, these answers should provide the team with reliable data about the users’ preferences and work attitudes. When you collect a large massive of data, the results of the analysis will be advantageous.
There can be two types of questions: open (the user can give any answer) and closed (the choice from several variants). Surveys bring both qualitative and quantitative information that can be excellent material.
If done correctly, this method explains the user’s behavior and needs. Later, the fulfillment of these needs becomes the software piece. However, it is crucial to make the right survey questions and choose the target audience. If the questions are wrong, or the users don’t belong to your audience – the results will have little value.
An interview is a much more detailed form of getting information about the user experience. The designer can ask many questions about the topic and has more space for a maneuver. Unlike the set of predefined queries, interviews with users are dynamic, and the designer can get more data.
This method is excellent for getting insights about the users’ likes and emotional feelings about the product. Users will also gladly share their thoughts about the future improvements of the software.
However, interviews demand thorough preparations. You need to develop the “user persona” and the user journey map. It gives you focus, and you learn which aspects to stress in your communication.
Expert review is a specific method of software testing the product. One “expert” should walk through the UI service and check both the design and usability. Via this review, it is possible to obtain the full copy of user experience in all aspects. There are no fixed procedures, and the format of reviews can differ. As it is right for the other research methods, one data sample won’t be enough, and you’ll need several studies. Also, the results will depend on each expert’s background.
The plus of this technique is in its speed and easiness, and you only need several professionals. However, expert reviews should not be the primary argument. It is only in combination with user testing results that these reviews get much more value.
It is the investigation of how end users work with the product. The team can ask them to complete some tasks with the help of the software. Then, they watch how the users do that and if they face any obstacles in the process. All their confusion and conditions where failures took place must be the primary source of analysis.
The success of the method depends on the audience. The people involved should represent user personas that the team developed.
You get the “live data” and watch the behavior of real users in real-time. It’s problematic to contradict such evidence. Though this method may require more time and resources for preparation, it will save you enough time and money in the long run. The tests in the user’s environment provide the most substantial information.
This UX research methodology is more psychological, as it gives an inside look on how people structure information. There is a set of cards with definitions, and participants of the test need to sort them. Two approaches are possible:
- There are predefined categories, and participants should relate each card to the group;
- There are cards only, so participants can sort them as they wish and invent their own categories. They will need to explain the meaning of those categories.
Both these approaches give you the most crucial knowledge: you learn how people assign attributes to objects. You also can see how users define similarities and differences. These data become the background for the application structure.
The technique is very cheap – it does not imply the usage of complicated online tools. Besides, it is very easy for users. The task is clear, and the rules are transparent. Moreover, it is a simple way to validate your ideas at the early stage of project development.
It is the review of the existing design impact on the user experience. There are two ways to analyze the objects:
- Standalone – it is the analysis of your own project. The method is mostly used when you plan to redesign your product. You have the starting point, and then you can vary the UI elements to get to the ultimate version.
- Competitive – it is the usability analysis in comparison with competitors. The team learns the most efficient solutions to implement in their own products.
Additional methods that can be useful
- First Click Test – the specific approach with the focus on navigation. By tracking and analysis of users’ behavior, the team defines the most common navigation patterns. Later, it helps to make the interface layout as comfortable as possible. It is possible to run the first-click-test on the functional product, on the prototype, or even on a wireframe.
- Parallel Design – a convenient, but rather an expensive technique. Several independent designers can work on the same task simultaneously. Their results should present different features, where the most successful combination can become the ultimate version. However, you need several designers who can focus on the same task for some period. It might not be available in the agency.
What income can we expect from the successful UX research?
The goal of this research is to see how design influences performance and the audience. Hence, successful research brings many benefits:
- It shortens development time, as you get the right model on start;
- It reduces development costs, as the team won’t need to rewrite the product for the new UX needs;
- It gives you lots of valuable information about the users, their goals and pain points;
- It reduces the number of users’ calls to support services.
Successful user experience does not come from anywhere. It is always a product of in-depth UX research. It is subjective, as all users are different people. Therefore, you need to collect much data to understand the absolute majority of users. When you understand the unique context for each user, you can create the right product.
UX methodology is crucial here. A professional team always knows the methods and can apply them appropriately. It is the best guarantee of getting trustworthy information. It is all about having both the customers and the business satisfied.