What Is User Research, And What’s Its Purpose?
User Research or UX Research, is an absolutely vital part of the user experience design process. It is typically done at the start of a project, it encompasses different types of research methodologies to gather valuable qualitative and quantitative data and feedback. When conducting User Research, you have to engage and observe your target users. Ultimately, User Research is the difference between designing based on guesswork and assumptions, and actually creating something that solves a real user problems.
In other words: Do not skip the research phase!
If you’re new to User Research, fear not. We’re going to explain exactly what UX research is and why it’s so important. We’ll also show you how to plan your User Research and will introduce you to some key User Research methods. By conducting User Research, you get to know user needs, behaviour and pain-points in relation to the product or service you’re designing.
Typically done at the start of a project but also extremely valuable throughout, it encompasses different types of research methodologies to gather both qualitative and quantitative data in relation to your product or service.
The Importance of UX Research in Product Development
From secret shoppers to website evaluators, User Experience (UX) Research exists to solve problems. When you’re preparing to roll out a new product or you’re trying to pinpoint where users may be dissatisfied with an experience, there’s a lot to consider. Visual Design, Content and Usability, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, User Research, and more play a part in driving profit margins and avoiding consumer confusion.
If you want to leave a lasting impact on your patrons i.e customers, keeping them happy from the moment they see an advert all the way to when they first use a product. And even through the lifetime of the product, an enterprise must understand the effect of each of these components.
That’s why UX Research is crucial. By working with either real users or a hypothetical, ideal buyer, a business can put its shoppers at the center of its development processes and engineer custom solutions that account for every second a person interacts with a company and its products or services. In this way, everyone from executives to UI teams and marketing departments can interact directly with consumers.
Ignoring the user would be as good as ignoring your product or app. Taking the time to understand the subtleties of your user’s environment, the limitations of using the app, and the kind of value they derive from the experience can help improve user experience and the core functionality.
That is the essence of User Research- understanding what the user’s goals are, what actions they are taking to achieve those goals, and where in this process does your product help them achieve their goals.
Here is one of the User Research example from fast-growing products-
How Uber learned about user constraints with field tests?
Uber’s team realized the importance of User Research when they conducted field tests with driver partners. One of the tests led to the discovery that a driver had set up his phone to save the number of the next ride as ‘Muppet.’ Whenever he needed to call a rider, he could simply use the voice command ‘Call Muppet’ instead of physically navigating to the call screen and making a call.
Such learning would not have been possible for the Uber team because had they not undertaken field tests to see what constraints the driver partners were working in.
One of the hallmarks of User Research is formulating a hypothesis or an assumption and the corresponding learning that comes from it. Assuming that the user has to complete certain tasks to get to the goal they want can lead to either the assumption being proven right or wrong. Either way, your team comes away with valuable insight into the user’s behavior.
By formulating a hypothesis, you move your testing in a decisive direction rather than letting your team wander around for bits and pieces of information collected from user behavior. This learning can be used to enhance development on the next iteration or the next feature of the product.
User research helps you get closer to the customer
Design Thinking and User-Centered Designs are becoming increasingly common concepts for product teams and organizations. Having a customer-focused outlook helps align goals of the business. Also, with the goals of the user that can directly translate into revenue, user engagement, user retention and customer delight.
Amazon is an example of a company that invests heavily in user experience and research. While it was initially doubted for investing in such aspects, in the long-term their investment has been validated.
The roadmap should be defined by User Research
When UX is pulled in after the roadmap is defined, the UX decisions are tied to whatever has already been decided will be worked on and you won’t have the chance to develop the best solution.
Also, the roadmap should be defined by research too. What research finds as the biggest pain points for the user to have an impact in prioritization. If not, how can you call your product user-centered?”
· Involve User Research in development at the same time as the other product stakeholders — it needs to be of equal importance.
· User Research should define the product roadmap otherwise the finished product won’t be truly user-centred.
· The users’ biggest pain- points should be addressed on priority.
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