What Is the Overall Goal of User Research?
User research puts a project into context. By humanizing the data collected about users, designers and researchers can identify the problems users face during an interaction and turn them into actionable insights. By putting the user front and center and evaluating every design decision from their perspective, designers are able to create a more user-focused experience that can lead to a higher likelihood of the user returning to a site, service, or product.
What Are the Different User Research Testing Methods?
UX practitioners can use a wide range of user research methods. Generally, it’s possible to distinguish between two large groups of methods as qualitative or quantitative.
Qualitative methods include:
- User interviews – Asking users about their experience with a product;
- Usability testing – Moderated or unmoderated testing of a product by people who represent the target audience;
- Contextual inquiry – Observing how users interact with a product in their environment);
- Guerrilla testing – Gathering user feedback by taking a prototype into a public place like a café and asking people for their thoughts;
- Focus groups – Inviting a small group of people who represent the target audience to discuss their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product.
Quantitative methods include:
- Surveys – Questionnaires often gather a large volume of responses which can open up the opportunity for more detailed user analysis.
- Eye-tracking – A technology that measures eye movements and makes it possible to know where a person is looking, what they are looking at, and for how long their gaze is in a particular spot on a page.
- Product analytics – Usage data from real users of the product can yield some of the best insights into product development.
The exact methods of user research you perform will largely depend on the type of product you’re creating and the available resources at your disposal. So before starting any user research, it’s vital to identify key goals you want to achieve and what metrics you’ll track along the way.
Also, it’s important to understand that quantitative and qualitative user research methods are not opponents; they are different components to be considered when making data-informed decisions. In many cases, it’s recommended to pair qualitative methods with quantitative to get the best results. For example, qualitative research methods will help a team validate their design direction while quantitative methods will help adjust the individual design according to the user’s needs and business goals.
No matter what methods you choose to use, remember to always approach research with an empathetic perspective.
What Are Some Misconceptions About User Research?
User research is becoming increasingly popular, yet many still question its value. It can be a challenge to get organizations on board with the process. Some common misconceptions of user research are that it’s too expensive to garner a positive return on investment. But the myth of user research being too expensive is just that–a myth. There are many ways to adjust the scope of research to fit into various budgets. Similarly, many believe user research to be too time consuming, but utilizing quick rounds of user interviews and low-fidelity wireframes can make the process faster.
The idea that user research can be done with a simple survey is another misconception. In reality, surveys do not always yield quality and useful data. Qualitative methods and usability testing (even if you’re just interviewing a small group of people) can reveal important patterns.
Take a look at all the great content surrounding user research with Adobe XD Ideas where we regularly post about the latest in UX design knowledge.