Why UX research is a valuable investment for both designers and business owners.
UX research is the foundation of successful design and development. It provides insights into user behavior, preferences, and pain points. Designers can then use these insights to create better, more effective products.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the role of UX research in product design and development, and how it can help designers create products that meet user needs and drive business success.
Understanding UX Research: What Does It Tell You?
The primary goal of UX research is to gather information about the market, target audience, and competition. It explores the user’s needs and pains by tracking behaviors, asking questions, and analyzing data. It’s a detailed process that aids both the design of a product and its development.
UX research provides answers to fundamental questions, like:
Who will use the product and how?
Who is the competition? What do they offer and what’s the user response?
What are the needs, expectations, and pains of the user?
Which features does my product need to meet the expectations and needs of said users?
In other words: UX research is a tool that gives you the data you need to prove your hypothesis and set your work up for success.
Why is Research Important in the UX Design Process?
Without UX research data, you run the risk of creating a misaligned product that’s difficult to use and sell.
This might happen in a few different ways:
First, you might develop a product that doesn’t really solve the problems of the users. Even if your design attracts them, your product won’t be able to retain users—or merit positive reviews—because it doesn’t cater to the user’s needs.
Or, you might create a product that doesn’t stand out when compared to competitors.
Or, you might create a product that there’s simply no demand for in your market.
How to Incorporate UX Research Throughout the Design Process
Let’s take a deeper look at how UX research is used throughout each phase of the product design process.
Step 1: Incorporating UX research in the discovery phase
The discovery phase of product development is the first stage of the process. Also referred to as the analysis or research phase, its goal is to help you better understand the needs and requirements of the market, the brand, and its audience.
At this point, UX research will help you see if your product holds promise. You’ll collect the data you need to decide whether this particular product idea is worth the time and financial investment.
Unless you conduct thorough research at this point, you’ll rely on hunches and guesses. No matter how confident you are about your idea, eventually, you can find that users don’t want the same thing.
The goals of this initial research should include:
Understanding the user’s mental models and pain points
Forming empathy for the user
Validating user personas and forming a lifecycle funnel
Understanding any barriers or problems that users will experience when using the product
Identifying the good and bad features of your product
To gather this information, you can use strategies such as UX mapping, product audits, and user interviews.
Step 2: Incorporating UX research in the design/prototyping phase
After the discovery phase comes the design and prototyping of the product. At this point, UX research should be conducted to ensure that your product is optimized for the customers and that they are happy when using it.
At this stage, UX research methods might include:
Conducting usability tests
Testing user flows
Analyzing your content and how well users understand it
Step 3: Incorporating UX research after the product development
This is a never-ending cycle. At any point in product development, you’ll need data to improve it or maintain its quality. UX data helps you to pinpoint when there are glitches in your products and give you ideas for improvement.
The Value of UX for Business Owners
In the rush to get a product out on the market, many startups and business owners choose to skip a very important piece of the puzzle: UX design and research.
This decision might make sense from a time savings perspective … but when viewed holistically, it’s a shortcut that doesn’t typically pay off.
In fact, research estimates that every dollar a company invests in user experience (UX), brings an estimated 9.900% return on investment.
Let’s say that you notice an error after the product has been developed. The cost of fixing an error is 100 times higher compared to finding the error beforehand. That’s what UX research helps business owners and product teams to avoid.
But it also impacts the effectiveness of a product. Designers that invest in research gain a better understanding of their users. It enables them to create products with a lower cost of customer acquisition, increased customer retention, bigger market share, and lower support costs.
With this in mind, UX research is an indispensable tool for you to gather information on the targeted audience. You can then use this data to design and develop your product in a way that appeals to them.
How to create a UX planning strategy for your product
It takes time and knowledge to create and implement a UX planning strategy. A good strategy will give you clarity into things like:
Product and user goals
Which research methods you’ll use to collect and inform your data-driven design process
What tools you might want to use to collect your data
As part of this process, you can use tools like UserZoom to collect quantitative and qualitative user data. These tools provide valuable insights that you can use to create the most attractive product that delights users and turns your design into success.
UX research tools allow you more insight and knowledge of your targeted market that you didn’t have before. It is this knowledge that can set your brand apart from the competition and help you develop a product that people will love.
Types of UX Research
Research methods are the techniques and procedures you use to gather data. Generally speaking, these methods fall under 2 categories: primary and secondary.
1. Primary research
Primary research consists of data collected directly from your users, whether through questions, surveys, or product usage analytics. It is a preferred form of research for many businesses since the resulting data reflects the needs and opinions of the actual product users.
Some forms of primary research are:
Interviews: 1:1 conversations with your target audience
Focus groups: Moderated discussions with multiple participants
Usability testing: Live testing of a product or prototype, aimed toward validating hypotheses and checking the usability of the product
Contextual observation: Observing users in their natural environment to gather and analyze behavior
After the collection phase, the UX researcher can analyze the data and draw conclusions. As you can imagine, primary research requires time and often financial investment, so you should plan it well before you get started.
2. Secondary research
Secondary research is faster and far more affordable than primary research, since it collects information from existing sources, such as published reports, datasets, etc. From here, you can compare and analyze the data to draw your conclusions.
Although this form of research is cheaper and faster to conduct, it tends to be less accurate than primary research since it doesn’t include data from your exact users.