Principles of UX Design- Chapter 4 of 9

Chapter 4

What is user research?

You may also be developing a new product or redesigning a website and know you want to do it differently this time around. All of these are great reasons to let your users tell you how they feel about your product.

Conducting user research is just one part of the equation. Afterwards, you have to act on that feedback to make new product decisions or enhancements. Depending on your role in the project, you may not agree with some of the feedback. If this is the case, remember that you’re not the end user. Your day is likely consumed with interacting with the website or application, which isn’t representative of a typical user’s usage.

Check your ego and accept that changes need to be made. It’s not bad, it just is.

Research-driven product model

Users are merciless when it comes to telling their friends and networks about a product or service. There’s huge power in that, and you can harness this through proactive, positive user research to avoid potential disasters later.

Types of user research methods

Before we jump in, let’s define a few terms:

  • Facilitator: user research professional who plans and executes the research, gathers feedback, and reports all of that back to the project team
  • Participant: a user who’s part of the research process
  • Recruiting: the act of locating your product’s users to conduct a research test
  • Compensation: users are usually compensated for their time as a participant
  • Usability lab: a traditional lab where tests are conducted. There are typically 2 rooms separated by a 2-way mirror for observation purposes.

User interviews

Interviews can range from multi-week planned events to guerrilla-style interviews based on just minutes or hours of planning. This flexibility is key depending on the UX maturity of your organization and the funding available.

Usability test

A standard usability test involves specific tasks and will usually be tightly scripted in order to pinpoint specific issues. Facilitators can follow up with probing questions to dive into more detail. Participants will be encouraged to “think aloud” as they describe their thoughts about navigating through the tasks. Feedback tends to be more accurate and relevant because users are asked to state the first thing that pops into their head. Allowing participants to revert or think deeply about their responses can allow them to edit their response. That skews feedback.

Contextual inquiry

A contextual inquiry can also be a usability test with the added research including how different settings change users’ perceptions and feedback.

Imagine you’re testing a point-of-sale system. Feedback could vary greatly depending on whether it’s being used in the aisle of a retail location versus at a hot, crowded summer festival.

User experience competitive user analysis

A UX competitive analysis differs from more traditional competitive analysis that’s rooted solely in documenting data such as competitor offerings, market share, and strategy.

Additional methods

  • A/B testing
  • Surveys (in-person, email, web based, etc.)
  • Click analysis
  • Eye tracking
  • Diary studies
  • Focus groups
  • Task time studies

Types of user research deliverables

Test plan

Collaboration isn’t absent from this process. All parties should have ample time to review the document to ensure they’re comfortable with the approach.

  • Objectives: What do you want out of the research effort?
  • Methodology: How are you going to gather insight?
  • Participants: Who are you gathering insight from?
  • Outline: What will the flow of the session be?
  • Test environment: Where will the research will take place?
  • Project schedule: When can you expect the research to take place, when will initial results be available, and when will the full report be delivered?

Findings report

As a follow-up to the test plan, all items listed above should be included to ensure everyone on the team is aware of how this feedback was gathered.

Let’s talk about better Human Experience | Award Winner for Creativity & Innovation | Researcher | UX/UI Designer