Conducting UX Research in all design phases
Timing is crucial in UX research. Discover the key moments when user research can make a real difference in your product's success.
UX Research in the discovery phase
The exploratory phase is the first step in the UX research process and aims to lay a solid foundation for further development. This phase focuses on understanding users' needs, goals and expectations. At this stage, no concept, prototype, product or service has yet been developed.
Several techniques are applied to gain these insights:
- In-depth interviews. Through structured interviews with key stakeholders, such as product managers, designers and marketers, valuable information can be gathered about the goals and vision of the project.
- Focus groups. Focus groups consist of a group of potential users who share their opinions, experiences and expectations. This provides in-depth insights into different perspectives and can generate valuable ideas.
- Diary study. Diary studies - also called diary studies - ask users to document their experiences, thoughts and interactions with a product or service over a period of time. This provides rich, contextual information about the daily user experience. This data can be used as input for a new product to be developed.
Questionnaires. Conducting structured questionnaires provides an opportunity to collect quantitative data on user preferences, demographic information and satisfaction. Because these are often taken in larger numbers, it is often possible to generalise the findings.
Using the above techniques, different types of studies can be conducted in the exploratory phase. Below is a selection of these studies:
- Consumer needs study. This research focuses on identifying users' needs and pain points. This makes it easier to develop a product or service that fits the target group well.
- Target group research. Audience research focuses on identifying and understanding the specific target groups that will use the product. This includes defining demographics, behavioural patterns and motivations.
- User persona study. Personas are fictional characters representative of different user groups. Persona research helps create detailed profiles that form the basis for designing and developing a product that meets the needs of the target group.
Customer journey study. This research focuses on understanding the journey a user takes when interacting with the product, from the first point of contact to the final conversion. It identifies the different stages and touchpoints at which the user interacts with the product.
UX Research in the validation phase
The validation phase aims to verify whether the ideas, concepts and prototypes generated after the exploratory phase are actually effective for users. Some of the techniques used in this phase include:
- Concept testing. Concept testing is used to gather feedback on the feasibility and attractiveness of the proposed concepts. This can be done through focus groups, questionnaires or individual interviews.
- Prototype user testing. Prototypes are interactive representations of the final product. During prototype user testing, respondents are invited to interact with the prototype and provide feedback on its functionality, usability and overall experience.
- Card sorting. Card Sorting is a method where users are asked to categorise items or functionalities. This reveals where users expect certain information, which then helps design the ideal menu structure or information display on the website.
Tree testing. Tree testing involves testing the navigation structure of a product. Users are given a set of tasks and have to find the right paths to complete the tasks successfully. This helps evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the navigation.
Some studies conducted in the validation phase include:
- Concept research. This research focuses on gathering feedback on the concepts and ideas generated in the exploratory phase. It can be conducted through focus groups, questionnaires or individual interviews to assess the feasibility and attractiveness of the concepts.
- Prototype usability study. During this survey, respondents are invited to interact with the prototype. By collecting their feedback, usability problems can be identified and improvements can be made even before the first lines of code are typed.
Navigation research. This research focuses on testing the information architecture and navigation structure of the product. This can determine whether users can find the desired information and perform the desired tasks.
UX Research in the optimisation phase
After gaining insights in the exploratory and validation phase, it is time to optimise the user experience. In this phase, the product is already live, but different techniques are used to gain insights into areas for improvement.
- User testing. User testing is an iterative process where users are invited to perform specific tasks and provide feedback on their experiences. This can take place either in a UX lab or online.
- Interviews. Interviews with users provide in-depth insights into their needs, expectations and experiences. By talking directly to users, researchers can gather valuable feedback to further optimise the product.
- Focus groups. Focus groups can be used to engage users in groups and obtain shared insights and opinions. This can generate valuable discussions and ideas for product improvement.
- Questionnaires. Questionnaires can be used to collect quantitative data on user satisfaction, ease of use and preferences. This helps identify areas for improvement.
Some studies conducted in the optimisation phase include:
- Usability research. This research focuses on evaluating the usability of the product. By observing users as they perform tasks, bottlenecks and problems can be identified and resolved.
- UX Audit. A UX Audit is a thorough evaluation of the product based on best practices and UX guidelines. It identifies weaknesses and opportunities for improvement to optimise the overall user experience.
UX Benchmark. A UX Benchmark measures the performance of the product against similar products in the market. This helps identify strengths and weaknesses and provides insight into how the product compares to the competition.
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